Norvig, Omohundro, Goertzel and Pell Say How They'd Advise Obama's if Appointed U.S. CTO

November 15 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

Live-blogging from Convergence 2008.

Moderator Jonas Lamis just asked the distinguished AI Panel what they would advise the new Obama administration to do if, by chance, each was appointed national CTO?

Google’s Peter Norvig: First advice, “Don’t choose me.” (Audience laughs.) Most important advice is to do what the President-Elect is already doing. #1: Believe in reality. The next thing is to invest in R&D. It’s important to re-establish the United States as a leader there. We’ve slipped over the last 8 years or so interms of funding research.

Steve Omohundro: Imprtant to use tech to make better decisions in our society. This is a huge opportunity for aggregating beliefs and desires of voters. Through semantic consensus we could better express nuances. The bailout is the perfect example – 99 to 1 against bailout, ended up passing it. Morphing as we speak… Potential pathways as we move to the future – now a smattering of diff orgs – better to have country-wide analysis of this future pathway.

Ben Goertzel of SIAI:

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[Blogpinion] GM Volt Enthusiast Asks the Government to Turn the Bailout up to Eleven

November 14 2008 / by joelg / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Transportation   Year: 2008   Rating: 10 Hot

by Joel Greenberg

What Happened?
Dr. Lyle J. Dennis today asked readers of his GM-Volt.com enthusiast site to sign a petition asking the Bush Administration to bail out GM. As a public advocate of the electrification of the automobile, Dennis believes without a bailout, GM will die and so will the Volt, not to mention Project Driveway, GM’s fuel cell initiative.

GM has announced the Chevy Volt will ship in 2010 with a price somewhere in the $30,000 dollar range. The big question is whether or not GM will survive long enough to see 2010 and the release of the Volt.

Why This Is Important to the Future of Energy
The first successfully mass marketed electric vehicle will tip the market away from oil and to electricity.

Here at The Energy Roadmap we’ve been talking over Skype about the Volt’s future given the economy. Garry Golden told me, “At the end of the day, they’re likely to tank Chrysler before they tank General Motors if they see it as a much more functional and valuable company.’”

Says Golden, “GM is in the best position to make this leap to electric vehicles,” because of their R&D commitment to these vehicles.

If there’s time.

What to Watch For

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Is Turning to the Open Sea the Future of Freedom?

November 13 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: The Home   Year: Beyond   Rating: 8 Hot

As technology makes communication and perhaps even sovereignty more fluid will humans flock to the sea to realize such benefits?

Parti Friedman, Executive Director of the Sea Steading Institute, paints a future scenario in which modular ocean-based living transforms government, democracy and, most importantly, quality of life.

[Video] Kevin Kelly on Semantic Web, Cloud Computing and Social Web

November 10 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2016   Rating: 1

Kevin Kelly (of Whole Earth Catalog and Wired fame) spoke at the recent O’Reilly Web 2.0 Summit November 5-7, 2008. His brief talk explores the evolution of today’s web towards more semantic capabilities of linking smart data (rather than websites and documents), infrastructure based on cloud computing (moving from machines to databases) and more transparent social web experiences (expand functional benefits from sharing).

What is our future augmented relationship to the web? ‘Extreme Dependence’ and ‘Extended Self

Source Kevin Kelly

Ray Kurzweil: The Singularity is Not a Religion

November 06 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Technology   Year: Beyond   Rating: 4 Hot

At last week’s Singularity Summit, Future of Gadgets Editor John Heylin had the opportunity to ask a swarmed Ray Kurzweil, the face of exponential change and the Singularity, one question. As I scrambled to pull out my flip cam to capture the moment, he cut straight to the heart:

Do you feel the Singularity has become its own religious movement inside the science community?

Kurzweil began his response by acknowledging that though there are some people who seek the rapture according to their own preferences, that “the idea of the Singularity did not start from religion.” Instead the concept sprang from “over 30 years of technology trends research.”

But he did admit that it can seem similar to some of the concepts contained in religion:

“Some of the ideas look like a way of transcending our limitations. You can argue that’s what technology does in general, and given that it’s exponential it ultimately feels supposedly transcendent, so people use words like rapture.”

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Intel CTO Rattner: Wireless Power Likely to Produce Devices that Run Infinitely

November 04 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Energy   Year: Beyond   Rating: 1

Intel CTO Justin Rattner paints a scenario in which humans have access to “computers, and cameras, and phones that run infinitely”, relating that the feasibility and demand for such devices has spurred Intel to seriously research the underlying technologies that could spawn such a future reality.

Rattner says Intel has been coming at wireless power “in a number of ways”, first from this notion of “scavenging free energy … from the environment to power all sorts of sensing devices” that broadcast data as they filled up with sufficient energy, but more recently through “injecting energy into the environment … particularly at this idea of coupled magnetic resonance circuits as a way to transmit power in a perfectly safe way.”

With such a heavyweight company devoting real-deal R&D dollars to wireless power one has got to wonder when well start seeing some serious breakthroughs and if, eventually, pervasive power that enables always-on pervasive computing, sensing, and production could become a human reality.

Virtual Going Out is the New Going Out

November 03 2008 / by StuartDobson
Category: Culture   Year: 2008   Rating: 5 Hot

Crossposted from SuperConcepts.

A ‘Virtual’ Escape From Economic Pain: Forbes

It seems that in these times of economic decline, people don’t want to forgo the luxuries that they’ve grown accustomed to over the years, so are choosing to indulge themselves in a virtual manner instead. There’s certainly a lot to be said for staying home surrounded by cheap entertainment compared with going out and being ripped off and mugged. Could this be the future? As Virtual Reality improves, we’ll be finding it replacing more and more of the “Real Life” things we currently take for granted.

Why travel on dangerous, expensive, and environmentally unfriendly airlines when you can immerse yourself in a Virtual holiday? Google Earth and Google Street, not to mention other “virtual sightseeing” options have recently taken a lot of big steps towards this. Although virtual reality interfaces have a long way to go before we can experience all the delights of a trip to somewhere beautiful, in the next few years it will be possible to walk down a foreign street on your computer screen, with the realism of a TV documentary. You’ll be able to go into a real shop, select a real item from a real shelf, and make real purchases from the shops on this street, to be delivered to your door. In Second Life, you can already wander around the accurately recreated streets of Dublin and other major cities. Primitive as it is now, we’ll soon be taking it for granted.

In the very distant future, personal nano-fabrication devices could allow us to recreate the exact tastes and textures of foods available anywhere on Earth. And if not, computer interfaces to our brains will merely simulate the feelings and tastes of eating these exotic cuisines. Whether as part of a virtual reality interface or not, the ability to remotely indulge our senses will surely come from somewhere.

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X-Prize CEO Peter Diamandis Envisions a Race to Claim the Moon

November 03 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 2

As the costs associated with orbital escape and space flight continue to drop the stage will be set for a daring new company to lay claim to parts of the moon and nearby asteroids, posits X-Prize CEO Peter Diamandis.

Diamandis envisions that such a future could produce a “land rush” for rights to lunar surface area, as in this future fiction piece, and asteroid mining rights which could be valued at “hundreds of billions of dollars”. He believes such a resource race is likely to “drive huge investments in launch vehicles, brings the cost down, and open up the future in space that all of us can enjoy.”

Do you agree with such a scenario? Might space industry drive massive economic growth and get us up there along the way?

McKinsey Report: China could lead the world in Electric Vehicles within 20 years

October 30 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Transportation   Year: Beyond   Rating: 1

A recent McKinsey & Co publication titled “China Charges Up” believes that China should expand its capacity to build electric vehicles in the next two decades to avoid issues related to energy security and emissions.

Reuters provides highlights from the publication- ‘within twenty years China could create a world-leading industry and a domestic market alone worth up to US$219.4 billion, even if less than a third of drivers go electric.’ Not only is it plausible that China could emerge as a leader in this new industry, the report suggests is it the ‘Realistic Choice’ given expected constraints of oil supplies and carbon emission regulations.

Could rhetoric of ‘Independence’ fade, as Electric Cars go global?
We have written on several occasions (below) about how electric vehicles, based on the integration of batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors, are quickly becoming a globally integrated industry.

McKinsey does not need a crystal ball to conclude develop a forecast that China could tap its manufacturing might to lead the world in development of low-cost energy storage systems needed to transform the auto industry.

China’s real opportunity- Killing the combustion engine?
The world’s strategic opportunity is not to move beyond oil, but to kill the combustion engine platform which makes oil’s monopoly possible. Shifting to electric motors creates opportunities for ‘all’ energy inputs to create transportation fuels via electricity and hydrogen. (e.g. Today, you cannot put solar electricity into a combustion engine that uses liquid fuels) Domestic energy resources are only valuable to the transportation sector in a post-combustion engine and liquid fuel era.

Now we will see if this McKinsey & Co report brings a new way of thinking to a larger conversation dominated by the rhetoric of ‘energy independence’ that is not aligned with the reality of our global economy. The real upside of global economic interdependence might be the accelerated development of electric vehicles and industrial power provide by China.

Related posts from The Energy Roadmap.com
Detroit to World, Nobody has killed the Electric Car
GM plans to kill Combustion Engine
Electric vehicle industry going global as Asia invests in Energy storage
Hyundai releasing fuel cell car in 2012
India to produce electric cars for Europe
Warren Buffet invests in Chinese battery & electric car maker

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Robotic Pursuit Squads are a Forgone Conclusion

October 28 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Technology   Year: 2013   Rating: 2

How likely is it that 5 years from now, sometime in 2013, the U.S. government will employ a pack of search robots to track human fugitives, enemy combatants or other persons of interest?

Though such an endeavor would mark a serious increase in up-front and maintenance cost, it could also make operations safer for pursuing officers or soldiers and gradually increase the capture success rate. At the same time such a scenario would also thoroughly freak-out an American population increasingly on edge about government intrusion and technological capabilities.

Here’s an example of what such a future might look like, drawn by MemeBox illustrator Lars Olson:

As it turns out, just a few days ago the U.S. Army put out this call for bids on exactly such a project. Their desired outcome is for some smart folks to:

Develop a software and sensor package to enable a team of robots to search for and detect human presence in an indoor environment. [and] Develop a software/hardware suit that would enable a multi-robot team, together with a human operator, to search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject.

If in fact you doubt the near-term likelihood of such a technology suite and program, then look no further than nascent functional technologies such as the surprisingly agile and stable Big Dog robot and already marketed aerial microdrone cameras.

A quick look at these prototype vids should quickly get you on the path to belief:

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Singularity University - Some Thoughts On Function

October 28 2008 / by Will / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Economics   Year: General   Rating: 1

Cross posted from Where there’s a William by Will Brown

What follows is excerpted from, and an expansion of, a comment I made regarding this Future Blogger post.

First, what it shouldn’t be. There are already an abundance of technology/science academies in existence; one more would simply be complicating an already over-engineered wheel. That said, Singularity University (SU) absolutely should arrange (ie: buy) access to those school’s technical curriculum via tele-presence if nothing else.

SU should primarily be modeled after the historical liberal arts education of the 19th century (particularly the English university model of Oxford, Cambridge and the like). The objective being to teach students how to think for themselves by providing them with the lessons learned by previous generations. There is an expression I use, “How can you decide what’s best to do next without knowing what has already been tried?” Practical knowledge of what has been tried, whether it succeeded or not and why provides one with a reference within which to frame a decision.

There is a long-running debate in the US (with variations in other countries as well) regarding the desirability of individual competence over governmental providence. It is rare for the argument to be expressed quite so blatantly, but this confrontation is always fundamental. In the context of today’s topic I will only say that the transition from a human-centric industrial society toward the promise inherent to the singularity concept is certain to be made more disruptive by an expanding dependant class of people then would be the case if the population trend was toward greater personal competence instead. I believe that preparing this potential market ought to be the initial focus point of any institution that seeks to advance society toward a seamless transition with singularity events.

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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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