SciBlogs

Counting sheep scenarios Robert Hickson May 14

I’ve just come across this research project – Counting sheep - being run by Anne Galloway at Victoria University’s School of Design. It is exploring how cultural studies and design research could support public engagement on the development & use of science and technology. In a post last year I had asked if any NZ design [...]

A myopic vision of the future Robert Hickson May 05

The New York Times has a disappointing short article/graphic titled “A vision of the future from those likely to invent it“. Disappointing because they interview only 7 people, all from/associated with Silicon Valley, who are supposedly “driving the technological transformation”. Sure the internet is likely to have a large role in our future lives, but [...]

Future war & peace Robert Hickson Apr 29

While this past weekend the country has looked back on wars past, what of the future of war? There are two questions here – will there be wars in the future, and if so, how will they be fought? Armed conflicts have been declining (both in terms of number of wars and casualties) over recent [...]

Nuclear manoeuvres Robert Hickson Apr 13

Is the world moving toward a nuclear power renaissance? The following chart from Technology Review shows that while traditional nuclear energy nations are scaling back, others are building nuclear power plants. Japan is moving to reactivate nuclear plants , although the opposition political party wants to phase them out. China in particular is going nuclear gangbusters, to [...]

Fuel from water? Robert Hickson Apr 10

Will we shortly be able to stop drilling oil and get fuels straight from the water around us? That’s been promoted for many decades now, but we may be getting closer. The US Naval Research Lab announced this week that they have a way of converting carbon dioxide and hydrogen from seawater into hydrocarbon fuels. [...]

Canada’s emerging technologies metascan Robert Hickson Apr 09

The Canadian Government’s just released a report on emerging technologies. It looks out over the next 15 years and focuses on digital technologies, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies and neuroscience technologies, which they consider have the potential for disruptive rather than incremental innovation. As you’d expect they consider biological enhancements, nanofactories, robots, wired-up everything. There are no major surprises in [...]

Influential futures reports from the past Robert Hickson Mar 18

It was, apparently, “Future Day” on the first of March. I didn’t see that coming, and Google didn’t have a Doodle commemorating it so it can’t be that big a deal yet. The School of International Futures celebrated it, after a fashion, by listing five important futures publications in the last half century. Their criteria [...]

Mythical magic munitions Robert Hickson Mar 11

There may be still a few discoveries and technologies out there, or yet to see the light of day, that will be “magic bullets” which will solve a pressing problem. As, for example, penicillin once did. In parts of Silicon Valley that hope probably still springs eternal, at least if you can develop an app [...]

Brain zapping Robert Hickson Mar 04

It could be that the Tin foil hat brigade are right after all. Howard Hughes Medical Institute scientists have played around with fly mating behaviour by shooting a laser at their brain. This follows on from work implanting false memories in mice using the same technique – optogenetics. Since optogenetics currently relies on genetically modifying [...]

Energy Darwinism Robert Hickson Feb 20

If fossil fuels are the figurative dinosaurs in the energy landscape, are renewables the agile rodents poised to take over the world? That’s an on-going and often intense debate. Will new technologies enable the fossil fuel industry to adapt and provide us all the oil (and gas) that we could possibly ever need? Will renewable [...]

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