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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Telepresence, avatars enrich our lives in near future

May 21 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 11 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Imagine a future where there is no clear distinction between real and simulated events. Welcome to the world of virtual reality. In contrast to today’s crude videoconferencing methods, tomorrow’s revolutionary “telepresence” systems expected by 2015 or before, will look and sound like you are actually together in real reality. You’ll establish eye contact, look around each other, and otherwise have the sense of being together.

Tomorrow’s Internet will power this new system. Cameras will transmit live two-way pictures over a terabyte-speed network similar to today’s Internet2. With sensors embedded in clothing to track movement, parties at both ends can project themselves into a virtual reality 3-D simulation of the event – everyone interacts with everyone with “telepresence.”

“This new system marks the beginning of a revolution expected to take us by storm in the next decade,” says Dr. Pierre Boulanger, University of Alberta VR researcher. People separated by distance can be together in this virtual world, to enjoy a living room chat, share meals at the dinner table, or cozy up even more intimately. Everyone feels hand shakes, hugs and kisses as if they were real.

In addition, say goodbye to confusing controls for home entertainment systems and computers. Lifelike 3D avatars (virtual assistants) which speak perfect “human” will become our primary interface with all our technologies.

These amazing screen images will do just about everything for us. They will answer questions; negotiate Internet transactions; make it easy for us to operate computers and home entertainment systems; and maintain household temperature, lighting and security. These cute creatures, resembling favorite celebrities or loved ones, will appear on our TV, cell phone screen, and car radio display. Later, advances in holography will enable avatars to jump off the screen and follow us around the house. (cont.)

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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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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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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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Scientists love time-travel fantasy too; for real

July 31 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Movies like Time Machine, Back to the Future, Terminator, and “One Moment in Time”: bring out the little child inside us. We love to fantasize about going back in time to see what might have been, or to alter some predicament in our life. Scientists get excited over this fantasy too – some even believe we can turn this fictional genre into reality.

Einstein stated that people traveling at near light speeds would age more slowly than those remaining stationary. Inhabitants of a fast-moving spaceship would experience forward time travel. And if traveling faster than light, they would go backwards in time.

Atomic clocks flown in space proved Einstein correct, and many top physicists now express views that time travel could someday become possible.

Cal-Tech’s Kip Thorne was the first to publish a scientific paper with the words “time machine” in the title. Thorne worried that reporters might ballyhoo the article causing colleagues to ignore it – but instead, his work brought other scientists out in the open.

World famous physicist Stephen Hawking, Cosmologist Igor Novikov, and others began publicly debating the pros and cons of time travel.

Thorne focused on the actual time machine. He suggests that if we create a wormhole, accelerate one end to nearly the speed of light and bring it back, we would have a time machine. We could enter the machine and travel to both past and future.

But a recent Better Humans article suggests our frail bodies could not stand up to wormhole pressures. Solution: upload our mind and travel as information; then reassemble on arrival using nanotechnology.

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Longer, more exciting life ahead for everyone

August 12 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Other   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

We often think nostalgically of our past as the “good old days,” but projected scientific and technological breakthroughs suggest the greatest and most exciting times are actually yet to come. Today, breakthroughs rush at us with amazing speeds and the golden ages of biotech, 2010-2020, and nanotech, 2020-2035, promise huge advances in health, entertainment and wealth.

Revolutionary biologist Leroy Hood predicts that in the next decade, we will understand individual genetic predispositions for most sicknesses, and develop powerful tools for preventing them. “We’ll move from a mode of medicine that’s largely reactive to one that’s predictive and preventive,” he says.

Experts believe that by 2025, nanobots swarming through our bodies will stave off most sicknesses and zap viruses before we even start to sniffle. By 2030, all diseases, including aging, will be manageable. And as we gain greater health and energy, we will become more actively involved with entertainment technologies.

Microsoft’s Bill Gates says TVs and computers are finally converging into a single media. By 2015, nearly every movie, TV drama and sit-com ever produced will be available from the Internet to your home, and voice-activation will make selecting programs as simple as talking to your screen.

Games will become more entertaining too with expected speeds of over 10,000 GHz. But no matter how far technology advances, certain aspects of gaming will remain constant. Marksmanship, speed thrills, and strategies will improve, but plots and characters of today’s role players, along with elements that charm the heart will remain pretty much the same as today.

Unlike today’s games that stimulate only sight, hearing, and touch, 2015 games will add taste and smell, creating more realism. As TVs continue to advance, flat screens will morph into holographic displays with characters seeming to hop into the room.

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Nanotech wonders hyped at Wash. DC conference

September 01 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

At the First Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology held in Washington DC, researchers discussed the possibilities expected of this new wonder science, including glittering visions of abundance and long, healthy life spans.

Within 20 years, a small Star Trek-like replicator called a “nanofactory” could sit on your kitchen counter and let you order up any product you want – food, clothing, appliances, or whatever your dreams desire – at little or no cost.

Nanofactories work by collecting atoms from something as inexpensive as dirt or seawater, and using software downloaded from the Internet, directs those atoms to “grow” into the final product. A nanofactory can even “grow” another nanofactory.

This wild technology sounds like science fiction, but its not. Foresight Institute sociologist Bryan Bruns said nanotech will provide solutions for some 2.7 billion people now living on less than $2 per day, and eliminate poverty worldwide.

Bruns envisions a “2025 Whole Earth Catalog” which would offer economic water filtration systems that purify 100,000 gallons of water a day; inexpensive solar roofing panels that come in rolls like Saran Wrap; powerful inexpensive computers that fit inside eyeglass frames; and suitcase-size nanoclinics with a full range of diagnostics and treatments.

“Turn trash into treasure”, could become the slogan of the 2020s. Nanorefineries will break down unwanted consumer items, sewage sludge, and other waste materials, and re-build them into food, clothing, or household items.

Institute for Molecular Manufacturing’s Robert Freitas added, “not only will nanotech provide us with a lot of cool stuff and eliminate global poverty; it will also help us live a really long time”. Freitas predicted by 2015, nanoproducts will diagnose illnesses and destroy cancer cells – and by mid-2020s, tiny cell-repair mechanisms will roam through our bodies keeping us strong, youthful, and forever healthy.

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Future of Shopping - RFID gets under your skin

April 13 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Information   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

You enter the supermarket, grab an electronic shopping cart that recognizes you from your touch, and begin tossing items into pre-opened bags. The monitor on your “smart cart” not only displays each item, its price, and total amount spent; but also subtracts items returned to the shelf. Hold an item in your hand briefly and its description appears on the monitor.

When finished shopping, simply tap a “chipped” finger indicating which credit or debit card to use, or tap thumb for cash pay, which directs you to an automated cash machine – then out the door. On exit, select a security option to deactivate or encrypt all product chips, preventing evildoers from tracking you or your merchandise.

Though this futuristic scenario may still be a few years away, Albertson’s Chicago and Dallas area stores are experimenting with “Shop ‘n Scan”, a wireless scanner shoppers use to ring up groceries as they take them off the shelf. Eventually, Albertson’s wants to integrate this with other services that could one day become the precursor to a scenario like the one described above.

Milwaukee futurist David Zach envisions a bright future for RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification). “Chipped” tickets to local Miller Park sporting events, for example, allows management to recognize customers. Move to a more expensive seat during the game, and the system debits your account for the higher priced seat. (cont.)

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Innovation will make living out of this world a reality

July 17 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Space   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

The immense popularity of Star Trek suggests that “to boldly go where no man has gone before” could become humanity’s mandate for the future.

Satellite Industry Association President Richard Dalbello sees the space industry as the jewel of our economy. It drives innovation, creates jobs, and positions us to begin mankind’s greatest dream – to explore other worlds.

But many believe our progress is too slow. Past explorations produced huge benefits much faster. 25 years after the Lewis & Clark exploration, wagons rolled west to Oregon and clipper ships landed pioneers in California. 25 years after the Wright Brothers, citizens could fly around the country. By contrast, landing on the moon – our “giant step for mankind” – has only produced 40 to 50+ years of earth orbits and a few unmanned flights.

Space enthusiasts say this slow progress shows we are misdirected. They would like to see faster development of moon and Mars settlements and strong incentives created for private businesses to design and build space colonies and other facilities in space.

Space flights are expensive today, but once travel to and from orbit become cheap; profit-driven entrepreneurs will head for the high frontier to build hotels, permanent housing, and entertainment and sports facilities.

Exploring space will also push genetic research. Better Humans author Simon Smith claims environments such as Mars extreme cold temperatures and toxic atmosphere will require biological changes. Sending humans into space without genetic modification would be impractical. (cont.)

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