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Tagged with “future” (66) activity chart

  1. Little Atoms 319 — FutureEverything 2014 — James Bridle & Eleanor Saitta

    James Bridle is a writer, artist, publisher and technologist usually based in London, UK. His work covers the intersection of literature, culture and the network. He has written for WIRED, ICON, Domus, Cabinet, the Atlantic and many other publications, and writes a regular column for the Observer newspaper on publishing and technology. In 2011, he coined the term “New Aesthetic”, and his ongoing research around this subject has been featured and discussed worldwide. His work, such as the Iraq War Historiography, an encyclopaedia of Wikipedia Changelogs, has been exhibited at galleries in the Europe, North and South America, Asia and Australia, and has been commissioned by organisations such as Artangel, Mu Eindhoven, and the Corcoran Gallery, Washington DC.

    Eleanor Saitta is a hacker, designer, artist and writer. She makes a living and a vocation of understanding how complex systems operate and redesigning them to work, or at least fail, better. Her work is transdisciplinary, using everything from electronics, software, and paint to social rules and words as media with which to explore and shape our interactions with the world. Her focuses include the seamless integration of technology into the lived experience, the humanity of objects and the built environment, and systemic resilience and conviviality. Eleanor is Principal Security Engineer at the Open Internet Tools Project (OpenITP), directing the OpenITP Peer Review Board for open source software and working on adversary modeling. She is also Technical Director at the International Modern Media Institute (IMMI), a member of the advisory boards at Geeks Without Bounds (GWoB) and the Calyx Institute, and works on occasion as a Senior Security Associate with Stach & Liu. She is a founder of the Constitutional Analysis Support Team (CAST), previously co-founded the Seattle-based Public N3rd Area hacker space, and works on the Trike and Briar projects.


    —Huffduffed by adactio one week ago

  2. William Gibson: The New Cyber/Reality

    The man who coined the term "cyberspace," science fiction writer and futurist William Gibson joins The Agenda to discuss the new cyber-reality and where the human race might be headed next.

    —Huffduffed by adactio one week ago

  3. You Are Not So Smart 020 – James Burke and Matt Novak ponder the future and why we are terrible at predicting it

    If you love educational entertainment – programs about science, nature, history, technology and everything in between – it is a safe bet that the creators of those shows were heavily influenced by the founding fathers of science communication: Carl Sagan, David Attenborough, and James Burke.

    In this episode of the You Are Not So Smart Podcast we sit down with James Burke and discuss the past, the present, and where he sees us heading in the future. Burke says we must soon learn how to deal with a world in which scarcity is scarce, abundance is abundant, and home manufacturing can produce just about anything you desire.

    James Burke is a legendary science historian who created the landmark BBC series Connections which provided an alternative view of history and change by replacing the traditional “Great Man” timeline with an interconnected web in which all people influence one another to blindly direct the flow of progress. Burke is currently writing a new book about the coming age of abundance, and he continues to work on his Knowledge Web project.

    We also sit down with Matt Novak, creator and curator of Paleofuture, a blog that explores retro futurism, sifting through the many ways people in the past predicted how the future would turn out, sometimes correctly, mostly not.

    Together, Burke and Novak help us understand why we are to terrible at predicting the future and what we can learn about how history truly unfolds so we can better imagine who we will be in the decades to come.

    After the interview, I discuss a news story about how cigarettes affect the way your brain interprets cigarette advertising.

    In every episode, before I read a bit of self delusion news, I taste a cookie baked from a recipe sent in by a listener/reader. That listener/reader wins a signed copy of my new book, “You Are Now Less Dumb,” and I post the recipe on the YANSS Pinterest page. This episode’s winner is Patrick Regan who submitted a recipe for orange slice cookies. Send your own recipes to david {at} youarenotsosmart.com.


    —Huffduffed by adactio one month ago

  4. George Dyson, Freeman Dyson, Esther Dyson: The Difficulty of Looking Far Ahead - The Long Now

    Finessing the future

    Instead of one podium there were four chairs on the stage of Wednesday’s seminar. In three seats, three Dysons: Esther, George and Freeman. They were appearing together on stage for the first time. The fourth held Stewart Brand who led the three through an evening of queries. The questions came from Stewart himself, from the audience, and from one Dyson to another Dyson — a first for this format in a Long Now seminar.

    George introduced his dad with an exquisite slideshow of Freeman’s prime documents. He began with a scan of a first grade school paper Freeman wrote on “Astronimy.” Besides the forgivable misspellings, the essay was full of fantasy. Freeman did not just copy material from an encyclopedia. He imagined what should be and wrote it as fact. George then showed a later blue-book essay of Freeman’s fiction, but it was studded with numbers and calculations. Right there was the pattern for Freeman’s many other publications (first pages shown by George): speculations built upon calculations. We saw one paper inscribed by Freeman with the note: “From one crackpot to another!” His most famous speculation is for a solar system-sized enclosure around a sun now called a Dyson Sphere. George’s presentation on Freeman ended with a video clip of a Star Trek episode where the befuddle Captain Piccard ponders a mysterious hollow solar-sized ball blocking their way and gasps, “Could it be a dyson-sphere?!!”

    Freeman followed this with a few minutes of musing on the difficulty of long term predictions. When Von Neumann and others were working on the first computers, none of them could imagine they would be used in toys for 3-year olds. In a theme that he would return to the rest of the evening, Freeman compared that surprise with the coming surprises we’ll see in biotech. He said, “It is unfortunate that Von Neumann used the first computers to build nuclear weapons, because computers became associated with institutional destruction. The same thing is happening now with biotech. It is unfortunate that the first biotech is being used for institutional destruction of weeds, but soon biotech will become smaller scale, user-friendly, and employed by gardeners, naturalists, and kids to make their own creations. People’s feelings about biotech will also change.”

    “I misjudged a lot of things. Like nuclear power took much longer than I thought. We also thought we had a wonderful spaceship that was going to take us to Saturn (we were really going to go ourselves). The hardest thing to foresee is how long things take.” Freeman sang the praises of science fiction as hugely important for science. “It’s where the most radical ideas come from first.” He wishes he read more of it, a sentiment echoed by George and Esther.

    Esther chimed in with her interpretation of future study. Freeman, she said, tried to understand things now by speculating on their future, while George mined the past to try to understand the future. She, on the contrary, wasn’t interested in understanding the future. She chiefly wanted to affect it. “What good is it to have a conference about future technologies unless you can in some way make things happen?”

    What won’t change? That was a question from the audience. George told about spying inhabited islands off the coast of the northwest 30 years ago and expecting that technology would transform them into places full of humans. But they are still deserted; cities are ever more enticing. The early native tribes he studied would have 12 good friends and 30 close acquaintances. He says that if you check people’s cell phones they have on average 12 intimate friends always allowed to ring and 30 names to call out. We haven’t changed much.

    Freeman continued that thread saying he is a skeptic of the singularity notion. “My mother saw more change in her life than I have. She went from traveling in a pony cart to flying across the ocean in a jet. I don’t see things going faster. It is an illusion.”

    I asked, “What have you changed you mind about?” Esther said she changed her mind about anonymity. She used to think it was hugely important, but now she believes everything works out better when there is transparency, including in people. “We may become more tolerant because everything is visible.”

    Freeman admitted he was a skeptic on global warming. His problem was not change in the climate. “In the long view we ARE changing the climate.” He felt that climate was hugely complex, that we understand very little of it and many people are reducing this unknown complexity into one data point — the average temperature somewhere. Until we understand what kind of changes we are making in our “solutions” he says he believes the best action on global climate change right now is inaction.

    Of course this is only a sample of the wide-ranging conversation, which lasted 90 minutes. (Like all past talks, this one will be posted for download streaming on the Long Now site.) The agile wit and intelligence of the three Dysons was in full gear by the end of the seminar. This exchange near the end is paraphrased from my rough notes, which I believe captures the tone of the evening:

    Stewart: You are 81, Freeman, and pro biotech. What’s your take on bio-engineered longevity?

    Freeman: The worst thing that could happen would be if doctors cured death. There would be no room for young people in power. It would be the end of science! For me it is a black cloud on the horizon. But I think it is unavoidable. First we’ll extend life to 100 years, then to 200 years, 300 and so on…

    George: Just like copyright!

    Freeman: Really. The only solution is to move far far away, to have other worlds, in space or on planets where the young can dominate.

    Esther: Even better, send the old guys to Mars!

    It was great to have the three Dysons on earth, young and old.

    —Kevin Kelly


    —Huffduffed by adactio 2 months ago

  5. Future Screens are Mostly Blue | 99% Invisible

    Folks looking for a lighter take on the problems of designing for an imagined future might want to screen “Desk Set,” a romantic comedy from 1957 starring Tracy & Hepburn. It concerns a group of researchers at a national network (a thinly disguised NBC) who fear being replaced by an “electronic brain” named EMERAC. Although its name is very similar to the University of Pennsylvania’s ENIAC, EMERAC is really more like Remington Rand’s UNIVAC—the first widely available mainframe.

    Considering the fact that this “sci-fi” is set, not in a world centuries beyond the Eisenhower era, but in a world we can now easily recognize as the mid-1960s, it’s amazing how much the writers, designers and set decorators got wrong. By the late ‘50s, it was already apparent that transistors would make mainframes ever smaller, yet EMERAC is gigantic, easily dwarfing every other element on the set. Granted, the size of EMERAC may have more to do with the idea that technology was a huge threat to the “ladies” of the research department. Its size was merely the physical embodiment of what the electronic revolution would mean to people who earned their livings with pencils and paper.

    In spite of the laughable beeps, boops and groans emitted by EMERAC (at one point it actually vents steam), a critical scene absolutely nails what the computer/Internet revolution would mean to clerks and librarians. The president of the network challenges the researchers to retrieve an obscure statistic about damage to U.S. forests caused by the spruce bud worm. We’re informed in an aside that it had taken weeks to find the information with traditional, library-based methods. The nerdy mistress of EMERAC sits down at a keyboard and types in: “How much damage is done annually to American forests by the spruce bud worm?” Almost instantaneously EMERAC spits out the answer.

    The original Broadway playwright, William Marchant, clearly saw where the world was headed, because we all do pretty much the same thing every day with Google.


    —Huffduffed by adactio 2 months ago

  6. David Weinberger on knowledge

    David Weinberger, senior researcher at Harvard Law’s Berkman Center for the Internet & Society and Co-Director of the Harvard Library Innovation Lab at Harvard Law School, discusses his new book entitled, “Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room.” According to Weinberger, knowledge in the Western world is taking on properties of its new medium, the Internet. He discusses how he believes the transformation from paper medium to Internet medium changes the shape of knowledge. Weinberger goes on to discuss how gathering knowledge is different and more effective, using hyperlinks as an example of a speedy way to obtain more information on a topic. Weinberger then talks about how the web serves as the “room,” where knowledge seekers are plugged into a network of experts who disagree and critique one another. He also addresses how he believes the web has a way of filtering itself, steering one toward information that is valuable.


    —Huffduffed by adactio 3 months ago

  7. Gabriella Coleman on the ethics of free software

    Gabriella Coleman, the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy in the Art History and Communication Studies Department at McGill University, discusses her new book, “Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking,” which has been released under a Creative Commons license.

    Coleman, whose background is in anthropology, shares the results of her cultural survey of free and open source software (F/OSS) developers, the majority of whom, she found, shared similar backgrounds and world views. Among these similarities were an early introduction to technology and a passion for civil liberties, specifically free speech.

    Coleman explains the ethics behind hackers’ devotion to F/OSS, the social codes that guide its production, and the political struggles through which hackers question the scope and direction of copyright and patent law. She also discusses the tension between the overtly political free software movement and the “politically agnostic” open source movement, as well as what the future of the hacker movement may look like.


    —Huffduffed by adactio 3 months ago

  8. James Barrat on the future of Artificial Intelligence

    James Barrat, author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, discusses the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Barrat takes a look at how to create friendly AI with human characteristics, which other countries are developing AI, and what we could expect with the arrival of the Singularity. He also touches on the evolution of AI and how companies like Google and IBM and government entities like DARPA and the NSA are developing artificial general intelligence devices right now.

    —Huffduffed by adactio 3 months ago

  9. Vernor Vinge: What If the Singularity Does NOT Happen? - The Long Now

    Non-Singularity scenarios

    Vinge began by declaring that he still believes that a Singularity event in the next few decades is the most likely outcome— meaning that self-accelerating technologies will speed up to the point of so profound a transformation that the other side of it is unknowable.

    And this transformation will be driven by Artificial Intelligences (AIs) that, once they become self-educating and self-empowering, soar beyond human capacity with shocking suddenness.

    He added that he is not convinced by the fears of some that the AIs would exterminate humanity.

    He thinks they would be wise enough to keep us around as a fallback and backup— intelligences that can actually function without massive connectivity!

    (Later in the Q&A I asked him about the dangerous period when AI’s are smart enough to exterminate us but not yet wise enough to keep us around.

    How long would that period be?

    “About four hours,” said Vinge .)

    Since a Singularity makes long-term thinking impractical, Vinge was faced with the problem of how to say anything useful in a Seminar About Long-term Thinking, so he came up with a plausible set of scenarios that would be Singularity-free.

    He noted that they all require that we achieve no faster-than-light space travel.

    The overall non-Singularity condition he called “The Age of Failed Dreams.”

    The main driver is that software simply continues failing to keep pace with hardware improvements.

    One after another, enormous billion-dollar software projects simply do not run, as has already happened at the FBI, air traffic control, IRS, and many others.

    Some large automation projects fail catastrophically, with planes running into each.

    So hardware development eventually lags, and materials research lags, and no strong AI develops.

    To differentiate visually his three sub-scenarios, Vinge showed a graph ranging over the last 50,000 and next 50,000 years, with power (in maximum discrete sources) plotted against human populaton, on a log-log scale.

    Thus the curve begins at the lower left with human power of 0.3 kilowatts and under a hundred thousand population, curves up through steam engines with one megawatt of power and a billion population, up further to present plants generating 13 gigawatts.

    His first scenario was a bleak one called “A Return to MADness.”

    Driven by increasing environmental stress (that a Singularity might have cured), nations return to nuclear confrontation and policies of “Mutually Assured Destruction.”

    One “bad afternoon,” it all plays out, humanity blasts itself back to the Stone Age and then gradually dwindles to extinction.

    His next scenario was a best-case alternative named “The Golden Age,” where population stabilizes around 3 billion, and there is a peaceful ascent into “the long, good time.”

    Humanity catches on that the magic ingredient is education, and engages the full plasticity of the human psyche, empowered by hope, information, and communication.

    A widespread enlightened populism predominates, with the kind of tolerance and wise self-interest we see embodied already in Wikipedia.

    One policy imperative of this scenario would be a demand for research on “prolongevity”— “Young old people are good for the future of humanity.”

    Far from deadening progress, long-lived youthful old people would have a personal stake in the future reaching out for centuries, and would have personal perspective reaching back for centuries.

    The final scenario, which Vinge thought the most probable, he called “The Wheel of Time.”

    Catastrophes and recoveries of various amplitudes follow one another.

    Enduring heroes would be archaeologists and “software dumpster divers” who could recover lost tools and techniques.

    What should we do about the vulnerabilities in these non-Singularity scenarios?

    Vinge ’s main concern is that we are running only one, perilously narrow experiment on Earth.

    “The best hope for long-term survival is self-sufficient off-Earth settlements.”

    We need a real space program focussed on bringing down the cost of getting mass into space, instead of “the gold-plated sham” of present-day NASA.

    There is a common critique that there is no suitable place for humans elsewhere in the Solar System, and the stars are too far.

    “In the long now,” Vinge observed, “the stars are not too far.”

    (Note: Vinge’s detailed notes for this talk, and the graphs, may be found online at: http://rohan.sdsu.edu/faculty/vinge /longnow/index.htm ) —Stewart Brand


    —Huffduffed by adactio 3 months ago

  10. 95- Future Screens are Mostly Blue | 99% Invisible

    We have seen the future, and the future is mostly blue.

    Or, put another way: in our representations of the future in science fiction movies, blue seems to be the dominant color of our interfaces with technology yet to come. And that is one of the many design lessons we can learn from sci-fi.

    Designers and sci-fi aficionados Chris Noessel and Nathan Shedroff have spent years compiling real-world lessons that designers can, should, and already do take from science fiction. Their new book, Make It So: Interaction Design Lessons From Science Fiction is a comprehensive compendium of their findings.

    All music (after pledge preamble) is by OK Ikumi.

    Podcast: Download (Duration: 24:49 — 22.8MB)


    —Huffduffed by adactio 3 months ago

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