Nanotech wonders hyped at Wash. DC conference

September 01 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

At the First Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology held in Washington DC, researchers discussed the possibilities expected of this new wonder science, including glittering visions of abundance and long, healthy life spans.

Within 20 years, a small Star Trek-like replicator called a “nanofactory” could sit on your kitchen counter and let you order up any product you want – food, clothing, appliances, or whatever your dreams desire – at little or no cost.

Nanofactories work by collecting atoms from something as inexpensive as dirt or seawater, and using software downloaded from the Internet, directs those atoms to “grow” into the final product. A nanofactory can even “grow” another nanofactory.

This wild technology sounds like science fiction, but its not. Foresight Institute sociologist Bryan Bruns said nanotech will provide solutions for some 2.7 billion people now living on less than $2 per day, and eliminate poverty worldwide.

Bruns envisions a “2025 Whole Earth Catalog” which would offer economic water filtration systems that purify 100,000 gallons of water a day; inexpensive solar roofing panels that come in rolls like Saran Wrap; powerful inexpensive computers that fit inside eyeglass frames; and suitcase-size nanoclinics with a full range of diagnostics and treatments.

“Turn trash into treasure”, could become the slogan of the 2020s. Nanorefineries will break down unwanted consumer items, sewage sludge, and other waste materials, and re-build them into food, clothing, or household items.

Institute for Molecular Manufacturing’s Robert Freitas added, “not only will nanotech provide us with a lot of cool stuff and eliminate global poverty; it will also help us live a really long time”. Freitas predicted by 2015, nanoproducts will diagnose illnesses and destroy cancer cells – and by mid-2020s, tiny cell-repair mechanisms will roam through our bodies keeping us strong, youthful, and forever healthy.

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Future of Shopping - RFID gets under your skin

April 13 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Information   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

You enter the supermarket, grab an electronic shopping cart that recognizes you from your touch, and begin tossing items into pre-opened bags. The monitor on your “smart cart” not only displays each item, its price, and total amount spent; but also subtracts items returned to the shelf. Hold an item in your hand briefly and its description appears on the monitor.

When finished shopping, simply tap a “chipped” finger indicating which credit or debit card to use, or tap thumb for cash pay, which directs you to an automated cash machine – then out the door. On exit, select a security option to deactivate or encrypt all product chips, preventing evildoers from tracking you or your merchandise.

Though this futuristic scenario may still be a few years away, Albertson’s Chicago and Dallas area stores are experimenting with “Shop ‘n Scan”, a wireless scanner shoppers use to ring up groceries as they take them off the shelf. Eventually, Albertson’s wants to integrate this with other services that could one day become the precursor to a scenario like the one described above.

Milwaukee futurist David Zach envisions a bright future for RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification). “Chipped” tickets to local Miller Park sporting events, for example, allows management to recognize customers. Move to a more expensive seat during the game, and the system debits your account for the higher priced seat. (cont.)

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Earth 2200 -- life in a Star Trek world

June 12 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Space   Year: Beyond   Rating: 5

By Dick Pelletier

What will life be like in 2200? Of course, nobody can predict the future with absolute certainty that far ahead; however, by multi-tracking technology advances and mixing reality with a dash of imagination, we can create a plausible scenario of what life might be like 192 years from now.

2200 citizens enjoy intelligence-multiplied a trillion-fold over 2008 biological brains. During the last 150 years, no one has experienced aging, unwanted death, or poverty; and in 2200, more people make their homes in space than on Earth.

The world was astounded in 2050 when NASA/EU probes discovered life on a planet five light years away. Inhabitants of this faraway world were sending similar probes to Earth during this same time period; each planet detected the other’s signal and both civilizations experienced their first contact with intelligent alien life.

By 2075, utilizing newly-developed wormhole messaging systems, we had exchanged numerous communications with our new friends from planet “Darth”. We discovered many common interests as both worlds had recently experienced huge intelligence growth, which resulted in the transformation of their species into non-biological beings. It became obvious that cooperation would yield benefits to both worlds; thus Earth and Darth were first to join what would one day be known as “The Federation”.

As early as 2050, most humans sported non-biological bodies with powerful minds. Those who remained “biological” often found themselves struggling to find happiness and success; so by 2075, nearly everyone had switched to the stronger, but still considered to be human, non-biological body. The few conservatives who still resisted this technology eventually died out. (cont.)

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Earth 2300 - 'body-free' life, space colonies, time travel

July 13 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

What will life be like 300 years from now? No one really knows for sure; in fact most projections beyond 2050 are little more than guesses. However, by multi-tracking today’s science and technology advances, and mixing reality with a dash of imagination, we can create a plausible scenario of how the future could unfold.

Experts say available information doubles every decade. Thus, in 300 years, 30 decades from now, information will expand nearly 300 million times. This increase promises to bring about a world with awesome possibilities.

By 2300, humans are in complete command of their destiny. In early 2000s, biotech and nanotech advances eliminated disease and aging, which paved the way for human-machine merge. By mid-century, most people sported maintenance-free non-biological bodies with mind/memory systems that prevent unwanted death and disease.

During “the golden age of intelligence”, 2050-2100, the Internet morphed into a wireless “global brain” feeding information to enhanced minds, raising intelligence levels, and ending all human desires for wars and conquest. Fully immersive virtual reality enabled people to interact through simulations indiscernible from reality.

Projecting our “digital self” became easier and more effective than meeting physically. One could go anywhere instantly; even be in more than one place at a time. “Digital life”, with activities directed by our neurons that are stored in a safe haven, soon became the preferred method of existence. (cont.)

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Innovation will make living out of this world a reality

July 17 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

The immense popularity of Star Trek suggests that “to boldly go where no man has gone before” could become humanity’s mandate for the future.

Satellite Industry Association President Richard Dalbello sees the space industry as the jewel of our economy. It drives innovation, creates jobs, and positions us to begin mankind’s greatest dream – to explore other worlds.

But many believe our progress is too slow. Past explorations produced huge benefits much faster. 25 years after the Lewis & Clark exploration, wagons rolled west to Oregon and clipper ships landed pioneers in California. 25 years after the Wright Brothers, citizens could fly around the country. By contrast, landing on the moon – our “giant step for mankind” – has only produced 40 to 50+ years of earth orbits and a few unmanned flights.

Space enthusiasts say this slow progress shows we are misdirected. They would like to see faster development of moon and Mars settlements and strong incentives created for private businesses to design and build space colonies and other facilities in space.

Space flights are expensive today, but once travel to and from orbit become cheap; profit-driven entrepreneurs will head for the high frontier to build hotels, permanent housing, and entertainment and sports facilities.

Exploring space will also push genetic research. Better Humans author Simon Smith claims environments such as Mars extreme cold temperatures and toxic atmosphere will require biological changes. Sending humans into space without genetic modification would be impractical. (cont.)

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Life in the 2040s: indefinite lifespan, 'smart' homes, skycars

July 15 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Other   Year: Beyond   Rating: 4 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Imagine living in a perfect body without fear of unwanted death. Consider a world where “smart” homes with friendly bio-materials responds to our every whim; and bird-like skycars on autopilot whisk us silently through the sky to our destinations.

Although these scenarios may seem too futuristic to happen in just 32 to 42 years, positive futurists believe that exponentially-advancing technologies could turn this 2040s vision into reality.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil, in The Singularity is Near describes many of these technologies including how our bodies will evolve. Today’s frail human body “version 1.0” has a high failure rate – More than 50 million will die this year. Over the next two decades, biotech and nanotech advances will provide a stronger “version 2.0”, which will reduce deaths significantly.

“This brings us to “version 3.0”, Kurzweil says, “an amazing body that boasts a zero failure rate.” Even if a destructive accident were to occur, 2040s technologies would immediately construct a new body, retrieve mind and memories, and allow our indefinite lifespan to continue.

Homes will not look sci-fi in 2040, because most people still enjoy living in houses, not futuristic pods. But tomorrow’s residences will include biomaterials imbedded in ceilings, walls and floors that kill harmful germs, provide pleasant odors, and make us feel cozy and secure. (cont.)

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Glowing future predicted by UN "State of the Future Report"

July 30 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Other   Year: 2008   Rating: 4 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

We’ve seen the future … and we may not be doomed. The just published 2008 United Nations report, with input from 2,500 experts from around the world finds life is improving for people worldwide – but governments are failing to grasp the opportunities offered.

“This is a unique time in history. Mobile phones, the Internet, international trade, language translation and jet planes are giving birth to an interdependent humanity that can create and implement global strategies to improve its prospects,” the report states. “It is increasingly clear that the world has the resources to address our common challenges. Ours is the first generation with the means for many to know the world as a whole, identify global improvement systems, and seek to improve them.”

The world is about to enjoy a prosperous future with an unprecedented ability to extend lifespan and increase the power of ordinary people. The life extension movement is growing exponentially and could be the next significant field targeted by venture capitalists as alternative energy and clean tech wane.

Made possible by soaring healthcare costs, unfunded Medicare-type liabilities in every industrialized nation, and the demographic aging of populations, the rapidly expanding life extension industry encompasses the commercialization of scientific findings from stem cell, genetic engineering, regenerative medicine, human enhancements, and other areas of health research.

“Advances in science, technology, education, economics, and management,” the report continues, “seems capable of making the world work far better than it does today.” Medical breakthroughs are offering the hope of defeating inherited diseases, tailoring cures to individual patients – and even creating replacement body parts.

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Scientists take aim at body's killers

August 08 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 4

By Dick Pelletier

Eliminating the top three major causes of death may sound like science fiction, but revolutionary new medical techniques are being developed that could protect most Americans from these killers by as early as 2020.

In two recent PBS programs, “Innovations” and “Charlie Rose,” experts declared we are at war with the three leading causes of death in America – heart disease, cancer, and obesity. The problems are enormous, researchers said, but all were confident we could win this war. As early as the third decade, they claimed, death from all three of these horrible diseases could be completely eliminated.

Stem cells are rapidly becoming the “magic bullet” of choice in this war. Scientists are identifying the genetic signals that instruct stem cells to grow new tissues in spinal cords, hearts, bones, brains, teeth; even aging skin. U.S. clinical trials are a ways off, but experimentations are already underway in Portugal and China.

Dr. Carlos Lima, at Egas Moniz Hospital in Lisbon and Dr. Hongyun Huang at Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing are treating quadriplegic and heart attack patients today. They harvest stem cells from patients’ noses and transplant them into damaged spinal cord and heart muscle sites. Healing is slow, but as more stem cell “secrets” are unraveled, recovery time will speed up.

False teeth will soon become a thing of the past also, thanks to stem cell research conducted by Professor Paul Sharpe at Kings College in London. Successful tests on mice suggest that people will soon be able to grow new tooth buds. Human trials could begin in two years, and the cost per tooth is expected to be about the same as synthetic implants.

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Voice-enabled ID chips will soon make our lives more efficient

September 03 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 1

By Dick Pelletier

You enter the supermarket, grab an electronic cart that recognizes you from your touch, toss in some bags and begin shopping. The monitor on your ‘smart cart’ displays products, price, and total amount spent; and even subtracts items returned to the shelf.

As you wind through the aisles, the cart’s voice recognizes products you’re running low on, and offers special discounts just for you. When finished shopping, simply tap a ‘chipped’ finger indicating payment preference and walk out the door – no more lines or grocery clerks to deal with. On exit, select an option to deactivate or encrypt all chips, which protects your privacy by preventing evildoers from tracking you or your merchandise.

After putting items away at home, the milk might say, “I expire in nine days, would you like a 24-hour reminder”, or the hat you purchased may say, “Hey Dick, why not wear me now, you know how great I make you look”.

By 2012, experts believe the above scenarios could be happening at stores everywhere.

Milwaukee futurist David Zach agrees that voice-enabled chips will increase efficiency. Clothes could remark, “Don’t wash me with colors”; cars may cry out, “I need oil”, and a glass might tell the bartender, “he’s had enough”.

Wearable computer maker Vocollect believes their voice-enabled machines can team up with RFID (Radio Frequency ID) chips used to identify items, and create an enormous array of exciting applications.

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