Elon Musk has described the colonization of Mars as a planetary “insurance policy.” If we’re going to trash Earth, we’ll need somewhere else to go. The New Yorker’s archive editor, Joshua Rothman, is a lifelong science-fiction fan who has often fantasized about going to the red planet. He speaks with Elizabeth Kolbert, a New Yorker staff writer who is against the galactic-colonization plan, and Jacob Haqq-Misra, a scientist who writes about what the political landscape of an inhabited Mars might look like.
Tagged with “future” (105)
They said it couldn’t be done: Nuclear fusion. We visit scientists building a clean power plant that’s hotter than the sun — but can they ever deliver? Then: the strange world of cold fusion, the people who hate it and the billionaires betting on it.
In 1968, an Italian industrialist and a Scottish scientist started a club to address what they considered to be humankind’s greatest problems—issues like pollution, resource scarcity, and overpopulation. Meeting in Rome, Italy, the group came to be known as the Club of Rome and it grew to include politicians, scientists, economists and business leaders from around the world. Together with a group of MIT researchers doing computer modeling, The Club of Rome concluded that sometime in the 21st century, earth would reach its carrying capacity—that resources would not keep up with population—and there would be a massive collapse of global society. In 1972, the Club of Rome published a book outlining their findings called The Limits to Growth. The book became a bestseller and was translated into more than two dozen languages. It had its critics and detractors, but overall The Limits to Growth was incredibly influential, shaping environmental politics and pop culture for years to come. There was a growing sense that limits would need to be put in place in order to regulate populations and economic growth. But in the midst of the debate, a physicist named Gerard (Gerry) O’Neill suggested a solution—one that would ask us to look beyond planet earth and into outer space.
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There are some very smart people out there arguing that machines and computers are stealing our jobs. And that when these jobs go away, they won’t be replaced. They think that in the future, there will be fewer and fewer jobs.
In the short-term, that’s a big problem, but in the long-term, it could be great news. If robots are doing all the work, people can just relax, right?
What happens when the jobs go away? No one knows. So, in collaboration with The Truth, we made something up. Our show today is a work of fiction.
Three thinkers join us to share their thoughts on modern life and our relationship with technology – a futurist, a neuroscientist and an historian…
Richard Watson, author of the newly-released book Digital vs. Human argues that the relationship between people and technology will define the history of the next 50 years.
Neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer argues that digital technology is not only ineffective as an educational tool for the very young, but hinders their cognitive development.
And historian Gary Cross questions whether our understanding of nostalgia has changed from being one of shared communal memory to one of ego-centricity – defined largely around the consumer technology of our youth.
We know that plants are living entities, but we don’t tend to associate them with intelligence. For many of us, their potential lies in what they can produce post-mortem – timber, food, textiles, etc.
A new field of research called Plant Neurobiology challenges that assumption. Trees not only exhibit a decentralised form of intelligence, proponents argue, but also a social side. And understanding the way in which they might communicate and interact is essential for good forest management and the maintenance of a healthy environment.
We also hear about a project called flora robotica which aims to build a symbiotic relationship between plants and robots; and we’ll meet a Swedish scientist who’s busy trying to turn roses into living electrical circuits – all in the name of cleaner energy.
They infuriate some and delight others, but whether you like them or not, Emoji are certainly getting harder to ignore.
The cute (or infuriating) little picture-symbols that adorn our emails, text messages and online posts are quickly becoming a defining feature of the modern age.
In the past decade-and-a-half they’ve developed from a simple smiley face icon into a complex catalogue of emotional markers, bringing context to curt communication.
There are now even emoji for introverts!
In this new series for Novara TV, James Butler looks at the history and multiple usages of the word ‘Ideology’ and explores how it can be usefully deployed to describe and improve the world we live in.
As designers, new technologies are always capturing our imaginations, but in order to become part of our everyday life they need be introduced through human contexts and meaningful stories. In this talk, IoT expert and “maker-futurist” Carla Diana will share methods and strategies for new product visions based on vivid storytelling and tangible model making, looking at techniques such as scenario storyboarding, video narratives and vision imagery. She’ll share case studies from recent product design projects as well as experiments from her design lab work to showcase ways that near future technologies can be embraced as compelling ideas for new types of everyday products.
Carla Diana is a hybrid designer keenly focused on realising new visions for Smart Objects and the Internet of Things. In addition to her industry experience at some of the world’s top design firms, such as frog Design and Smart Design, Carla maintains strategic alliances with a number of academic research groups. She is a member of the Georgia Tech Socially Intelligent Machines Lab, and a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts and the University of Pennsylvania’s Integrated Product Design Program, where she developed the first course on Smart Objects. She is Advisor for the group Tomorrow-Lab, a young design firm that creates electro-mechanical solutions for smart devices and she continues work as a Fellow at Smart Design, where she oversees the Smart Interaction Lab.
Carla’s recent article, “Talking, Walking Objects”, appeared on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Review in January 2013, and is a good representation of her view of our robotic future. She has just completed a children’s book for Maker Media about the future of 3D printing and design entitled LEO the Maker Prince.
What did you imagine the early 21st century would look like when you were a kid? Was it all flying cars and jetpacks? Daily trips to the moon and hoverboards back here on Earth? Or were you more enamoured with the darker sides of futurism? Perhaps Doomsday prophecies and the ravages of Future Shock were on your mind. Did you sit up nights worrying about acid rain and environmental degradation?
How we imagine the future says a lot about us both as individuals and as groups. And by studying past visions of the future we can not only gain new insights into history, but we might even learn something about where we’re heading today.
Matt Novak’s talk, “A Brief History of Tomorrow”, looks at the history of invention and imagination — from robot vacuum cleaners of the 1950s to visions of the internet before the internet even existed. He’ll trace the history of popular ideas about how we’d be living here in the year 2015, and debunk a few common historical myths along the way. No matter how talented our prognosticators, we often discover that the future is never exactly as anyone predicted. Which is precisely what makes studying it so much fun.
Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo’s Paleofuture blog, which looks at past visions of the future. He explores the history of our most optimistic dreams and our most pessimistic fears by looking at everything from flying cars and utopian communities to overpopulation and complete societal collapse. His work is inspired by his private collection of retro-futuristic artifacts, including hundreds of vintage tech magazines, space age lunchboxes, 1980s videophones, among hundreds of other pieces. Matt started the Paleofuture blog independently in 2007 and it was later acquired by Smithsonian magazine in 2011 and then by Gawker Media in 2013. He currently lives in Los Angeles, a city which has about four years until it’s set to achieve the utopia depicted in the 1982 documentary Blade Runner.
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