Tracking the Future
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Tracking the Future
Explore the most important technology and science trends! News, Analysis, Interviews, Presentations, Documentaries. All in one place at Tracking the future magazine
Curated by Szabolcs Kósa
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How do neurons connect to each others? Blue Brain Project opens new insights.

One of the greatest challenges in neuroscience is to identify the map of connections between neurons. In a landmark paper published in PNAS, the EPFL's Blue Brain Project (BBP) has identified key principles that determine synapse-scale connectivity by virtually reconstructing a cortical microcircuit and comparing it to a mammalian sample.

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Christian Garza's comment, September 19, 2012 5:46 AM
interesting
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'Moral' Robots: the Future of War or Dystopian Fiction?

'Moral' Robots: the Future of War or Dystopian Fiction? | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

The dawn of the 21st century has been called the decade of the drone. Unmanned aerial vehicles, remotely operated by pilots in the United States, rain Hellfire missiles on suspected insurgents in South Asia and the Middle East.

Now a small group of scholars is grappling with what some believe could be the next generation of weaponry: lethal autonomous robots. At the center of the debate is Ronald C. Arkin, a Georgia Tech professor who has hypothesized lethal weapons systems that are ethically superior to human soldiers on the battlefield. A professor of robotics and ethics, he has devised algorithms for an "ethical governor" that he says could one day guide an aerial drone or ground robot to either shoot or hold its fire in accordance with internationally agreed-upon rules of war.


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Singularity 1 on 1 / 30+ unique one-on-one interviews with the people committed to creating a better future.

Singularity 1 on 1 / 30+ unique one-on-one interviews with the people committed to creating a better future. | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Help my friend Socrates to spread the word on Singularity 1 on 1

 

Singularity 1 on 1 is a series of podcast interviews with the best scientists, writers, entrepreneurs, film-makers, journalists, philosophers and artists, debating the impact of technology, exponential growth, genetics, robotics, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence and the technological singularity.

Singularity 1 on 1 has established itself not only as the first podcast of its kind but also as the most prominent one. The show has been consistent in delivering unique content via direct one-on-one interviews with high-profilers in an environment of unmatched authenticity, easy and open public access and total transparency.

Nikola Danaylov (aka Socrates) is a philosopher, singularitarian, and infopreneur. Born in Bulgaria, he moved in 1998 to Canada where he completed an HBA in Political Science, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Toronto plus an MA in Political Science at York University.

Support Singularity 1 on 1, donate and spread the word!

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The World in 2050

This talk draws on the latest global modeling research to construct a sweeping thought experiment on what our world will be like in 2050. The World in 2050 combines the lessons of geography and history with state-of-the-art model projections and analytical data-everything from climate dynamics and resource stocks to age distributions and economic growth projections.

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Machines in minds to reverse engineer the machine that is mind

Randal A. Koene at TEDxTallinn

 

Randal A. Koene is Dutch neuroscientist and -engineer, co-founder of carboncopies.org network.
Randal's research is centered on how to decode and simulate brain processes on computers and to find out, if and how could we possibly transfer mind to a non-biological substrate that is needed in patient-specific neuroprostheses. He is also working on the feasibility and roadmap to whole brain emulation.

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Chemical Brain Preservation: How to Live "Forever" - A Personal View

A number of neuroscientists, working today with simple model organisms, are investigating the hypothesis that chemical brain preservation may inexpensively preserve the organism's memories and mental states after death.

by John Smart

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Transhuman Week: exploring the frontiers of human enhancement

Transhuman Week: exploring the frontiers of human enhancement | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Wired.co.uk seeks to navigate the thorny ethical, medical and social issues associated with using technology to enhance the human body and mind through a series of features, galleries and guest posts...

from 3 September to 7 September

http://www.wired.co.uk/topics/transhuman-week

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How Self-Sustaining Space Habitats Could Save Humanity from Extinction

How Self-Sustaining Space Habitats Could Save Humanity from Extinction | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Physicist Stephen Hawking suggests that our ongoing efforts to colonize space could ultimately save humanity from extinction. As it stands, Earth is our only biosphere — all our eggs are currently in one basket. If something were to happen to either our planet or our civilization, it would be vital to know that we could sustain a colony somewhere else.

And the threats are real. The possibility of an asteroid impact, nuclear war, a nanotechnological disaster, or severe environmental degradation make the need for off-planet habitation extremely urgent. And given our ambitious future prospects, including the potential for ongoing population growth, we may very well have no choice but to leave the cradle.

We're obviously not going to get there overnight — but here's how we could do it.

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Biotech is thrusting us into new political territory

Biotech is thrusting us into new political territory | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Nobody is immune from the feeling that change is accelerating with each passing year. This sense of "future shock" is perhaps most closely associated with information technology. We've all experienced the anxiety, frustration and resentment that accompanies the introduction of a new version of software on which we depend, or the realisation that people younger than ourselves have adopted a new technology that makes their lifestyle seem very different from our own.

Worries about rapid change also bubble up in response to scientific progress, especially when it raises moral questions. We've seen this time and again with controversies over evolution, reproductive rights, the origin of the universe and nearly all issues in science that relate to human values.

Biology is an especially volatile source of sensitivities. The old biology was mainly observational, but the new biology, or biotechnology - including stem cells, embryo research, synthetic biology and reproductive technology - has unprecedented power to change basic life processes.

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Who is worse? Those who think progress will be easy? Or those who deny progress at all?

Who is worse? Those who think progress will be easy? Or those who deny progress at all? | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

== Grouches versus Pollyannas... spare us! ==

Economics-pundit Niall Ferguson has weighed in again. This time, in Don't Believe the Techno-Utopian Hype, he rails against the super-optimists -- those who believe that eternal rapid progress will be the natural, even teleologically ordained, result of ever-rising information technology and connectivity.

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Synthetic future

Synthetic future | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Professor Pamela Silver of Harvard Medical School (HMS) believes in biology’s potential to change the world. She sees a future where scientists routinely wield microbes against disease, using computers to turn bacteria into microscopic drug factories rapidly assembled from off-the-shelf biological parts.
She sees crops easing world hunger after being enhanced with the genes of extreme bacteria that give plants a second way to convert sunlight into biomass.
She sees a future where the cells of astronauts remember if they’ve been damaged by gamma rays, alerting doctors before cancer starts to grow.
Silver, a leader in the relatively new field of synthetic biology, is working toward that future, running multiple projects in two labs that employ nearly two dozen fellows, graduate students, undergraduates, and staff.

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Should Robots Have A License to Kill?

Should Robots Have A License to Kill? | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Way back in 1942, science fiction author Isaac Asimov proposed his famous Three Laws of Robotics in a short story entitled “Runaround”:

1.) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2.) A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3.) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Despite the enduring influence of these tenets, there’s nonetheless a push underway to give robots what’s been termed “lethal autonomy” – that is, the ability to kill without direct human involvement. Killing by algorithm. That’s no longer science fiction. Not only has it become technologically possible but increasingly likely to occur, if not here, then overseas. For some, the advantages of automation in human conflict are just too great a temptation. That’s a fundamental shift that could very well change our geopolitical landscape.

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Megatrends: Future Paradigms for Business

Megatrends: Future Paradigms for Business | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Against the broad sweep of human history on this planet the last few hundred years has given rise to astonishing innovations resulting in prosperity for a large proportion of the human family and the accumulation of massive wealth by a small minority.

But as we begin to internalise and comprehend the real costs associated with this remarkable and unprecedented phase of exponential growth and development, there is increasing evidence that a fundamental course correction is needed (at least in the means of production and the rates of consumption) if continued affluence is to remain a viable goal.

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One Step Closer to Building a Simulated Human Brain

One Step Closer to Building a Simulated Human Brain | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

The Holy Grail of neuroscience is a complete map of all of the synaptic connections in your brain — which could allow us to describe the very flow of information in the brain.

And now, researchers working at the Blue Brain Project have successfully reconstructed a virtual microcircuit that is making it possible to predict the locations of synapses in the neocortex. This breakthrough could dramatically accelerate the brain-mapping project — while adding further credence to the suggestion that a simulated brain may someday be possible.
The Blue Brain Project was founded in 2005 by the Brain and Mind Institute of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Their goal is to create a synthetic brain by reverse-engineering the mammalian brain down to the molecular level. To do so, they're using a Blue Gene supercomputer that runs NEURON software — a configuration that has resulted in a biologically realistic model of neurons.

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NASA Starts Work on Real Life Star Trek Warp Drive

"Perhaps a Star Trek experience within our lifetime is not such a remote possibility." These are the words of Dr. Harold "Sonny" White, the Advanced Propulsion Theme Lead for the NASA Engineering Directorate. Dr. White and his colleagues don't just believe a real life warp drive is theoretically possible; they've already started the work to create one.

 

read the original article here:

http://www.icarusinterstellar.org/daydreaming-beyond-the-solar-system-with-warp-field-mechanics/

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Envisioning the future of health technology

Envisioning the future of health technology | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Technology is the ultimate democratizing force in society. Over time, technology raises lowest common denominators by reducing costs and connecting people across the world. Medical technology is no exception to this trend: previously siloed repositories of information and expensive diagnostic methods are rapidly finding a global reach and enabling both patients and practitioners to make better use of information.

This visualization is an exercise in speculating about which individual technologies are likely to affect the scenario of health in the coming decades. Arranged in six broad areas, the forecast covers a multitude of research and developments that are likely to disrupt the future of healthcare.

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Ben Goertzel | Artificial General Intelligence: An Overview

Dr. Ben Goertzel, a self-described Cosmist and Singularitarian, is one of the world's leading researchers in artificial general intelligence (AGI), natural language processing, cognitive science, data mining, machine learning, computational finance, bioinformatics, and virtual worlds and gaming He has published a dozen scientific books, 100+ technical papers, and numerous journalistic articles.

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Randal Koene - Substrate Independent Minds

SIM: What is it?
Why Pursue a Conservative Approach to SIM?
Preserving Identity: An Exploratory Problem
Resolution
Grasping Structure and Function
How Many Synaptic Connections Do We Need To Model?
The Human Connectome Project

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Cryonics, avatars or medicine: a transhumanist's dilemma (Wired UK)

Cryonics, avatars or medicine: a transhumanist's dilemma (Wired UK) | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Life-extending technologies are getting more lab time and investment than ever before, and with experts in the field proclaiming the knowledge is just a few decades away, you'll want to be around for it.

 

Over the past decade, the main areas of research -- brain emulation, regenerative medicine and cryonics -- have gradually been departing the realms of science fiction and making a name for themselves in scientific journals. Back in 2009, when Avatar suggested that people could one day upload their brain to an invincible body-double, it seemed like something only James Cameron could dream up. Then a student in Israel controlled a robot with his mind from 2,000km away. In 2009 Aubrey de Grey announced -- to more than a few raised eyebrows -- that the first person to live to 1,000 thanks to regenerative medicine was probably already alive -- and by 2012 a four-year old became the first person to receive a life-saving blood vessel made from her own cells. And around about the same time the horrendous 1997 film Batman & Robin painted cryonics as a field best reserved for psychotic villains, Gregory Fahy and William Rall announced the development of the first cryoprotectant able to vitrify the human body slowly enough that ice crystals don't form and cause tissue damage.

 

Wired.co.uk spoke with leading proponents of each field to find out if we could be convinced to fork out £50,000 to have our brains put on ice. (Wired and Tired by Luke Robert Mason, director of Virtual Futures and advisor to Humanity Plus).


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The Transcension Hypothesis: An Intriguing Answer to the Fermi Paradox?

The Transcension Hypothesis: An Intriguing Answer to the Fermi Paradox? | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Ever since Enrico Fermi questioned back in the 1950’s why, if a multitude of civilisations are likely to exist in the Milky Way, no sign of their existence in the form of probes or spacecraft has ever been detected, scientists and critical thinkers have struggled to resolve the problem by supplying a host of inventive arguments with mixed reception.

To date one of the most common answers to the Great Silence was simply that life is so rare, so widely distributed, and the scale of the universe so immense, that the probability of contact or communication between any two space-faring civilisations is almost non-existent. Needless to say an outlook which seems like a very lonely, sad and pessimistic state of affairs for intelligent life to find itself in.

However, John Smart, of the Accelerating Studies Foundation, has proposed a novel idea which suggests a rather more exciting and stranger fate for intelligence than previous conceptions. In the Transcension Hypothesis, he suggests that sufficiently advanced civilisations may invariably leave our universe by using and eventually relocating to black-hole-like destinations! Bizarre as this notion may initially sound the suggestion is backed by considerable research drawn from fields as diverse as biology, physics, computer science, information theory and sociology, with a series of falsifiable claims which will become testable in the coming decades.

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Seven Themes for the Coming Decade

Seven Themes for the Coming Decade | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

Understanding long-term trends is an important tool in identifying opportunities and risks. STEEP analysis looks at the world through five different perspectives – Social, Technological, Economic, Ecological, and Political.

The following are the major themes that are presently shaping the future...

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Jeremy Rifkin: The Third Industrial Revolution

Every industrial revolution is spurred by a shift in both energy and communication technology. Author and economist Jeremy Rifkin says we are on the precipice of a Third Industrial Revolution combining renewable energy and the internet. He joins Piya Chattopadhyay to discuss the possibility of hundreds of millions of people producing their own green energy in their homes and sharing it with each other in an "energy internet."

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10 Body Hacks That Will Be Available By 2025

10 Body Hacks That Will Be Available By 2025 | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

In the year 2000, conceiving of a device that worked simultaneously as a handheld computer, portable MP3 player, satellite radio, GPS, and phone seemed like science fiction against the then-current backdrop of shiny new, brick-like flip phones. As witnessed with today’s success of the iPhone, technology advances quickly and without much advance notice if driven by market demand and commercial backing.
The next wave of the future could go beyond the technology we’re holding in our hands and extend to what’s embedded inside our hands. There is experimentation with bio-technological hacks going on today both in the lab and in an unsanctioned underground of fanatics that could result in body implant “upgrades” being as ubiquitous in 2025 as smartphones are now.

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The Robots We Build To Kill For Us

The Robots We Build To Kill For Us | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

While Isaac Asimov's famous (fictional) robot laws are all about protecting human life, it seems that at an ever-faster rate we fragile humans are actually using our robots to wage war in real life or deliver police authority from the sky.

That's prompted an interesting blog posting this week at the Wall Street Journal. Referencing Asimov's three laws, the blog asks "should robots have a license to kill?" It's a key question because we actually are giving some of our robots weapons that are trained on humans, and there's rarely a couple of weeks that go by without mention of the "drone war" on targets in the hills of Afghanistan or Pakistan. Drones work well in these inaccessible regions and can loiter in the area before being commanded to fire on a target they've detected with their sensors. Yet it's a tactic that doesn't always result in the right outcome.

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Teaching a microbe to make fuel

Teaching a microbe to make fuel | Tracking the Future | Scoop.it

A humble soil bacterium called Ralstonia eutropha has a natural tendency, whenever it is stressed, to stop growing and put all its energy into making complex carbon compounds. Now scientists at MIT have taught this microbe a new trick: They’ve tinkered with its genes to persuade it to make fuel — specifically, a kind of alcohol called isobutanol that can be directly substituted for, or blended with, gasoline

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