Technology and the experience of what it means to be human are evolving at an exponential rate, entering the steep of an asymptotic curve. If we don't destroy ourselves first, it is likely in a few decades we may not even recognize ourselves as what we are today. Hang on, we're embarking on one helluva ride and the outcome is a real nail biter.
Two hundred million years ago, our mammal ancestors developed a new brain feature: the neocortex. This stamp-sized piece of tissue (wrapped around a brain the size of a walnut) is the key to what humanity has become. Now, futurist Ray Kurzweil suggests, we should get ready for the next big leap in brain power, as we tap into the computing power in the cloud.
The 4 billion year old story of evolution on this planet - from the slow emergence of the first organisms out of the primordial soup to the present rapid evolution of technology and beyond.
From the author:
"I cannot believe that we are at the end of this story - we are not evolution's ultimate product. There's something coming after us, and I imagine it is something wonderful. But we may never be able to comprehend it, any more than a caterpillar can comprehend turning into a butterfly."
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:
Written in 1998 and just as true today. Perhaps even more so.
The Keepod USB will allow old, discarded and potentially non-functional PCs to be revived, while allowing each user to have ownership of their own "personal computer" experience - with their chosen desktop layout, programs and data - at a fraction of the cost of providing a unique laptop, tablet or other machine to each person.
Ever ponder the miracle of life? Or perhaps wonder about the evolution of intelligence? In Shots of Awe, "Performance Philosopher" Jason Silva raves about the reality we don't pay attention to: We are so embedded with, surrounded by and dependent upon technology that it has "literally become our exoskeleton."
This provocative book introduces a brand-new view of technology. It suggests that technology as a whole is not just a jumble of wires and metal but a living, evolving organism that has its own unconscious needs and tendencies. Kelly looks out through the eyes of this global technological system to discover "what it wants." Kelly uses vivid examples from the past to trace technology's long course, and then follows a dozen trajectories of technology into the near future to project where technology is headed.
This new theory of technology offers three practical lessons: By listening to what technology wants we can better prepare ourselves and our children for the inevitable technologies to come. By adopting the principles of pro-action and engagement, we can steer technologies into their best roles. And by aligning ourselves with the long-term imperatives of this near-living system, we can capture its full gifts.
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:
"What Technology Wants" is one compelling, insightful treatise on the profound intersection of technology and evolution. For anyone who has any interest at all in this topic (i.e. YOU -- for why else would you be reading what I post), this book is truly a must-read. While reading this remarkable book, I felt it articulated a narrative I've been trying to piece together in my mind for decades.
April 30, 2014 was the day that HD, live-streaming video cameras on the International Space Station began sending a real-time feed of its view of Earth out to the Internet (click here: http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/HDEV/). On this day every human being who has access to the internet (3 billion+ at last count) could have a present-moment experience of what our planet looks like 300 miles in space. Not a static view from a photograph...not a video that was taken days, weeks, months or years ago, but Now. Always Now as the ISS orbits and weaves its way over the planet -- through days and nights (one full orbit every 90 minutes), looking into the sun, away from the sun, during every season, over every kind of landscape, seascape and cloudscape. Always an ever-changing perspective of what Earth looks like right Now.
Astronauts describe the "Overview Effect" in which their whole perspective of life, human beings, political boundaries and more shift as a result of experiencing Earth from space. It is said that the famous, "Blue Marble" photo of Earth floating in space, taken by one of the early Apollo missions, was the beginning of a new perspective of ourselves and our fragile planet. I remember hearing about how Stewart Brand, curator of The Whole Earth Catalog, insisted on plastering that image on the front cover because of what he rightfully assessed being the importance of this image.
It will indeed be interesting to see how millions of us react when we have this same real-time experience (albeit virtualized) that astronauts have. Meanwhile, I think I finally have a good reason to buy one of those big HD TVs.
“Love is the felt experience of connection to another being. An economist says ‘more for you is less for me.’ But the lover knows that more of you is more for me too. If you love somebody their happiness is your happiness. Their pain is your pain. Your sense of self expands to include other beings. This shift of consciousness is universal in everybody, 99% and 1%.” -
The High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment aboard the ISS was activated April 30, 2014. It is mounted on the External Payload Facility of the European Space Agency’s Columbus module. This experiment includes several commercial HD video cameras aimed at the earth which are enclosed in a pressurized and temperature controlled housing. Video from these cameras is transmitted back to earth and also streamed live on this channel. While the experiment is operational, views will typically sequence though the different cameras. Between camera switches, a gray and then black color slate will briefly appear. Since the ISS is in darkness during part of each orbit, the images will be dark at those times. During periods of loss of signal with the ground or when HDEV is not operating, a gray color slate or previously recorded video may be seen. Analysis of this experiment will be conducted to assess the effects of the space environment on the equipment and video quality which may help decisions about cameras for future missions. High school students helped with the design of some of the HDEV components through the High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) program. Student teams will also help operate the experiment. To learn more about the HDEV experiment, visit here: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/917.html
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:
This marks a new beginning, a new, real-time perspective of our Gaian Self that is available to everyone -- not just a few scientists and spies.
(Phys.org) —Stanford scientists have developed faster, more energy-efficient microchips based on the human brain – 9,000 times faster and using significantly less power than a typical PC. This offers greater possibilities for advances in robotics and a new way of understanding the brain. For instance, a chip as fast and efficient as the human brain could drive prosthetic limbs with the speed and complexity of our own actions.
Stanford scientists have developed a new circuit board modeled on the human brain, possibly opening up new frontiers in robotics and computing.
For all their sophistication, computers pale in comparison to the brain. The modest cortex of the mouse, for instance, operates 9,000 times faster than a personal computer simulation of its functions.
Not only is the PC slower, it takes 40,000 times more power to run, writes Kwabena Boahen, associate professor of bioengineering at Stanford, in an article for the Proceedings of the IEEE.
"All ideologies are means of control. The only thing that's real is personal experience."
"A global society is coming into being...because of the clumsy handling of the cybernetic revolution by the dominator culture. Never has the situation been more fluid...but we have to seize the opportunity."
MaidSafe is a fully decentralized platform on which application developers can build decentralized applications. The network is made up by individual users who contribute storage, computing power and bandwidth to form a world-wide autonomous system,
f you ever start to take things too seriously-- just remember that we are talking monkeys on an organic spaceship flying through the universe.
Conversations and musings from Joe's podcast with comedian Duncan Trussell, backed by the transportive music of Shpongle, touches on the possibility of psychedelics being the original source for human development, and their impact on culture - how far we've come, and what's to come next - the sheer vastness of all that is, and how reconnecting to the original source could change everything.
Across the planet, new technologies and business models are decentralizing power and placing it in the hands of communities and individuals.
"We are seeing technology-driven networks replacing bureacratically-driven hierarchies," says VC and futurist Fred Wilson, speaking on what to expect in the next ten years. View the entire 25-minute video below (it's worth it!) and then check out the 21 innovations below.
Economic theorist and author Jeremy Rifkin explains his concept of The Internet of Things. Rifkin's latest book is The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism (http://goo.gl/4estV2).
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:
Rifkin articulates nicely how large, centralized institutions, particularly those related to commerce, are being rapidly morphed into a distributed format by virtue of the internet's proliferation of interconnectedness and interdependence.
For over 40 years, the ‘Blue Marble’ images of Earth taken from space have provided a new perspective of our planet, and the sometimes life-altering experience of such views was described in Frank White’s book “The Overview Effect,” published in 1987. When it came out, I gobbled it up, and have since read it several…
The Asymptotic Leap's insight:
Nice to watch this short film again now that I too can spend my off hours "Earth gazing".
Quantum computing has the potential to revolutionize computing by exponentially increasing speed, computing power, and security as single atoms would be capable of performing tasks. Though quantum computing is probably overkill for the typical person, it holds a great deal of promise for researchers and others who need ramped up computing. A team of researchers led by Mikhail Lukin of Harvard University have demonstrated an ability to use single atoms as gates that can block the flow of electrons and can be operated with one photon.
After receiving an implant that electrically stimulates the spinal cord, four paraplegic men can now voluntarily move their previously paralyzed legs. It's a breakthrough that's poised to revolutionize the treatment of paralysis.
“Decentralization is the process of redistributing or dispersing functions, powers, people or things away from a central location or authority.”
In the 21st century, we are bearing witness to changes that are reconstructing our relationship to ourselves, each other, and the world. And this process shows no signs of slowing down. So, you know, we might want to pay attention.
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