Tag Archives | Future

The Evils Of A World Filled With Touchscreens

111103_TECH_many_ipadsAll signs point to our heading towards a future in which we will exist surrounded by software-enabled touchscreens. Why this could be a grave mistake, via Slate:

What touchscreens lack is something called affordance — an object’s built-in ability to tell you how it works. A doorknob affords turning. The button on a car stereo affords pushing. A touchscreen affords nothing. It relies on software for any affordance, which in turn relies on total immersion for the user.

What we want, apparently, is to surround ourselves with touchscreens of varying size—tiny ones in our pockets, medium-size models for our laps and dashboards, and massive versions for our walls. We want tomorrow’s vintage shops to be lined with identical, blank, anonymous slabs. We want things to be vessels for software, and nothing more. Immersion is a fantastic quality while flicking virtual birds at digital pigs in your smartphone. Immersion at 80 mph is less desirable.

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Microsoft Shows What The Future Will Look Like

Microsoft has released this "positive" (hear the cheery music?) thought-exercise short film titled "Productivity Future Video" which shows "how future technology will help people make better use of their time, focus their attention, and strengthen relationships while getting things done at work, home, and on the go." It's an affluent, depressing world in which every surface has been turned into a screen with notifications telling you what do or think, interpersonal relations have completely atrophied, and emotions and sensation are muted as one is shuttled between airports, hotels, and other highly-planned spaces. Just wait until everything around you, the walls and the floor the table, is a Microsoft product with malfunctioning software.
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How To Protect The Future From Our Nuclear Waste?

dangerPasta&Vinegar on a fascinating 10,000-year design conundrum: how to house our radioactive waste in such a way that the next 400 generations will understand the danger, and not try to tamper or remove the markers. One would assume that over that period, most of our civilization, language, symbols, and physical structures as we know them will cease to exist:

“Permanent Markers Implementation Plan” is a project initiated in 2004 by the U.S. Department of Energy in order to provide a permanent record which identifies the location of nuclear waste repository and its dangers.

This report described the task handled by one of the expert group made of an anthropologist, an astronomer, an archaeologist, an environmental designer, a linguist, and a materials scientist. The brief for them was basic:

“The site must be marked. Aside from the legal requirement, the site will be indelibly imprinted by the human activity associated with waste disposal.

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Newspapers To Disappear By 2040?

ALeqM5iAPPYRjlbQRCvzYsPh4kFxa2Ro4wTaking, for example, the New York Times’ inability or unwillingness to properly cover the Occupy Wall Street protests, maybe this news isn’t all that bad. AFP reports:

Newspapers will disappear and be replaced by digital versions by 2040, the UN intellectual property agency’s chief said in an interview published on Monday.

Francis Gurry, who heads the World Intellectual Property Organisation told the daily La Tribune de Geneve that “in a few years, there will no longer be printed newspapers as we know it today.”

“It’s an evolution. There’s no good or bad about it. There are studies showing that they will disappear by 2040. In the United States, it will end in 2017,” he said.

Gurry noted that in the United States there are already more digital copies sold than paper copies of newspapers. In cities, there are also fewer bookshops.

A key problem is the revenue system.

“How can editors find revenues to pay those who write these articles?” asked Gurry, noting that “the copyright system must be safeguarded as a mechanism to pay these writers.”

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After Earth: Where Will Humanity Go?

5efc3c27f081463e8c9e31fd93d45164If and when Earth is no longer able to sustain human life, where should we go? NASA says that a colony could be dug several feet below the surface of our moon (with a cover to protect residents from high-energy cosmic radiation, which can damage our DNA and lead to cancer).

Or we could head for the resource-rich moons of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Mars is very Earth-like, with enough carbon in its soil to grow plants, and daytime temperatures that reach 70°F. And that’s only the start of our options. Popular Science explores:

Earth won’t always be fit for occupation. We know that in two billion years or so, an expanding sun will boil away our oceans, leaving our home in the universe uninhabitable—unless, that is, we haven’t already been wiped out by the Andromeda galaxy, which is on a multibillion-year collision course with our Milky Way. Moreover, at least a third of the thousand mile-wide asteroids that hurtle across our orbital path will eventually crash into us, at a rate of about one every 300,000 years.

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UK Scientists Warn Of Future ‘Planet Of The Apes’ Scenario

planet-of-the-apesCould ongoing experiments involving the mixing of human and non-human DNA produce monstrous, over-intelligent hybrids down the road? In the U.S., human cells are already being implanted in mouse embryos, so we’ll likely be facing the rats of NIMH, rather than talking chimps who smoke pipes. The Telegraph reports:

Action is needed now, according to a group of eminent experts. Their report calls for a new rules to supervise sensitive research that involves humanizing animals.

“The fear is that if you start putting very large numbers of human brain cells into the brains of primates suddenly you might transform the primate into something that has some of the capacities that we regard as distinctively human..speech, or other ways of being able to manipulate or relate to us.”

Currently research involving great apes, such as chimpanzees, is outlawed in the UK. But it continues in many other countries including the US, and British scientists are permitted to experiment on monkeys.

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Replicant Cities: Identical Places On Different Continents

Imagine visiting a foreign continent and knowing every street, every tree like the back of your hand.25258635 Duplicate copies of unique, gorgeous cities seems like both the inverse and logical continuation of the 1950s idea of identical, planned tract-home suburbs. BLDG BLOG writes:

First there was the replica of Lyons, France, being built in Dubai; it would be a replicant city “of about 700 acres, roughly the size of the Latin Quarter of Paris,” and it would “contain squares, restaurants, cafes and museums.”

Now, though, we learn that a Chinese firm has been “secretly” copying an entire UNESCO-listed village in Austria, called Hallstatt. Residents of the original town are “scandalized,” Der Spiegel reports, by these “plans to replicate the village—including its famous lake—in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.”

After all, in addition to the uncanny experience of seeing your buildings, streets, sidewalks, and even trees repeated on the other side of the world, “creating an exact duplicate of a city may not be legal, according to Hans-Jörg Kaiser from Icomos Austria, the national board for monument preservation under UNESCO.

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Human Breast Milk Produced By Chinese GMO Cows

Impressive, but I'm holding out for genetically engineered cows that produce milkshakes. Good writes:
These cows were bred by inserting human genes into cloned cow embryos which were then implanted into surrogate cows. The plan is to have this milk in supermarkets within three years. China is well ahead of the Western world in terms of its comfort with genetically modified food. But let's think about this. Could consumers get past the Freudian weirdness of drinking breast milk in the name of nutrition?
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Aerotropolis: Will The Cities Of The Future Be Giant Airports?

aerotropolis3dThe Utopianist discusses one (slightly hellish) idea of what the city of the future may look like — the ‘aerotropolis’, in which the airport is at the city’s geographic and economic core, and daily life increasingly resembles being inside an endlessly sprawling airport:

It’s a city that’s built around an airport, the bigger the better, with factories and/or traders, both dependent on air freight, close by, followed by a ring of malls and hotels, followed by a ring of residential neighborhoods. The airport isn’t an annoyance, located as far out of the way as possible, but the city’s heart, its raison d’être.

While the vision of a city based around an airport may seem novel, there are such aerotropolises already in existence, like Ecuador’s capital, Quito. We already have a few cities in the United States that roughly adhere to this model — Memphis, our nation’s major FedEx hub, and Seattle, the home of Boeing.

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Guide To The End Of The World, From 5000 B.C. Into The Future

Pick A Year handily compiles, in timeline form, all end of days prognostications of note, for your doom-and-gloom needs:

The END has been with us for a very long, time and extends well into the future. Need I say that prophesy has, so far, failed? And that this is true as much for ‘scientific’ prophesy (see 1962, 1975, 1976, 1989, 1992, 2002, 2005, 2008) as for the cultish kind?

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