Growing “naughty bits” in the lab Robert Hickson Oct 08

Biology has truly started conjugating with engineering now. All sorts of food and body parts are now being generated in the lab. While genetically modified crops and farm animals make the headlines, and raise concerns about environmental impacts, food safety, and ethics, there is a quieter synthetic biology revolution going on in labs. Synthetic biology [...]

Generationalisation Robert Hickson Sep 28

An article in the Weekly Standard makes a good point about the vacuousness of some “generational analyses”. It’s hard to generalise about a diverse set of people based on when they were born, although that doesn’t stop many from reading their horoscopes every day. And as the Weekly Standard as well as others note, different studies [...]

Brief updates to the future Robert Hickson Sep 18

A few quick updates to previous posts. Following on from Unthinking Machines – Noah Goodman makes a very good point about reconfiguring the Turing Test - break it up into a set of more meaningful tests that actually are linked to thinking, rather than attempting to fool a panel of judges. AI, Robotics, and the Future [...]

Unthinking machines Robert Hickson Sep 16

It’s interesting how “Watson”, the computing system from IBM, is gathering a persona around itself (or rather one is being woven for it). “Watson”, which garnered fame several years ago by winning a game show, is now doing scientific research, among other noble things. Though it’s still a distant forebear of HAL 9000, so the [...]

Extreme futuring Robert Hickson Sep 04

It would be a reliably accurate prediction that Zager & Evans’ “In the year 2525″ will not be at the top of most futurist’s best song ever written list Looking 500 years & more ahead is unusual for your common or garden futurist. Most at the moment are only looking out to the year 2030 [...]

“What’s next?” from General Electric Robert Hickson Sep 02

General Electric links back 50 years to an article by Isaac Asimov to promote the technologies its betting on for the future. Writing after a visit to the 1964 “World’s Fair” Asimov speculated in the New York Times, what technologies would be around in 2014. [World Fairs didn't survive that long, but Expo's have taken [...]

AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs Robert Hickson Aug 12

The respectable research group Pew Research has, as part of its “Future of the Internet Project”, just released a report on how robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) may affect the future of jobs. AI is already starting to write well, and the founders of Google think there is a lot more to come. Others are [...]

Robots and the elderly Robert Hickson Jul 01

In the movie Robot and Frank children give their old dad a robot to help look after him because they don’t want to, or can’t. That’s a scenario some see as more and more likely. New Zealand’s population, like many others in the west, is projected over the next few decades to have a substantial fraction [...]

Life, extended Robert Hickson Jun 07

Myths and legends, as well as more recent stories, have cautionary tales about those seeking immortality. But there are still those who long not just for a few more years of life, but decades extra before shuffling off this mortal coil. There seems plenty going on in the life extension world at the moment. Some [...]

Signs from the near future Robert Hickson May 20

A tumblr site called Signs from the near future by Fernando Barbella imagines what technologies may be widely used not so long from now. Its cleverly done, and gets you thinking. Although the strapline “We better get used to them …” implies a lack of control or choice, which I hope won’t be the case. The Verge [...]

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