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Archive for the ‘technology’ tag

Jul 6, 2015

The Netherlands: A Look At The World’s High-Tech Startup Capital

Posted by in categories: economics, education, innovation

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Behind London and Berlin, the Dutch startup scene is already considered to be one of the most prominent in Europe. (If it feels unfair to weigh an entire country against individual cities, consider that the Netherlands has 17 million people crammed into an area half the size of South Carolina.)

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Apr 18, 2015

Game-Changing Technologies

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, disruptive technology, economics, space

Game-changing technologies can be a waste of money or a competitive advantage. It depends on the technology and the organization.

It seems like the term “game-changing” gets tossed around a lot lately. This is particularly true with respect to new technologies. But what does the term mean, what are the implications, and how can you measure it?

With regarding to what it means, I like the MacMillan dictionary definition for game-changing. It is defined as “Completely changing the way that something is done, thought about, or made.” The reason I like this definition is it captures the transformational nature of what springs to mind when I hear the term game-changing. This should be just what it says. Not just a whole new ball game, but a whole new type of game entirely.

Every industry is unique. What is a game-changer for one, might only be a minor disruption or improvement for another. For example, the internal combustion engine was a game-changer for the transportation industry. It was important, though less of a game-changer for the asphalt industry due to secondary effect of increased demand for paved roads.

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Apr 3, 2015

What If We Had Another Earth?

Posted by in categories: futurism, habitats, robotics/AI, space, space travel, strategy

A realistic and desirable human destination would produce a different space program than what we have today.

“We reach for new heights and reveal the unknown for the benefit of humankind.” This is NASA’s Vision Statement. This is NASA’s reason for being, its purpose. This is a vision statement for science and knowledge. This vision statement was crafted in a solar system that has only one planet that is environmentally friendly to human life.

Thanks to the ongoing search for exoplanets, we’ve identified several planets in our galaxy that are Earth sized and in their star’s habitable zone. Based on statistics, potentially billions more are waiting to be found. We are just now developing the technology to detect them. But we’re nowhere near having the technology needed to get to visit them. They are simply too far away.

Now here is where I’d like to pose a what if question: What if there was another habitable planet just like Earth, right here in our own solar system? What would Earth’s space programs look like, if anyone with a good telescope could look up and see another world with oceans, and continents, and clouds, and green forests? I think that it is safe to say that space programs in this imaginary solar system would be vastly different than ours today. This is conjecture, but it seems likely that the vision statement above, would be more in line with making that new world available for humanity.

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Mar 27, 2015

The Robotic Double-Edged Sword

Posted by in categories: automation, disruptive technology, economics, futurism, governance, robotics/AI, space, space travel, strategy

One of the things that I’ve always liked about Star Trek, is the concept of a galaxy spanning civilization. I would expect that before we ever get to that point, we will have a civilization that spans our solar system. Having a solar system spanning civilization has many advantages. It would give us access to resources many times greater than what is found here on Earth. It also provides the opportunity for civilization to expand, and in a worst case scenario, help ensure the survival of humanity.

Millions of people living in spacious environmentally controlled cities on planetary surfaces and in rotating cylinders in free space, with industry that extends from Mercury to the comets is to me, a grand vision worthy of an ambitious civilization. But trying to make that vision a reality will be difficult. The International Space Station has the capacity to house just six people and cost approximately $100B to put in place. With a little simple division, that works out to about $17B per inhabitant! If we used that admittedly crude figure, it would cost $17 trillion to build a 1,000 person habitat in Earth orbit. Clearly, the approach we used to build the ISS will not work for building a solar system civilization!

The ISS model relies on building everything on Earth, and launching it into space. A different model championed by Dr. Philip Metzger, would develop industrial capacity in space, using resources close to home, such as from the Moon. This has the potential to greatly reduce the cost of building and maintaining systems in space. But how to develop that industrial capacity? Remember we can’t afford to launch and house thousands of workers from Earth. The answer it would seem, is with advanced robotics and advanced manufacturing.

But is even this possible? The good news is that advanced robotics and advanced manufacturing are already being rapidly developed here on Earth. The driver for this development is economics, not space. These new tools will still have to be modified to work in the harsh environment of space, and with resources that are different from what are commonly used here on Earth. While learning to adapt those technologies to the Moon and elsewhere in the solar system is not trivial, it is certainly better that having to develop them from scratch!

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Jan 25, 2015

Bitcoin Will End the Nation State

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, disruptive technology, economics, geopolitics

Everything you’ve come to know about pensions, social welfare programs, and nationality as an ideology, will be obliterated by the implications of bitcoin.

Read the full article on Diginomics.

Jan 22, 2015

First Robotics– Who Are the Celebrities of the Future?

Posted by in categories: lifeboat, science

At the most basic level The FIRST Robotics Competition, founded by inventor Dean Kamen, looks to the future by developing the next generation of the world’s engineers. Many of the students at FIRST go on to work at very influential titans of technology, or at future oriented organizations such as NASA. This documentary on FIRST Robotics is our eighth main piece in our Galactic Public Archives series in which we explore compelling visions of our future from influential individuals. So far, we’ve covered an interesting collection of viewpoints and topics regarding our possible future, ranging from the future of longevity, to the future of search and even the future of democracy. FIRST seemed like a natural opportunity to explore another ‘puzzle-piece’ of what the future might look like. And of course, the competition features Robots, which are an integral piece of any self-respecting utopian or dystopian future. What we did not realize as we started our exploration of the program was that FIRST is not attempting to be a humble building block towards the future. Although only time will tell to what degree it succeeds, it aspires to be a catalyst for much more far-reaching change.

In a society that praises the utmost competitive spirit in all the wrong ways, Inventor Dean Kamen noticed less and less youth using this spirit towards opportunities in math and science, instead aspiring to become celebrities, or sports superstars. In turn, he provided an answer to make kids excited about changing the world through technology. Kamen’s endeavor, FIRST Robotics offers teens a chance, in competition form, to use their skills and teamwork to problem solve a piece of machinery to life.

FIRST was modeled off the allure of professional sports leagues but without – hopefully — the dog eat dog spirit. David Lavery, FIRST Robotics Mentor and NASA Engineer, grew up during the Cold War when competition through technology meant joining in on the race to the moon. An interesting aspect of FIRST’s philosophy, is that as much as it embraces competition, students are also forced to realize that your greatest competitor could – in the future — work as one of your greatest collaborators. This generation may be bombarded with news about Kardashians as opposed to scientists, astronauts and cosmonauts — but what FIRST aims to cultivate, is a hunger to make a difference – made possible now more than ever due to widespread access to information.

Directly and tangentially, the experiment of FIRST both tackles and raises an entire swarth of deeper questions about our future. What values will our culture celebrate in the future? What will the repercussions be of the values that we celebrate today? How much time do we have to solve some of the great challenges looming on the horizon? Will there be enough individuals with the skills required to tackle those problems? To what degree will the ‘fixes’ be technological vs. cultural? How will the longstanding ideological struggle of competition vs. cooperation evolve as the next generations take over? What is the future of education? What is the proper role of a teacher? A mentor? Where does cultural change come from? Where should it come from? It’s an impressive list of questions to be raised by a competition involving robots shooting frisbees. We hope you find it as compelling as we did.

Jan 8, 2015

How Creative Are You? Pt. III — Environment

Posted by in categories: science, transhumanism

One of the major aspects that can make or break a creative person according to FM-2030 is the environment. In his book “Are You A Transhuman?”, he asks the reader to grade their own surroundings: “Does your home environment stimulate innovation — cross fertilization — initiative?”

We bet you can see where this is going.

The answers are, once more, “Often, Sometimes, or Hardly Ever”, with “Often being the answer choice that gives you the most points — another 2 to tally up to your score if you’re already proving to be more transhumanist that you thought. It might seem obvious, but it’s true — environment can play a major role in the stimulation of creativity. FM says that “It is difficult to be precise about creativity — how much of it is inherited and how much is learned.” If an environment is one that “encourages free unrestricted thinking… encourages people to take initiatives… open and ever-changing”, it is a dynamic environment that can stimulate creativity in an individual.

Continue reading “How Creative Are You? Pt. III — Environment” »


Dec 25, 2014

Who is Dr. Aubrey De Grey?

Posted by in categories: health, science

This archive file was compiled from an interview conducted at the SENS Research Foundation in Mountain View, California, February 2013.

About Dr. Aubrey de Grey: The first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, decided in the 200s BC not to die, and assembled China’s best thinkers and searchers to solve the problem of death. Things did not work out for him. As of the early 21st century, historical efforts at reliable health in old age displayed a reliable pattern of failure. While the eventual crystallization of the scientific method and resulting technology had greatly improved many people’s life expectancy, the longest possible lifespan of an individual had proved to be a much more stubborn thing. Dr. Aubrey de Grey shot to controversial prominence in the 2000s, proposing that for the first time in history, developments in a wide variety of fields made it plausible to advocate for health technology which would significantly tackle age-related disease — possibly allowing the old to live with a higher quality of life and the same low ‘risk of death’ as the young.

Wikipedia:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aubrey_de_Grey

SENS Research Foundation:
sens.org/research

Nov 13, 2014

FM-2030: What is the Future of Democracy? Part 2

Posted by in categories: futurism, lifeboat, philosophy, science

The audio in this archive file was compiled from a 1984 meeting of futurists, transhumanists, and progressives. The main topic of the meeting was the most appropriate ways to engage or advance these philosophies within government. For example, one significant point of discussion centered around whether running for office was an effective way to drive change.

In the course of the discussion, the primary viewpoint FM-2030 espoused was that some aspects of government — especially the concept of leadership — would become obsolete or be replaced by other aspects of society (see Part 1). However, he also expressed what he believed the core of a ‘true’ democracy might look like. This archive file is assembled from excerpts of that section of the discussion.

Nov 6, 2014

FM-2030: What is the Future of Democracy? Part 1

Posted by in categories: futurism, lifeboat, philosophy, science

The audio in this archive file was compiled from a 1984 meeting of futurists, transhumanists & progressives. The main topic of the meeting was the most appropriate ways to engage or advance these philosophies within government. For example, one significant point of discussion centered around whether running for office was an effective way to drive change.

The excerpts in this archive file collect many of futurist FM 2030’s thoughts over the course of the discussion.

About FM 2030: FM 2030 was at various points in his life, an Iranian Olympic basketball player, a diplomat, a university teacher, and a corporate consultant. He developed his views on transhumanism in the 1960s and evolved them over the next thirty-something years. He was placed in cryonic suspension July 8th, 2000.

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