Tag Archives | Future

British Astronomers Warn World May End This Century

3170001703_118ba4869dTop U.K. astronomers give civilization only a 50 percent chance of surviving to 2100, reports Scottish STV. To voice the obvious questions: How can anyone calculate the date of the apocalypse, really? And, what does the end of the world mean for the Royal Family?

The end of the world is nigh. That’s what top astronomers will claim during a debate to end the 2011 Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Lord Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, believes civilisation has only a 50 per cent chance of surviving to 2100 without suffering a man-made catastrophe. And the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Professor John Brown, has an equally bleak outlook, fearing a random event from outer space is the most likely cause of our demise.

Despite having widely differing views, these two titans of astronomy between them offer global warming, over-population, terrorism, an asteroid falling to earth and a solar blast as potential reasons to panic.

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Ten Years From Now, Facebook Will Be Your Bank

bankoffacebook-erica_glasier“Why is its important to have a Facebook profile? They are going to start using that to determine what your credit worthiness is.”

The tin-foil-hatted nuts at BusinessWeek explain how and why Facebook will become the largest bank in the United States. (Perhaps most disturbing is the thought of a universal currency called ‘the zuckerberg’.)

Becoming a financial powerhouse would help Facebook avoid the fate of many once-popular networks. AOL, Friendster, Second Life, and MySpace all dreamed of growing forever, too. To survive, Facebook must become more than glorified e-mail. Sharing photos and gossip with friends might make Facebook hard to leave. But upload your checking account and Facebook may just be forever.

Nongamers may have missed Facebook’s clever foray into the world of “virtual currency,” where Facebook Credits cost 10 cents each and can be exchanged for game points or cartoony gifts. Those dimes are adding up—the U.S. market for virtual goods will reach $2.1 billion in 2011.

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Will Nanotechnology Save Us From Drug-Resistant Bacteria?

staphThe future: injecting tiny nanoparticles into our bodies to fight the superbugs against which our immune systems are powerless. How could that ever go wrong? Via Technology Review:

Researchers at IBM are designing nanoparticles that kill bacteria by poking holes in them. The scientists hope that the microbes are less likely to develop resistance to this type of drug, which means it could be used to combat the emerging problem of antibiotic resistance.

IBM’s labs aren’t equipped for biological tests, so the researchers collaborated with Yi Yan Yang at the Singapore Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology to test the nanoparticles. They found that the nanoparticles could burst open and kill gram-positive bacteria, a large class of microbes that includes drug-resistant staph. The nanoparticles also killed fungi.

The IBM researchers believe the drug could be injected intravenously to treat people with life-threatening infections. Or it could be made into a gel that could be applied to wounds to treat or prevent infection.

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Losing The War Against Drug-Resistant Superbugs

NEWS-US-ANTIBIOTICSWe’ve all heard warnings that overuse of antibiotics would breed drug-resistant superbugs, but the day of reckoning seems to be approaching faster than anyone anticipated, and science is at a loss for what to do. The pharmaceutical industry is proving to be little help, having abandoned the field of medicines that cure things for the golden revenue flow of drugs that individuals consume chronically until death (e.g. antidepressants and cholesterol-controlling medicine). Are we headed for a future of human helplessness against bacterial plagues, as in the Middle Ages? Via News Daily:

Welcome to a world where the drugs don’t work. For decades scientists have managed to develop new medicines to stay at least one step ahead of an ever-mutating enemy.

Now, though, we may be running out of road. MRSA alone is estimated to kill around 19,000 people every year in the United States — far more than HIV and AIDS — and a similar number in Europe.

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Plasticize Me: The Ethics Of What To Do With The Dead

manseau-575Will recent advances in human tissue preservation change the way we think about bodies, death, God…and China?

Guernica discusses how “plasticization” and other advances create new questions regarding how we may make use of corpses. Cadavers are in-demand like never before, for all sorts of purposes, including macabre exhibitions:

Von Hagens is a tireless promoter of the ethical difference between his exhibits and the others. “All the copycat exhibitions are from China,” he told the New York Times. “And they’re all using unclaimed bodies.”

Both “Bodies…The Exhibition” and “Body Worlds” make use of a new technology von Hagens calls “Plastination,” by which all water is removed from human tissues and replaced with soft silicone polymers. A macabre detail included in the story von Hagens tells of the development of this process hints at the ethical questions that were to come: He first thought of creating perfectly preserved cross-sections of human bodies when he was at a sandwich shop one day watching a butcher run a ham through an electric slicer.

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Meet The Germinoid DK, A Frighteningly-Human Android

Built in (obviously) Japan by Hiroshi Ishiguro, the Geminoid DK is an ultra-realistic automaton designed to perfectly resemble a Danish university professor named Henrik Scharfe. Chillingly, the Geminoid is outfitted with a goatee, allowing it to blend unnoticed into the general male population should it escape from its handlers. Even more chillingly, with the fake flesh removed it's a dead ringer for the T-800 from the Terminator movies.
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Humanity 3.0: How Will We Evolve Next?

1561781181_be42e3aaacWriting in SEED Magazine, Mark Changizi expounds on his vision of human advancement in the centuries to come. He argues that the greatest progress will not come through changing our brains and bodies via genetic engineering or cyborg-like enhancement, but by developing technology that better accommodates the magnificently-designed brains and bodies that evolution has already given us:

Where are we humans going, as a species? If science fiction is any guide, we will genetically evolve like in X-Men, become genetically engineered as in Gattaca, or become cybernetically enhanced like General Grievous in Star Wars. All of these may well be part of the story of our future, but I’m not holding my breath.

There is, however, another avenue for human evolution, one mostly unappreciated in both science and fiction. It is this unheralded mechanism that will usher in the next stage of human, giving future people exquisite powers we do not currently possess, powers worthy of natural selection itself.

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Building An Empathetic Global Civilization

In this RSA Animate, Jeremy Rifkin examines our innate capacity for empathy, one of the defining traits of the human race (though we share it with a few other species). Rifkin argues that throughout history humans have progressively expanded their "spheres of empathy", and that our survival as a species depends on expanding empathy further, rather than retreating into tribalism. Will our empathic impulses become more globalized, along with everything else? Or do the conditions of today breed a narrow self-interest which could destroy us?
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Insects Will Be Our Meat In The Future

According to the Wall Street Journal's Marcel Dicke and Arnold Van Huis, insects are nutritious and easy to raise without harming the environment. They also have a nice nutty taste...
At the London restaurant Archipelago, diners can order the $11 Baby Bee Brulee: a creamy custard topped with a crunchy little bee. In New York, the Mexican restaurant Toloache offers $11 chapulines tacos: two tacos stuffed with Oaxacan-style dried grasshoppers. Could beetles, dragonfly larvae and water bug caviar be the meat of the future...
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