State and trends of carbon pricing Robert Hickson Dec 10

The World Bank’s just released its report State & trends of carbon pricing. Thirty nine countries and 23 sub-national jurisdictions (eg, regions or states) have or are planning to introduce carbon pricing schemes, such as carbon trading schemes or taxes. The European Union has the largest carbon market, followed by China.   The report notes [...]

Transport Futures Robert Hickson Dec 07

Thirty billion, 60 billion, one billion, 10 billion. Those are some of the numbers from the Ministry of Transport’s recent Future Demand project. 30 billion kilometres travelled a year on New Zealand roads (excluding trucks) – that’s 100 round trips to the sun.  $60 billion is the cost of the road network (that’s about four [...]

Big data do do Robert Hickson Nov 20

“Smart” toilets aren’t new. But there are smart toilets and smarter toilets. Several Japanese companies are selling models that will lift the lid, have anti-bacterial nanoparticles, give you a wash and do the flushing for you. But that’s more politeness than smartness. Another Japanese company, Toto, sells models that can do a simple urine analysis, [...]

Post-mortem futures Robert Hickson Nov 03

With Halloween just past it’s a good time to consider end of life futures. While we are getting better at postponing death (including getting better at bringing those close to death back to life, transplanting “dead” hearts, as well as some successes against cancers), we’re not cheating it. People of European ancestry have in recent [...]

A nose for the future Robert Hickson Oct 23

It’s been a big time for noses recently. Who would have picked that? First up, a paper in PLOS ONE  indicated that losing one’s sense of smell may be a predictor (statistically speaking) of your demise (at least if you are older than 57). The authors speculate Olfactory function is thus one of the strongest [...]

Clairvoyant vehicles, but what about us? Robert Hickson Oct 10

Some of you may recall “The Hoff” and his smart car KITT in Knight Rider. With the advent of Google’s autonomous cars, parallels between them and KITT have be drawn.   But apart from self-driving ability, there’s not a lot of similarity (and the Trans Am is way sexier than a self-driving Prius). Now though, [...]

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 [...]

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