In 1963, in the depths of the Cold War, all of the futurists in the world could probably assemble in a largish conference room and still have space for an overhead projector. Half a century later, it would take a small stadium to hold all of the people who use the title in some form. The world of futures is a broad church today populated by everyone from author and inventor Ray Kurzweil and his obsessive focus on the singularity to Kanye West with his future-esque fashion fetishes. While it’s been a relatively quiet profession for a long time, suddenly it seems like futurists are all around, feeding a growing appetite for all things strange, metallic, and digital.
If you asked me to describe the rising philosophy of the day, I’d say it is data-ism. We now have the ability to gather huge amounts of data. This ability seems to carry with it certain cultural assumptions — that everything that can be measured should be measured; that data is a transparent and reliable lens that allows us to filter out emotionalism and ideology; that data will help us do remarkable things — like foretell the future.
Aaron Swartz was determined to free up access to academic articles. He perceived an injustice in which scientific research lies behind expensive paywalls despite being funded by the taxpayer. The taxpayer ends up paying twice for the same research: once to fund it and a second time to read it.
Alex Butler's insight:
It is not just pharma where access to reasearch is an issue
A researcher who specializes in analysing the way that information flows through Wikipedia during a breaking news event compared the way seven mass shootings -- including the recent incident at an elementary school in Connecticut -- were reported...
Ray Kurzweil is a leading thinker, inventor, and futurist known for his track record of accurate predictions. In this video, shot in Kurzweil’s office near Boston, he talks to Techonomy founder David Kirkpatrick about Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence computer system that famously defeated Jeopardy champions on the TV game show. Kurzweil explains Watson’s human-like intelligence by referencing the Turing Test, an assessment that measures a machine’s ability to exhibit behavior indistinguishable from that of a human.
When the first website was born, it was probably quite lonely. And with few people having access to browsers - or to web servers so that they could in turn publish their own content - it must have taken a visionary leap of faith at the time to see why it was so exciting. The early WWW team, led by Tim Berners-Lee at CERN, had such vision and belief. The fact that they called their technology the World Wide Web hints at the fact that they knew they had something special, something big.
Quick, what’s the square root of 2,130? How many Roadmaster convertibles did Buick build in 1949? What airline has never lost a jet plane in a crash?
If you answered “46.1519,” “8,000,” and “Qantas,” there are two possibilities. One is that you’re Rain Man. The other is that you’re using the most powerful brain-enhancement technology of the 21st century so far: Internet search.
True, the Web isn’t actually part of your brain. And Dustin Hoffman rattled off those bits of trivia a few seconds faster in the movie than you could with the aid of Google. But functionally, the distinctions between encyclopedic knowledge and reliable mobile Internet access are less significant than you might think. Math and trivia are just the beginning.
Google's Project Glass is a very interesting product. At this week's TED 2013 conference in Long Beach, I had the chance to wear and tinker with Google Project Glass (for photographic proof, you can follow me on Twitter and see the...
Ray Kurzweil, one of the most wide-eyed futurists around, is going to work at Google.
Kurzweil is one of the foremost authors responsible for the popularity of the notion of technological singularity, the idea that artificial intelligence will someday (soon) reach a crescendo of self-improvement, kicking off an endlessly growing planetary intelligence and allowing us to transcend our limited humanity.
He's written multiple books about artificial intelligence, the singularity and transhumanism. He's also intensely interested in human life extension and has written extensively about health and biology. On top of all that, he's an inventor of musical instruments, and he's worked on optical character recognition, text-to-speech and speech recognition technology.
It's in those last few areas that Kurzweil will be of most immediate use to Google. The KurzweilAI press release says he's joining Google to "work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing."
Augmented reality (AR) -- the term does not exactly jump off the tongue. But the concepts behind the technology are beginning to change what we think of ourselves, objects and the people in the world that surrounds us...