An Infinite Regression

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Reddit discusses new advances in technology, both past and present.

Reddit user ‘michaelti‘ posed the question in an AskReddit thread simply titled “What are your legitimate, realistic predictions for the 2020’s?”. His suggestions included:

  • ~60% of new cars will be electric
  • Holograms begin to appear in Times Square
  • All phones are smartphones
  • More tablet computers and less desktops
  • First private flights into space
  • NFC catches on and more people pay with their phones
  • Mac OS X 10.15 “Catfish”
  • 3D with glasses won’t catch on
  • No 9th generation consoles yet (still on PS4)
  • Global life expactancy begins to accelerate
  • Stock market recovery from 2015 crash

User ‘ifeelazy‘ posted a link to a website called FutureTimeline.net which contained many predictions of the future.  This is what they have for 2020:

  • Generation X is reshaping global politics
  • Internet use reaches 5 billion worldwide
  • The 5G standard is released
  • Texting by thinking
  • Complex organ replacements grown from stem cells
  • Progress with longevity extension
  • Ultra High Definition Television (4320p) is available in domestic homes
  • Holographic TV is going mainstream
  • Africa and the Middle East are linked by a trans-continental bridge
  • Hong Kong’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) has been significantly expanded
  • Completion of the Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link
  • The UK has expanded its offshore grid connections
  • Smart meters in every UK home
  • Public smoking is banned across every US state
  • Glacier National Park and other regions are becoming ice-free
  • BepiColombo arrives in orbit around Mercury
  • Video games with truly lifelike CGI

However user ‘pizzlewizzle‘ disagreed; stating that 2020 is only a mere 7 1/2 years from now and most of the items on that list were idealistic. Many of the users were quick to rebut with recent leaps in technology that is really quiet eye opening when you think about it.

CelebEX sums up many of the technological advances in the past 8 years:

“Most mobile phone users now have a computer in their pocket capable of doing pretty much anything you can desire, and if it cant do it now, you can download via the airwaves in under 30 seconds, and app which CAN.

Major steps forward in electric powered cars… ok, they are not quite there yet, but we have taken HUGE steps forward, and within another 8 years, theoretically, we will have fast, powerful, gas/petrol-less cars, capable of keeping up with the best of the rest.

Holographic technology takes a huge step forward

Biggest and most advanced exploration of Mars begins.

The first big commercial wave of the tablet era begins.

Skype.

Social Networking.

CD, DVD, and even downloading media files is rendered obsolete, by the ability to stream movies straight to my TV, music straight to my laptop, and store none of it myself.

Cloud storage takes a significant leap forward

I can stand infront of my games console and control the lot by waving my hands or talking to it. <– in reality, its poor atm, but its a stepping stone.

….Ok…so these are just a few things, and a lot of it isnt exactly revolutionary… a lot of what has happened in the last 8-10 years have either been great advances in things that already exists, or its a decade that has produced the first little steps in what will be able to be significantly built on, especially within the next decade…

Im not saying breakthroughs like flying cars or hover boards (how cool!) are around the corner, but some serious advances that we will more than likely just take for granted will come.”

As well as user ‘Henkkaaaaa‘:

2000-2009:

  • Personal computers broke the 1GHz barrier (2000)
  • Wikipedia is launched (2001)
  • We had our first space tourist (2001)
  • 911 happens (2001)
  • Euro enters circulation (2002)
  • Myspace is launched (2003)
  • Web 2.0 (2004)
  • Facebook is launched (2004)
  • First one gigabyte SD card (2004)
  • YouTube is launched (2005)
  • USB flash drives replace floppy disks (2005)
  • Twitter is launched (2006)
  • Pluto becomes a “dwarf planet” (2006)
  • Apple debuts the iPhone (2007)
  • Amazon releases Kindle (2007)
  • Google street view is launched (2007)
  • Major advances in CGI (2008)
  • Water is discovered in Moon (2009)

Source

Another notable prediction was made by ‘jarretwold‘ who made a neat list; some serious, some fun:

The Good

  • Full genome sequencing becomes as cheap as an STD test. Your medical treatment becomes preventative based on statistical likelihood of illness.
  • Google’s car self-driving efforts pay off, as the first mixed mode (drive yourself or have it drive you) vehicles roll off of the assembly line.
  • Rapid research in GM crops begins to address climate change.
  • The first FDA licensed 3D printers arrive in medicine. Used to print prescription medication.
  • Modest method patent reform happens
  • Progressive states enact legislation directing judges issue treatment first before punishment for non-violent drug offenses.
  • The widening political divide snuffs itself out, and a push back toward moderate politics begins.
  • First asteroid mining mission lifts off.
  • Multinational, earth orbit, debris field cleanup mission begins.
  • Batteries are finally improved. You don’t have to charge your cell phone battery for days at a time.
  • Further dramatic advances in medical imaging/analysis pinpoint targeted treatment and cause of mental disorders.
  • Medical advances provide even greater life expectancy.
  • Video games are even MORE awesome than they already are.
  • Half-life 3 gets a release date.

The Bad

  • Food scarcity rises dramatically, affecting first world countries for the first time.
  • The first GM crop mishap occurs, becomes an invasive species
  • The middle class ceases to exist
  • A distinct and widening age gap begins to appear between the rich and poor.
  • Longer lives lead to compound increase in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • All other patent reform methods fail.
  • US/China fight their first proxy war.
  • root zone fragmentation occurs due to legal and moral disagreements between countries
  • People begin to reminisce about dubstep.

The Ugly

  • Surveillance becomes ubiquitous.
  • US Courts start enforcing criminal penalties for downloading pirated anything. New felony and misdemeanors added to state law over “lost sale doctrine”
  • Litigation is automated as courts start accepting online filing.
  • Significant 1 in 1000 years, natural disaster event occurs. Likely massive earthquake/tsunami on the west coast.
  • Climate change accelerates. We can do next to nothing with present technology.
  • European Union fails. Eliminates gains from recovery after The Great Recession.
  • Global pandemic fails to occur, but causes widespread localized death in China.
  • QWOP becomes a widely loved, retro game.

It’s really interesting to think about how far we’ve come technologically and in such a short amount of time. I certainly hope that some of the things on this list come up by the time 2020 comes around, guess we’ll just wait and see.


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Week 4 – Cyberspace

Coined by Will Gibson in 1982, the word ‘Cyberspace’ was used in his novel Burning Chrome to describe a way in which users could physically immerse themselves in an electronic medium. The idea of cyberspace has been one of the main driving points behind the science fiction genre. A great example of this is The Matrix. However Gibson himself has said that cyberspace is is actually “evocative and meaningless” and was more of a buzzword than anything else. However the term has changed since the 80’s and now cyberspace is more actively used as a way of describing the global network of information infrastructure. It has more or less become a more conventional way of describing any activity that takes place in or is associated to the internet and its culture. Since it’s inception in the early 80’s, cyberspace has gone from a buzzword with next to no actual meaning to being an all-encompassing, collective definition for anything that occurs on the internet.

Source

 (Thill, 2009, March 19, 1948: William Gibson, Father of Cyberspace, Wired.)


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Week 3; A Virtual Library in a Virtual World

I want to diverge a little from the topic today and really focus on something caught my eye in the article  ‘Mind Control & the Internet’ by Sue Halpern. The thing that really got my attention, and I’ll quote straight from the text:

“You could plug into a computer’s memory banks almost as easily as you put on your shoes. Suddenly, your mind would be full of all the information stored in the computer. You could instantly make yourself an expert in anything from Spanish literature to particle physics…. With biochips to hold the data, all the information in the MIT and Harvard libraries might be stuffed into a volume no greater than that of a sandwich. All of Shakespeare in a BB-sized module…. You may see devices like this before this century ends”  (Halpern, 2011)

Let me first say, I know this kind of tech is decades away from fruition and even longer before it becomes commercially accessible, but I am excited for this. It probably wont happen in my lifetime though, or if it does I’ll be old and senile.

The thought of being able to connect your consciousness into the internet sounds like something straight out of a sci-fi movie (The Matrix anybody?) but I would welcome this tech with open arms. It would essentially eliminate the need for any formal education; as you could simply just download any knowledge you need. This would also essentially get rid of the problem of student debt and the social class based system that our education system encourages.

However, knowing humanity’s track record of ruining nice things, it would only be a matter of time until someone uses this technology, for lack of a better word, for evil. The amount of ethical issues surrounding introducing this technology are plentiful, more than I’d like to cover in this post.

I’ll just say that I’d love to see this tech come to life, but it no doubt will be shot down by the ethically concerned.


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Internet Relay Chat (or IRC)

IRC was at, one point, one of that largest and most used ‘parts’ of the internet, mainly during the 90’s. Simply defined, IRC is  chatroom; a very primitive one at that. Basically you would type messages and send them into the main chatroom, or ‘channel’, and communicate with others.

In the early days of IRC you would have to download an IRC client in order to access an IRC channel. However now days, at least in Google Chrome, the browser has a client built into it making a third party client largely redundant. Anybody with access to the internet could hop onto one of these IRC channels and talk to anyone of the people connected to it. This allowed people from across the globe to communicate with one another without ever actually meeting.

Although IRC was initially invented in 1988 it never really exploded until 1991 when users were suing the IRC channels to get up-to-date information about the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. The IRC channel that was linked into the country stayed active up to a week after the television and radio broadcast networks were taken down. An archived copy of the IRC chat can be found here.

Now days IRC is not used as much anymore due to the rise of other, more user friendly, instant messaging services; most notably MSN Messenger (now known as Windows Live messenger), Yahoo Messenger and AOL Messenger. IRC now is mostly seen as a low tech way of communicating but is still widely used in some online communities.

One notable mention should be the use of IRC by hacker groups as well as the hacktivist group, Anonymous. IRC channels are widely favoured by these groups for their ability to handle large groups of people as well as giving the users the option to appear anonymously. Anonymous especially used IRC channels to organise wide spread DDOS attacks in 2010.

IRC channels lead the way for modern instant messaging programs. It could be argued that without the existence of IRC channels; MSN, Yahoo, AOL Messenger and the like would not have come to fruition. IRC allowed the sharing of information in real time to people all over the world.

 

Sources:

Internet relay chat (IRC) history 1996, viewed 6 August 2012
<http://www.livinginternet.com/r/ri_irc.htm>

Stenberg, D 2011. History of IRC (Internet relay chat), viewed 6 August 2012
<http://daniel.haxx.se/irchistory.html>

Correll, S 2010. ‘Tis the season of DDOS – wikileaks edition, viewed 6 August 2012
<http://pandalabs.pandasecurity.com/tis-the-season-of-ddos-wikileaks-editio/>


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Lecture 2 ramblings

Terribly late on this one, but I have been a bit busy (lazy) this week.

What I felt like discussing in this post is not something that was directly covered in the lecture, but more of an elaboration on what someone said in the lecture. We were talking about how different things communicate with one another (i.e. animals, humans, plants, etc) and the lecturer posed the question, do animals communicate with one another?

A girl at the back seemed confused at how animals could communicate with each other without having a language. But that raised another question, does language have to be spoken/written?

I would say, no. Sign language is a widely accepted language that consists of nothing but non-verbal gestures. Even though it is not audible or legible does not not make it a language. To me, a language is merely a way of communicating between two or more people (or parties) used a predetermined series of commands. There is only one rule to this definition; repetition. You cannot have language without repetition.

If we bring it back to the girl in the lecture, somebody mentioned to her that bees can communicate with each other non-verbally through dance. Yes, dance. Bees have a system of communicating with each other by moving in what looks like a series of dance steps.

So that really answers the question of whether animals can communicate with each other even though they do not have a verbal/written language, but how about the communication between systems in our own bodies?

Our brain sends messages to different parts of our body constantly, mostly sub-consciously, which determines how our body moves as well as other things such as pain and temperature. I am sure it is significantly more technical and scientific than that, but that is just my basic understanding of it.

I guess what I am trying to get at here is that communication is universal. It is not just something that was invented by man, but exists on many different plains of life.