Characters on Star Trek suffer frequent misadventures on the holodeck, a room that creates advanced holograms indistinguishable from reality. But now theoretical physicists such as Brian Greene, host of the recent PBS special The Fabric of the Cosmos, are starting to wonder if every object in the universe isn’t some sort of hologram. Greene talks physics and science fiction in this week’s episode of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast.
Tagged with “wired” (8)
Noted author and futurist Vernor Vinge is surprisingly optimistic when it comes to the prospect of civilization collapsing.
“I think that [civilization] coming back would actually be a very big surprise,” he says in this week’s episode of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “The difference between us and us 10,000 years ago is … we know it can be done.”
Vinge has a proven track record of looking ahead. His 1981 novella True Names was one of the first science fiction stories to deal with virtual reality, and he also coined the phrase, “The Technological Singularity” to describe a future point at which technology creates intelligences beyond our comprehension. The term is now in wide use among futurists.
But could humanity really claw its way back after a complete collapse? Haven’t we plundered the planet’s resources in ways that would be impossible to repeat?
“I disagree with that,” says Vinge. “With one exception — fossil fuels. But the stuff that we mine otherwise? We have concentrated that. I imagine that ruins of cities are richer ore fields than most of the natural ore fields we have used historically.”
That’s not to say the collapse of civilization is no big deal. The human cost would be horrendous, and there would be no comeback at all if the crash leaves no survivors. A ravaged ecosphere could stymie any hope of rebuilding, as could a disaster that destroys even the ruins of cities.
“I am just as concerned about disasters as anyone,” says Vinge. “I have this region of the problem that I’m more optimistic about than some people, but overall, avoiding existential threats is at the top of my to-do list.”
Few things seem more pathetic than a science fiction writer who pines for the “good old days.” Just a whiff of that sort of crippling nostalgia sets off a red alert in the crackling mind of William Gibson, the novelist who coined the term “cyberspace” and is known for his piercing insights into what the future might look like.
On a jam-packed show this week, we’ll go behind-the-scenes of the BBC’s 1986 Domesday Project and speak to the man who led the project 25 years ago.
Liv and Nate also discuss the important and weird stories on Wired.co.uk this week, including Foxconn’s anti-suicide worker contracts, the new efforts to get university graduates into British start-ups and the man who built a five-inch stylus to strap to his face to help him use his iPhone more easily in the bath.
Imogen blew our minds with a performance at our Future of Music event this week and we couldn’t let her leave the building without getting her on the show. We also discuss the state of digital music consumption with Universal Music’s director of digital, Paul Smernicki.
Of course, we’ve also got our usual discussion of some of the most interesting stories from the Wired world, including remeasuring Everest’s height, genuine-looking-but-totally-fake Apple stores in China and more.
Colin Marshall talks to Kevin Kelly, co-founder of and “Senior Maverick” at Wired magazine. In addition to his copious online writing on technology and culture, he’s published such books as New Rules for the New Economy and Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, the Economic World. His latest book, What Technology Wants, explores the nature of what he calls the “technium”, that is, technology itself, considered as one big organism which grows, changes, and definitely wants something.
Years ago I did my own called Morning Coffee Notes.
Today, I did a 1/2 hour podcast in the coffeenotes thread.
It’s about WikiLeaks, Wired, Salon and the freedom of the Internet.
New actors, same story!
Kevin is currently senior maverick at Wired magazine. He co-founded the popular technology magazine, and is also an author and blogger. His new book, What Technology Wants, is due out in October 2010.
We wanted to get Kevin’s take on how important play is to the character of the web. Nora and Kevin also talked about technology more broadly, and the hope is we’ll be able air some of those questions and answers in future episodes.