Archive: Ariadne 2012

Foresight as a gravitational force

Robert Hickson Mar 21, 2017

Jonathan Boston, of Victoria University, is launching two books this week on anticipatory governance. These are based on his study tour looking at how other governments look ahead. One, Safeguarding the future, from Bridget Williams Books is an extended précis of his larger Governing for the future. Jonathan notes New Zealand and many other governments have … Read More

Send lawyers, bots, and money

Robert Hickson Mar 14, 2017

The bank JP Morgan Chase & Co. has used machine learning to complete some mundane tasks (such as interpreting commercial-loan agreements) in “… a matter of seconds”  that would normally take 360,000 human hours. It also reduced the number of mistakes. Many legal firms (and banks) are investing in artificial intelligence (AI) to take over routine tasks. Including … Read More

The internet of predatory things

Robert Hickson Mar 05, 2017

My first job after completing my Bachelor’s was tracking and trapping rats on Stewart Island. Decades later, the tools and approaches for mammalian pest control have progressed; better lures, traps and poisons. But not so much. Particularly if you compare how the field of genetics has changed over the same time; from laborious manual DNA sequencing to high-speed automation. The … Read More

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Autonomous beasts and where to find them

Robert Hickson Mar 02, 2017

Seeing Boston Dynamics’ latest robot “Handle” got me thinking about the diversity of other autonomous (or nearly so) robots that have appeared over the last few years.   I’ve previously noted the prediction of a robotic “Cambrian explosion”. We aren’t at that stage yet, but it is interesting to look at the variety “out” there. Though mostly … Read More

Cyborg bugs

Robert Hickson Feb 10, 2017

Here’s a sci-fi scenario that may become reality: genetically modified cyborgs susceptible to mind control. That’s the plan for a collaboration between engineering R&D firm Draper and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.  They are focusing on dragonflies, and using optogenetics so that their movements can be controlled by light. The techniques and technologies are there, … Read More

Computer games

Robert Hickson Jan 31, 2017

Another one bites the dust. Libratus, an artificial intelligence program from Carnegie Mellon University has beaten four top Texas Hold’em poker players in a series of two player games over the last three weeks. That’s big news because unlike chess and go, poker playing relies on incomplete information. And you have to decide when to bet, and how much. Read More

Thinking the unpalatable

Robert Hickson Jan 25, 2017

If you look beyond the current concerns of rising populist authoritarianism there is a greater threat. It’s what Nik Gowing and Chris Langdon in the UK have called the failure to “think the unthinkable”. Based on interviews with a range of Chief Executives and other senior people in the public and private sector they highlight that current institutional … Read More

Thinking about machines that “Think”

Robert Hickson Jan 19, 2017

The biggest futurist thing for me this last year has been the progress and hype around artificial intelligence. Three quotes encapsulate the current state of artificial intelligence, and aspects of its future over the short term. Stephen Hawking made a Dickensian AI gambit with his quote:  Artificial Intelligence is “either the … Read More

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After the Singularity

Robert Hickson Nov 13, 2016

SingularityU’s summit happens in Christchurch this coming week. It’s purpose is to see how to “… thrive in an exponentially changing world” I’m not a fan of SingularityU. They seem overly enamoured with exponential change, rather than taking a more considered approach to looking towards the future. However, as an event to highlight emerging technological trends it is … Read More

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