Tomorrow's Internet - holographic get-togethers and more

April 20 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Communication   Year: General   Rating: 12 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

A new higher-speed Internet2, now under development in labs around the world, will one day offer holographic images indiscernible from reality, providing an array of applications that we can only dream of today.

With digital video resolution four times finer than today’s HDTV, and haptic technologies that provide a realistic sense of touch, researchers can create holograph images of people filmed thousands of miles away enabling lifelike virtual interaction indiscernible from reality. The system uses cameras that capture live images of people from two or more places, merges the data, and feeds it back to all locations.

We could organize a meeting with friends or relatives from cities scattered around the world without anyone actually traveling. People will kiss, hug and reminisce as if they were in the same room. And our senses will convince us that they are there. We could even meet with a simulation of a favorite celebrity. (cont.)

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The future includes me

July 15 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 12 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

An ulterior motive drives much of the optimism and positive take that appears in ‘FutureTalk’ articles which describe how the future might unfold.

There is an audacious thought roaming through my brain that the “magical future” I describe so often actually includes me. With a little luck, I believe that I can stay alive and reap all the benefits this wonder time has to offer.

Though more than 50 million will die in 2008, I am convinced that I will not be among them. In researching articles each week, I discover facts that support the optimistic slant that each topic seems to take.

Chronologically my body has reached seventy-seven years; biologically it behaves as a mid-sixty-year-old, and emotionally it sometimes acts like a ‘30 something. By continuing to believe optimistically about the future, it’s easy for me to imagine myself ‘being there’. (cont.)

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Time Travel Could Become Reality

February 27 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 10

Time Travel could become reality sooner than you think.

By Dick Pelletier

At a UCLA workshop attended by yours truly and an assortment of future-thinkers, the late physicist Dr. Robert Forward told the group that further understanding of general relativity and quantum mechanics would one day enable humans to travel backwards and forwards through time. “Given the money and the mandate,” Forward said, “a time machine will be built.”

This workshop convened in 1983, and today, 24 years later, scientists are bringing this bold concept closer to reality. Professor Amos Ori at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology recently created a theoretical model of a time machine based on Einstein’s theory of relativity, which would allow people to travel back in time.

Ori’s theory, published in the prestigious science journal Physical Review, describes how a future time machine could be built by forming “closed time-like curves” in a donut-shaped area of space-time. A person traveling around this donut loop would go further back in time with each lap.

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What happens when machines learn to speak?

May 28 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Communication   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Throw away the computer mouse, keyboard, and TV remote. A new speaking machine, expected in the next decade, is about to become your newest “electronic” friend. This new voice-interactive machine will browse the Internet searching for information it thinks will interest you, and will help unravel the maize of TV channels. The machine will converse in a pleasant voice as it listens carefully to your instructions, then offers suggestions on what Internet data or TV programs it thinks you might enjoy.

This new voice-interactive machine will appear as an avatar – an on-screen image resembling your favorite movie character, religious icon, or loved one. On command, it will appear on the TV screen, computer monitor, car radio or cell phone, addressing you by name, and asking what you would like.

Most people think interactive systems like these are a long way off, but two trends are quickening the pace. Improved speech-recognition systems will soon enable people to converse with computers in normal-spoken language, and entrepreneurs are rushing to the Internet creating new business applications with software “agents” that take advantage of speech recognition.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates claims that by 2012, voice-enabled “smart” systems will allow us to converse naturally and comfortably, directly with our display, reducing need for mouse and keyboard. Avatars will help us shop, work, learn, and conduct business and social relationships on the Internet. At home, they will provide security, change lighting and temperature as needed, and deliver news, sports, games, and entertainment anywhere in the house. (cont.)

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Earth 12000: Exploring space, time, and parallel universes

July 03 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

A glance at what life may be like ten millennia from now, by Dick Pelletier

Of course, nobody can predict exactly how the future will unfold in 10,000 years, but by tracking technology advances expected in the coming centuries, we see changes that will transform humanity into super-intelligent beings focused on developing space, exploring universes, and traveling through time.

Imagine if you could peek in on the dinosaurs’ first-hand, enjoy an exotic vacation thousands of light years from Earth, or jump into a parallel universe where another you is living a far more exciting life than yours – and you could stay there if you like.

For years, scientists around the world have bandied about the revolutionary idea that future humans could zip across the universe using wormholes as high-speed portals enabling faster-than-light travel to explore space, enter other universes, and witness the past and future.

Wormholes enable travel between its two openings. One end of the wormhole stays home while the other is carted away at sub-light velocities to the destination, connecting the two locations through a tunnel in warped space-time. A person enters the wormhole, and depending on the connection, exits to a remote destination in space, another time in the past or future, or into a parallel universe.

Consensus among most scientists has been that wormholes are so destructive; people would be torn to subatomic bits if they tried such a thing. However, a new paper by University of Utah physicist Lior Burko now raises the possibility that wormholes may not annihilate all matter, and the potential for hyperspace travel could one day be realized. (cont.)

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Get ready for big things from world of nanotech

July 20 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Arthur C. Clarke once said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is virtually indistinguishable from magic.” Enter mankind’s newest plunge into the future – nanotechnology.

One day soon, a small Star Trek-like replicator called a “nanofactory” will sit on your kitchen counter and let you order up any product you want – plasma TV, clothes, an appliance, or whatever your dreams desire – at little or no cost.

This wild technology sounds like science fiction, but its not. According to AI entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil and nanotech author Eric Drexler, this nanofactory will arrive by the 3rd decade of this century – 2020-2030.

Here’s how nanotech replicators would work: microscopic-size machines collect raw atoms from supplied chemicals, or from something as inexpensive as seawater, and enable those atoms to grow or “morph” into the final product: a sweater, refrigerator, health medicine, or even a duplicate nanofactory.

Key technologies of the past half-century – transistors, semiconductors, and genetic engineering – all focused on reducing size, materials and costs, while increasing power and efficiency. We now stand poised to continue this trend into a revolution that offers the potential to rebuild the entire physical world – our bodies and brains included – one atom at a time.

The National Institutes of Health states that someday implanted nanotech materials will actually become part of the body – able to search out and destroy cancer cells before they develop into a tumor, or precisely direct drugs to heal damaged tissues – and when no longer needed, dissolve and be absorbed or excreted. (cont.)

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Pros and Cons of Life Extension

July 22 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

Opinion by Dick Pelletier

Some of you have heard me talk about prospects for extreme life extension – “To live in a healthy body continuously until I choose to die; to not be killed by disease or aging.”

I believe that science and technology will make extreme life extension possible for most of us alive today. The prime requisite is to maintain good health, keep a positive attitude towards the future, and root for science and technology breakthroughs in the coming decades.

We will soon experience overwhelming advances in disease prevention and age reversal through gene therapies and nanotech breakthroughs. Over the coming years, we will slowly grow into a body fashioned from “designer genes” that can never age or get sick.

Overpopulation: Prospects for this beautiful future are not without controversy. Some argue that humans living longer will cause overpopulation problems, such as expanding poverty and damaging the environment. However, they fail to realize that technology – spurred on by commerce (filling needs) – will provide solutions through improved agriculture, easier access to food and better use of space resources.

Poor health: Some assume that people will continue to exhibit signs of aging and be decrepit into their hundreds citing people who are kept alive for years in terrible health, sometimes beyond the point at which they wish to live. Merely extending life without improving health is a bad idea. This is why today’s medical world focuses, not just on preventing death, but on alleviating the affects of aging by curing diseases. Discoveries will soon develop for the reversal of aging, so that elderly people might one day choose to revert to the mind and body of a healthy 20-something. (cont.)

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New memory tech will change how we think & learn

July 21 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

If there was a pill that could immediately improve your memory, enabling you to recall any selected event in your past with sharp detail, would you take it? How about a pill that would erase an unwanted memory, like a traumatic childhood event that still bothers you in adult life?

And even more radical, would you like to download knowledge directly into your brain enabling you to immediately speak and understand a new language, or instantly learn any new subject matter, without suffering through the lengthy process of learning from scratch?

Memory-management drugs that address the first two questions are being developed now and should be available in about five years, according to Memory Pharmaceuticals, www.memorypharma.com, a leading New Jersey drug research firm.

Most of these memory remedies focus on boosting recall, but some address the 13 million Americans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder with drugs that will dim, or even erase, traumatic memories. Such products promise to revolutionize psychotherapy. Instead of trying to overcome a past trauma, patients will soon be able to simply erase all memories of the event as if it had never happened – problem solved.

A more radical and futuristic technology, downloading knowledge directly into our brain, could be available in the near future, according to Peter Passaro, graduate student at Georgia Tech, in his article posted at www.betterhumans.com. Passaro suggests that mind-machine interfaces will be available by 2020, and he mentions how this might be accomplished. (cont.)

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Promises, perils and hopes of living through the 21st century

April 17 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Many forward-thinkers see a bright future ahead as we begin our 21st century trek. The following timeline takes a positive look at how the future could unfold:

Promises

2010-2019 – The biotech revolution picks up steam; cloning tissues and organs are routine healthcare procedures now and are covered by most insurance companies. Cancer, diabetes; most heart diseases now treatable; patient records include complete personal genomes available at around $100. Humanoid robots form 10% of world population. “Big-Brother” surveillance prevents crimes.

2020-2029 – Medical ‘nanobots’ maintain health 24/7, all diseases now treatable. Star Trek-like replicators provide food, clothing, and other essentials at little cost. Driverless ‘air-cars’ whisk us about. The space elevator slashed launch fees enabling cheap vacations at orbiting hotels. A third-world nation revealed capacity to wield nano-weapons, which prompted the U.S., EU, and China to join forces and create a world-wide defense against the threat.

2030-2049 – Visionaries saw it coming: “machines would one day out-think humans”. This revolution encouraged the merger of minds and bodies with non-biological creations built with ‘immortal’ parts and powered by supercomputer intelligence. Living in these new ‘indestructible’ bodies that can shape-shift into different forms on command and never suffer an unwanted death has given everyone an exhilarating sense of comfort, security, and well-being. (cont.)

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Future of education: reading, writing; even classrooms, will all go the way of the dinosaurs

April 25 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Education   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

When was the last time you saw fast-food restaurant employees actually key prices into the register? Today, clerks behind the counter press buttons with pictures of cups, burgers, or bags of fries. They never need to read or remember cost of items.

Futurist William Crossman, author of Vivo [Voice-In/Voice-Out]: The Coming Age of Talking Computers, believes that tomorrow’s mobile and virtual reality devices, using visual displays like those in fast-food restaurants, will render reading, writing, and text obsolete in the not-to-distant future.

Crossman explains why this transformation will take place. “Before Homo sapiens ever existed, ancient proto-humans accessed information by speaking, listening, smelling, tasting, and touching. They relied on memory to store information they heard. Speaking and listening was civilization’s preferred method of communication for millions of years.

Then about 10,000 years ago an explosion of information emerged with the onset of the agricultural revolution and memory overload quickly followed. Human memories were no longer efficient and reliable enough to store and share the huge volume of new ideas. To overcome this problem, our forbearers developed a remarkable technology that has lasted for thousands of years – written language.

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Astronauts to land on speeding asteroid by late 2020s

May 28 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

A lump of rock more than 40 meters in diameter speeding through space at 28,000 mph, once considered the most dangerous object in the universe, is about to become the site for humanity’s next “giant leap for mankind.”

NASA engineers have selected asteroid 2000SG344 – which in 2000 was given a significant chance of slamming into Earth with the explosive power of 750 Hiroshimas – as the perfect space object to study. The operation would take place before the 2030 Mars journey, a speculative trip bandied about ever since the first President Bush mentioned in 1989 that America should send men to the red planet.

The asteroid mission represents a crucial step for America’s space program. A report to be published next month in the journal Acta Astronautica describes plans to use the soon-to-be-developed Orion space ship for a three-to-six month round-trip to the asteroid, with two explorers spending up to two weeks on the rock’s surface.

As well as providing experience for longer Mars trips, samples taken from the rock could help scientists convert sub-surface ice into drinking water and breathable oxygen, understand more about the birth of the solar system, and how best to defend Earth against dangerous asteroid collisions. (cont.)

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Nanotech breakthroughs promise better life ahead

June 02 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

From assembling cells one-by-one into artificial tissues to creating micro-robots that swim through arteries and digestive systems, the magic of nanotech has finally arrived. A major theme of today’s nano-science focuses on strengthening human biology. In fact, of the eight technology advances listed below, seven involve systems that improve health:

1. Nanochips arrange cells to create artificial tissues. Harvard professor Robert Westervelt’s nanochips can move cells around to form new artificial tissues, which could be used to test efficacy of various drugs. This system could be in use by 2010.

2. Nanowires simulate artificial synapses. Harvard researcher Charles Lieber and his team linked silicon nanowires with axons and dendrites of live mammalian neurons, creating artificial synapses between the two. This technology paves the way for powerful neural prosthetics, and opens the door for hybrid nanoelectronic and biological information processing. Animal trials are already underway.

3. Neural data cable connects brains with computers. University of Pennsylvania researcher Doug Smith created a cable made from stretched nerve cells that can connect machines to the human nervous system, which could enable thought control over appliances by as early as 2012.

4. Nanoparticles destroy tumors. Burnham Institute’s Dr. Erkki Ruoslahti, in a joint effort with UC Santa Barbara, fashioned nanoparticles that seek out and kill cancer cells by cutting off their oxygen and nutrient supply. These nano-wonders can also deliver drugs to a specific area without affecting healthy cells. Human trials expected soon.

5. Micro-robots swim like bacterium through arteries. James Friend, Senior Lecturer at Australia’s Monash University and his team believe that by 2009 they can produce micro-robots that can swim through human arteries and digestive systems. These ‘bots will transmit images and deliver microscopic payloads to parts of the body that are beyond the reach of existing technologies. (cont.)

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