Archive for the The Future Category

Robot explorers in space

Posted in Space Exploration, Technology, The Future on 2009/06/02 by iyokobat

This is the kind of story that could either get you real excited about space science, or instead cause alarm to Luddites and Butlerian Jihadists (a concept from the Dune books). Autonomous robotic exploration has great potential for space programs and especially for planetary geology. It might provide a means to conduct complex searching and sample collection on another planet, say Mars, without requiring human guidance or intervention.

I think some form of this or at least the idea is already part of the hazard avoidance system on the Mars Exploration Rovers.

Intelligent Robots Will Explore Milky Way by 2020


Where’s my hovercraft?

Posted in Technology, The Future on 2009/05/30 by iyokobat


When you were a kid, thinking about the future, did you have visions of flying cars, robot maids, and transporter devices?  What happened to THAT future?

CNN writer John Blake has an article that explains some of the reasons why we haven’t fully adopted some of the futuristic technology ideas that seemed inevitable

People’s fascination with technology’s imprint on the future didn’t start, however, in the mid-20th century with shows like “The Jetsons” or “Star Trek.”

Joseph Corn, co-author of “Yesterday’s Tomorrows: Past Visions of the American Future,” found an inflated optimism about technology’s impact on the future as far back as the 19th century, when writers like Jules Verne (“Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”) were creating wondrous versions of the future.

Blake shows examples of technology, such as jet-packs, “Smell-o-vision”, and human washing machines, that are technically feasible, but not very practical to the society of today.

Why our ‘amazing’ science fiction future fizzled


Posted in The Future on 2009/05/06 by iyokobat

I haven’t posted much lately, and need to get back on it. But in the absence of something more interesting, here are some splendid quotations for your amusement. I promise to get more meaningful stuff here soon.

“We cannot predict the future, but we can invent it.” –Dandridge M. Cole

“Man has a limited biological capacity for change. When this capacity is overwhelmed, the capacity is in future shock.” –Alvin Toffler

“The future has already happened, it just isn’t very well distributed.” –William Gibson

“I never think of the future, it comes soon enough.” –Albert Einstein

“If you don’t think about the future, you cannot have one.” –John Galsworthy

“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.” –Malcolm X

“I’ve seen the future, brother; it is murder.” –Leonard Cohen

“The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.” — Abraham Lincoln

“It’s hard to make predictions – especially about the future.” –Robert Storm Petersen

“The future will be better tomorrow.” –Dan Quayle

Technology Assessment from the Jetsons Perspective

Posted in Technology, The Future with tags , , on 2009/04/20 by iyokobat


Occasionally I recognize how pop-culture has influenced my expectations of the future. As a young boy I was a fan of most of the sci-fi shows on television: Outer Limits, Lost in Space, Time Tunnel, etc. These shows seem quaint when compared to today’s special effects and production, but they often had interesting stories and ideas about technology, society, and humanity.

Nicole Radziwill has an intriguing post about technology and some of its social implications, filtered through the perspective of one futuristic pioneer, George Jetson.

Technology Assessment from the Jetsons Perspective

Cosmos series available on Hulu

Posted in Astronomy, Physics, The Future with tags , , , , on 2009/04/19 by iyokobat


This may be old news to the highly wired community, but I wanted to mention that the great PBS series “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage”, is now available for free streaming on Hulu. From episode 1, “The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean”, through Episode 13, “Who Speaks for Earth?”, the entire series may be watched on your own desktop.  Unlike the original airing on PBS, note that Hulu does inject a few commercials, but don’t let this stop you from seeing these classic episodes of science.  According to the Science channel, it is still the most widely watched PBS series in the world.

“In 1980, the landmark series Cosmos premiered on public television. Since then, it is estimated that more than a billion people around the planet have seen it. Cosmos chronicles the evolution of the planet and efforts to find our place in the universe. Each of the 13 episodes focuses on a specific aspect of the nature of life, consciousness, the universe and time. Topics include the origin of life on Earth (and perhaps elsewhere), the nature of consciousness, and the birth and death of stars. When it first aired, the series catapulted creator and host Carl Sagan to the status of pop culture icon and opened countless minds to the power of science and the possibility of life on other worlds.”

Cosmos on Hulu

Transcendent Man

Posted in Technology, The Future with tags , , , , on 2009/04/11 by iyokobat


I first heard about Ray Kurzweil in the 1980’s because of his music synthesizers.  There’s now a new movie about Ray and his ideas about the future.

(from “Transcendent Man” introduces the life and ideas of Ray Kurzweil, an inventor since the age of five and the most pre-eminent futurist in the world. Exploring many of the ideas and predictions in his New York Times Best-Seller, The Singularity is Near, the film focuses mostly on Kurzweil’s world-wide speaking tour, as he describes a fast-approaching, radically different future in which we have merged with our computer creations, will overcome our mortality to live indefinitely, and will be billions of times more intelligent. Heavily criticized for being too optimistic about what the future will bring and how it will affect our lives, Ray challenges his detractors even further by publicly stating for the first time his goal of using future technologies to bring back his late father. Through twenty major cities and four continents, Ray Kurzweil leads the filmmakers and the audience on a quest to reveal not only our humanity, but ultimately, our destiny. Written by Felicia Ptolemy

The trailer can be seen here.

Designer Babies

Posted in Technology, The Future with tags , , , on 2009/04/10 by iyokobat


Whether it is employed in modifying food products or breeding animals, the topic of genetic engineering is likely to raise the hackles of most people. When it is discussed in regards to humans, I would bet that even more people are against it or fear it. I have reservations about it not from a moral perspective, but from a human diversity and survival perspective. If we as a species have survived millions of years of evolution through mostly “natural” means, are we going to increase our survival chances by mucking around with something of which we know relatively little? Recently, the mapping of the human genome sequence has been completed (depending on who you ask), but do we really know enough about the long term effects of modifying genetic codes?

“The Fertility Institutes are now offering their clients the ability to select certain traits, like hair and eye color, of the eggs they implant.”

Steven Novella has written an intriguing article on the matter that has spawned some good discussion on his blog. Perhaps it will also generate some thought provoking discussion here.

Designer Babies