Leapfrogging Old Tech

Here’s a sure sign of accelerating technology: the phasing out of old tech to make way for the new.  How long will desktop PCs and Macs, and even laptop computers last as cell phones with all the bells and whistles and tabs, such as the iPad take over more and more of the Internet’s infosphere?

IBM’s CTO has his own thoughts on the near-term future of telecommunications and computing:

IBM CTO Mark Dean of the company’s Middle East and Africa division, one of a dozen IBM engineers who designed that first machine unveiled Aug. 12, 1981, says PCs are “going the way of the vacuum tube, typewriter, vinyl records, CRT and incandescent light bulbs.”

IBM, of course, sold its PC division to Lenovo in 2005. Dean, in a blog post, writes that “I, personally, have moved beyond the PC as well. My primary computer now is a tablet. When I helped design the PC, I didn’t think I’d live long enough to witness its decline. But, while PCs will continue to be much-used devices, they’re no longer at the leading edge of computing.”

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Foreign Policy Magazine and the Future

 

Foreign Policy magazine isn’t known for covering the future.  Check out what they have to say about various foreign policy issues in the future here in their latest on-line issue.

 

Does it look like they’ve considered the impact of accelerating technology?  I’m not sure, but I suspect not.  Here are some of the topics covered:  Everything will be too big to fail, the South China Sea will be the center of conflict, The world will be more crowded with old people.

But here’s one that may include insights about accelerating tech: Technology will take on a life of its own.

And here’s one that’s sure to come true…one way or the other:  The shape of the global economy will fundamentally change.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/the_future_issue

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teleXLR8 is Reopening

 

You can join the discussion by being invited by the organizers, or you can watch the event two days later.

This exciting news just in from Giulio Prisco: “teleXLR8 is reopening on Sunday 21 10 a.m. PST with a talk by [experimental quantum physicist/programmer] Suzanne Gildert on Hack the Multiverse!.”

 

The teleXLR8 online talk program is “a telepresence community for cultural acceleration,” as their blog puts it. Translation: an audiovideo seminar — think TED in Second Life, plus webcam videoconferencing and video session recording.

 

The previous phase of teleXLR8 project last year, based on the Teleplace service, produced excellent online talks by Suzanne Gildert, Ben Goertzel, Max Hodak, Randal A. Koene, Luke Robert Mason, David Orban, Mike Perry, Martine Rothblatt, Anders Sandberg, with interactive audience participants — including me, when I could get up that early. Video highlights are here. Topics included brain-machine interfacing, an immortalist strategy, reconstructing minds from software files, a cosmist manifesto, and realistic routes to substrate-independent minds. (KurzweilAI coveragehere.)

 

teleXLR8 2010 (credit: teleXLR8)

 

Suzanne says: “This talk will be a call to arms. I’ll excite you about quantum physics — our deepest understanding of the Universe. I’ll explain why quantum computing is not as mysterious as everyone thinks. And I’ll show you how to become a quantum computer programmer in less than 10 minutes.

http://networkedblogs.com/lKwFQ

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Optimism is the ONLY Realism

I like the way author Jamie Pope thinks.  He takes his own family’s history and sees what I see:  Accelerating technology at work, reshaping our lives:

If I were asked to summarize what I have learned from my education and life experience, I would say that optimism is the only realism since it’s the only thing congruent with reality. Upon viewing my family history and the history of our country through an economic and humanitarian perspective, it’s impossible to assume otherwise; let’s take a moment to examine history by stepping back two generations to understand such an assertion.

My paternal grandfather, born in 1890, was born when America was an agrarian society. At that time 50% of all workers engaged in food production, 50% of all homes had no running water, and just over 33% of the population had, at minimum, a high school diploma. The equine economy boomed since the model T was merely an imagining of Henry Ford’s; there were no radios, and one’s life expectancy was the ripe old age of 49.

Moving forward forty years, my father was born when automobiles and machinery were commonplace: everyone had a radio, and traditional farm life began to fade rapidly. The Panama Canal was built, the use of horses was no longer a standard, and Edison invented everything from the phonograph to the light bulb. America had fought in WWI and won, and our country had raised health standards considerably thereby expanding life expectancy.  [And so on…]

Article Source: http://ezinearticles.com/?Optimism-is-the-Only-Realism&id=2172203

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How Close Are Scientists to Growing Our Own Replacement Organs?

Closer than even I thought.  Check out this amazing story.

Researchers have built the first functional anal sphincters in the laboratory, suggesting a potential future treatment for both fecal and urinary incontinence. Made from muscle and nerve cells, the sphincters developed a blood supply and maintained function when implanted in mice. The results are reported in the medical journal Gastroenterology.

“In essence, we have built a replacement sphincter that we hope can one day benefit human patients. This is the first bioengineered sphincter made with both muscle and nerve cells, making it ‘pre-wired’ for placement in the body,” said senior author Khalil N. Bitar, Ph.D., a professor of regenerative medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Bitar performed the work when he was on the University of Michigan faculty and it included a colleague from Emory University.

Sphincters are ring-like muscles that maintain constriction of a body passage. There are numerous sphincters in the human body, including those that control the release of urine and feces. There are actually two sphincters at the anus – one internal and one external. Fecal incontinence is the result of a weakened internal sphincter.

There is a high incidence of weakened internal fecal sphincters in older adults; and women who have had episiotomies during childbirth can also be affected. “Many individuals find themselves withdrawing from their social lives and attempting to hide the problem from their families, friends, and even their doctors,” said Bitar. “Many people suffer without help.”

Current options for repair of the internal anal sphincter include grafts of skeletal muscle, injectable silicone material or implantation of mechanical devices, all of which have high complication rates and limited success.

To engineer an internal anal sphincter in the laboratory, the researchers used a small biopsy from a human sphincter and isolated smooth muscle cells that were then multiplied in the lab. In a ring-shaped mold, these cells were layered with nerve cells isolated from mice to build the sphincter. The mold was placed in an incubator for nine days, allowing for tissue formation. The entire process took about six weeks.

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Don’t Get Mad, Get Even

Why companies, even big companies, have no chance of holding any kind of monopoly over the flow of information in the Cloud…or in our age of massively accelerating technology:

Angry and outraged that Apple forced Amazon to pull the link to the Kindle e-book store from within its Kindle iOS app? So was Amazon, but instead of just sitting and whining about it like you and me, Amazon decided to do something. Behold, the Kindle Cloud Reader, a web app that behaves just like a slightly slow native app.

A “web app,” at least on iOS, means a web page that stores itself and its data locally on your iPhone or iPad. It has an icon on your home screen and when you tap it the app launches, usually without the browser bar at the top of the screen. It looks and behaves like a native app (with some limitations), and because it is really a web page, it is exempt from Apple’s App Store rules.

Cloud Reader is clunkier than the regular Kindle app, but sleeker than some actual hardware e-readers. It will store selected books for offline reading (long press a book cover thumbnail to save), as well as automatically cacheing any book you are reading. You can change font size and color, access bookmarks and notes made on other devices, and while you can add new bookmarks, you can’t add highlights, notes or search within a book.

If you hope that this app will replace the native app as your go-to e-reader, you’ll be disappointed. Page turns can be slow when you flick through the book (although if you read at regular speed, the app has time to caches the next page and flipping is instant), and it lacks some essential features.

But this is really about the store, and the Cloud Reader store is great. It’s a lot easier to use than the full-on Kindle web pages. It opens up right in the app, just like Apple’s iBooks Store, and you can browse, search and buy. Better still, you never get presented with non-Kindle titles, and buying is a one-click process.

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Crank Out Those Nanofibers…Faster, Faster!

Our engineers are devising ways to produce nanofibers at an “accelerated” pace.  Sound familiar?

Collections of nanofibers, because they are porous and lightweight, are useful in applications ranging from water filtration to tissue regeneration to energy storage. But although nanofibers are relatively inexpensive to produce, the current method of production – needle electrospinning – is time-intensive.

In electrospinning, a liquid-polymer solution is passed through a hypodermic needle held at high voltage. The needle transfers electric charge, which transforms the solution into a jet of charged liquid that “spins” into a nanofiber as it exits the needle. Unfortunately, this method of production does not lend itself to large-scale manufacturing processes.

NC State physicists Laura Clarke and Jason Bochinski, textile engineer Russell Gorga and graduate student Nagarajan Thoppey found a particularly simple technique that scales up nanofiber production and provides a close connection to the needle electrospinning method.

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