Some interesting sources of inspiration, with thanks to xstof.
1) Fantastic on-line magazine H+ (Human +), and transhumanistic inpired: http://hplusmagazine.com/magazine
In the intro by the editor of the Summer 2009 issue of the H+ Magazine, there is a wonderful setting-the-scene statement that we can also apply to our Think Tank on Long Term Future:
Watching the news as we do, we witness incredible breakthroughs nearly every week. These are stories that would have been the “story of the year” if they had happened just a decade ago. But these days, they are quickly swept aside by the next breaking science story. They seem to come at ever increasing speeds. In this sense, we are becoming ever more aware of the implications of moore’s Law being played out in the “NBIC” (Nano, Bio, Info & Cogno) “Information science” ﬁelds.
We hope that (among other things) we can inspire young people to study and get involved in the emerging “NBIC” sciences and technologies so as to help us transcend our genetic/biological limitations. We’re hoping that future generations will be able to live incredibly long and healthy life spans without disease, enjoy higher intelligences (perhaps augmented by computers through braincomputer interfaces), and generally be more productive and happy.
In the Spring 2009 Issue, there was also a really cool article about the state of Nanotechnology.
Excerpt from that article:
If nanotechnology follows Moore’s law (transistors on a chip double every 18 months), this level of nanotechnology could occur in the next 15 years or less. The vision includes:
• Precisely targeted agents for cancer therapy
• Efficient solar photovoltaic cells
• Efficient, high-power-density fuel cells
• Single molecule and single electron sensors
• Biomedical sensors (in vitro and in vivo)
• High-density computer memory
• Molecular-scale computer circuits
• Selectively permeable membranes
• Highly selective catalysts
• Display and lighting systems
• Responsive (“smart”) materials
• Ultra-high-performance materials
• Nanosystems for APM.
It also includes numerous links to the coolest sites on that subject, including a link to Eric Drexler’s Nanotechnology Roadmap, dated 2007, and translated in Russian June 2009 (Elie, how is your scientific Russian ? 🙂
2) A Web² PDF Whitepaper that is published at the occasion of the upcoming Web 2.0 Summit scheduled for 20-22 October 2009 in San-Francisco.
The whitepaper can be found here.
Some salient extracts, that really inspire me and the folks at our Think Tank:
Collective intelligence applications depend on managing, understanding, and responding to massive amounts of user-generated data in real time. The "subsystems" of the emerging internet operating system are increasingly data subsystems: location, identity (of people, products, and places), and the skeins of meaning that tie them together. This leads to new levers of competitive advantage: Data is the "Intel Inside" of the next generation of computer applications.
Today, we realize that these insights were not only directionally right, but are being applied in areas we only imagined in 2004. The smartphone revolution has moved the Web from our desks to our pockets. Collective intelligence applications are no longer being driven solely by humans typing on keyboards but, increasingly, by sensors. Our phones and cameras are being turned into eyes and ears for applications; motion and location sensors tell where we are, what we’re looking at, and how fast we’re moving. Data is being collected, presented, and acted upon in real time. The scale of participation has increased by orders of magnitude.
With more users and sensors feeding more applications and platforms, developers are able to tackle serious real-world problems. As a result, the Web opportunity is no longer growing arithmetically; it’s growing exponentially. Hence our theme for this year: Web Squared. 1990-2004 was the match being struck; 2005-2009 was the fuse; and 2010 will be the explosion.
Ever since we first introduced the term "Web 2.0," people have been asking, "What’s next?" Assuming that Web 2.0 was meant to be a kind of software version number (rather than a statement about the second coming of the Web after the dotcom bust), we’re constantly asked about "Web 3.0." Is it the semantic web? The sentient web? Is it the social web? The mobile web? Is it some form of virtual reality?
It is all of those, and more.
The Web is no longer a collection of static pages of HTML that describe something in the world. Increasingly, the Web is the world – everything and everyone in the world casts an "information shadow," an aura of data which, when captured and processed intelligently, offers extraordinary opportunity and mind bending implications. Web Squared is our way of exploring this phenomenon and giving it a name.
The whitepaper tackles Web² from following angles:
– Redefining Collective Intelligence: New Sensory Input
– Cooperating Data Subsystems
– How the Web Learns: Explicit vs. Implicit Meaning
– Web Meets World: The "Information Shadow" and the Internet of Things
– Photosynth, Gigapixel Photography, and Infinite Images (example)
– The Rise of Real Time: A Collective Mind
Thrilling is the thinking on identity and information shadows of objects:
For instance, a book has information shadows on Amazon, on Google Book Search, on Goodreads, Shelfari, and LibraryThing, on eBay and on BookMooch, on Twitter, and in a thousand blogs.
A song has information shadows on iTunes, on Amazon, on Rhapsody, on MySpace, or Facebook.
A person has information shadows in a host of emails, instant messages, phone calls, tweets, blog postings, photographs, videos, and government documents.
A product on the supermarket shelf, a car on a dealer’s lot, a pallet of newly mined boron sitting on a loading dock, a storefront on a small town’s main street — all have information shadows now.
In many cases, these information shadows are linked with their real world analogues by unique identifiers: an ISBN or ASIN, a part number, or getting more individual, a social security number, a vehicle identification number, or a serial number. Other identifiers are looser, but identity can be triangulated: a name plus an address or phone number, a name plus a photograph, a phone call from a particular location undermining what once would have been a rock-solid alibi.
This puts a completely different perspective on the thinking about for example the Belgian Electronic Identity Card (eID) which is based on information in the government central database and referred to by the Belgian Social Security Number.
Why do we still need numbers ? See also my earlier post on “Do we still need identity numbers?”.
There is also a fantastic reference to Jeff Jonas work on Identity.
Jonas’ work included building a database of known US persons from various sources. His database grew to about 630 million "identities" before the system had enough information to identify all the variations. But at a certain point, his database began to learn, and then to shrink. Each new load of data made the database smaller, not bigger. 630 million plus 30 million became 600 million, as the subtle calculus of recognition by "context accumulation" worked its magic.
The last paragraphs are even more stimulating:
But 2009 marks a pivot point in the history of the Web. It’s time to leverage the true power of the platform we’ve built. The Web is no longer an industry unto itself – the Web is now the world.
And the world needs our help.
If we are going to solve the world’s most pressing problems, we must put the power of the Web to work – its technologies, its business models, and perhaps most importantly, its philosophies of openness, collective intelligence, and transparency. And to do that, we must take the Web to another level. We can’t afford incremental evolution anymore.
It’s time for the Web to engage the real world. Web meets World – that’s Web Squared.
3) A recent interview with Ray Kurzweil at the occasion of the real start of his Singularity University.
It little less exciting – at least of you have read his book “The Singularity is Near” – but always inspiring.
Let the future emerge !