What are your top 5 technologies of the next 15 years?

Discussion in 'Science and Technology' started by RAMA, Apr 7, 2012.

  1. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Technologically, we're nowhere NEAR that particular standard, let alone 15 to 25 years. Closer to a century, at least, before technologies like brain-machine interfaces performance enhancing prosthesis becomes available to anyone, and even those are EXTREMELY likely to be accessible only to the very rich at first.

    Genetic modification, on the other hand, is even farther off; the technology is more mature, but the motivation for actually tinkering with human genes just doesn't exist. Genetic engineering is considered too hit and miss and the ethical considerations are staggering, even for transhumanists. Those are hurdles that aren't going to be overcome in the next 25 years.

    At least, until they too are wiped out in a mass extinction event.

    That's the transhumanist position. The far more likely scenario is that a new power structure (probably including portions of the old one) will use those technologies to cement their own advantage and then lord it over the rest of humanity as a collection of empires and/or corporate fiefdoms. This is basically the scenario predicted by the Eugenics Wars: the modified supermen simply carved up the world between them in a series of dictatorships that devastated the rest of the human race.

    There's likely to be a stark factionalization when this happens. The transhumanists will find their natural enemy in humanists who have an almost religious obsession with "natural evolution" and denigrate attempts to defy nature. Caught in the middle will be populist movements, excluded from the upper class, who try to use those new technologies for their own benefit. Some of these will be progressive/socially conscious movements like UNICEF or One Laptop Per Child, others will be less enlightened groups like Al Qaida or the Kurdistan Workers Party. And of course there's the legitimate freedom fighter who will use that technology to overthrow his oppressors...

    The point is, humanity is too large a thing for that technology to be distributed evenly, and humans in general are too small-minded to ensure otherwise. It's sort of a catch-22 that we have to achieve enlightenment before we are mature enough to pursue it in the first place.

    When indoor plumbing and electricity are counted as "luxuries" in the 21st century, you know there's something wrong with your measuring standards.

    There is a difference, but it's hardly gigantic. Both depend on the same basic (flawed) assumptions about the nature of technology and the markets it serves, the same mistakes futurists are ALWAYS making, which is why their predictions are often so wildly inaccurate.

    Not necessarily. Considering there's no practical reason to imbue a machine with artificial personality EXCEPT to have that machine act as a surrogate for real people. This can only be accomplished if those machines are designed from the outset to be as similar to human beings as possible, with most of the same limitations and scope of intelligence. It is NOT a foregone conclusion that those AIs would eventually choose to transcend their built-in limitations; even if it were possible, they may not find it desirable.

    I'm loathe to use a Disney reference, but consider the AI that drives a garbage robot like Wall-E. Evidently this is a machine intelligence bordering on sentience, with the capacity for introspection, genuine curiosity and the ability to form friendships and loyalties. He can even set his own goals in life, to a certain limited extent. Yet, at the end of the day, Wall-E is still, basically, a self-propelled garbage truck, and that basic function pretty much drives every other facet of his personality. Why would he choose to transcend his garbage collection duties in favor of becoming, say, an omniscient cosmologist with knowledge spanning the farthest limits of the universe? From his point of view, collecting the leftover knicknacks and trinkets from the Old World is probably a lot more fun.

    Not even all humans subscribe to transcendentalism; it's fallacious to assume all of the machines would.

    And you don't think the fact that you're LOOKING for them every single day has anything to do with that?

    Oh, but it does. They key word in artificial intelligence is Artificial. That is to say it's something that humans created for a very specific purpose. We would have no reason to develop an artificial personality that DOESN'T closely resemble our own, even if we knew how.

    I disagree. I think our first and best hope for space exploration are are crazy SOBs with under-developed self-preservation instincts. It didn't take Von Neuman machines to spread humanity through every corner of the globe. What it really took was BALLS, and once space exploration is no longer the purview of governments, we will again start seeing those rugged half-crazy pioneer types put their balls on the line.
     
  2. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Again this is linear thinking: "yes, that may be possible but we are nowhere near it now." Only because you're not taking into account accelerating change. The biggest roadblock to explaining this to people is their own short term and very human biased way of looking at the world, and not realizing that this simply won't apply any more.

    I don't know how evenly the technology will spread, only that eventually only the highest level tech will exist after a time. What I do know in the nearer term is that the enabling technologies are spreading fast, 66% penetration of the internet...3 billion more people online, and the aforementioned penetration of cell phones into Africa by 2020. Real world events...facts. This makes it far more likely that the influence of information will spread rather than the reverse.

    Mass exinction events: Any disaster can occur in the universe, sure everyone and everything could die in a large scale extinction at any time, but of course, spreading ourselves away from Earth will maximize survival. It might be us, or it may be the machines that decide this is the logical way to go, and start seeding space Von Neuman machines and with smart matter.

    Well at least in once case, Ray Kurzweil's predictions are wildly accurate, even against claims to the contrary:

    http://www.acceleratingfuture.com/m...nse-to-ray-kurzweils-failed-2009-predictions/

    http://www.kurzweilai.net/kurzweil-responds-dont-underestimate-the-singularity

    Space travel...again, one dimensional thinking from you, ie: there really is only one way to do things or they got done...

    AI: Again, I don't think AI HAS to have human personality, in fact, while some of it's action may seem to be so in 2035 it won't have to be. I think it more likely that the human "personality" would come through a transhumanist origin ...however I don't think it's impossible for a machine to evolve emotions or "human'like" features, just as we have as biological machines. In fact, human beings can probably develop these things in AI much faster than natural selection did.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTPAQIvJ_1M&feature=related

    In terms of actually seeding our influence in space yes, I think most scientists agree Von Neuman type machines are the best bet, they are small, cheap, and reproduce, we can literally flood the galaxy with them. Then it can be taken to the next level.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_VBOB76oiQ
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2012
  3. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    So, Rama, why hasn't running water, a what, 3 thousand year old technology, made it to every human on the planet by now?
     
  4. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Only TECHNOLOGY is developing exponentially. Human beings and human societies are not, and the growth of technology cannot benefit that development unless it is a byproduct of that development (which, in most places, it is not).

    This is another error you make, in assuming that even with exponential growth there is a point beyond which technology will cease to develop. That is unlikely to be true even post-singularity, and those human communities left behind by the singularity will have to make due with less than "cutting edge" for a considerable amount of time.

    You haven't done much to back up the idea that the internet is an enabling technology, let alone the idea that internet access in and of itself is sufficient to offset the global income gap when more advanced technologies are less likely to proliferate at the same time.

    There are a million ways to do things, certainly. There is, however, only one BEST way to do things, with "best" being defined as that which is most likely to succeed so far as the goals we set. Experience tells me that any endeavor that depends entirely on a new revolutionary untried technology is doomed to either failure or such limited success as to never fully realize its goals. So the Von Neuman Machines -- or any other fanciful high tech approach, up to and including space elevators, launch loops, space tethers, laser-based propulsion, airship/stratolaunch or SSTO spaceplanes -- suffers from an inherent catch-22: the only way to make them effective is to use them ALOT, and the only way to use them a lot is to send an assload of people into space to develop them in the first place.

    Which means that ultimately NONE of those technologies will make space exploration possible in and of themselves. Those technologies will make space exploration EASIER, and considerably cheaper, and possibly even safer. The catch is that none of those technologies will develop until they are widely tested and used, which means that mankind does not have the luxury of waiting until space exploration gets easier, cheaper or safer. If we're going to do it, we'll still have to send people into space by the hundreds up there to establish a frontier where those technologies can be used and mature, and we're also going to have to learn to be comfortable with the idea that ALOT of the people we send into space are going to die up there. Until we take those first developmental (and psychological) steps, everything else is just fantasy.

    I never said it HAD to be. I'm saying it is extremely unlikely to develop along any other lines, since the only practical reason to develop a sentient AI is the desire for an artificial system that emulates a human personality. There is an extremely limited number of applications where such a system would be desirable; for almost everything else humans need machines to do, machine sentience is neither practical nor desirable (and in many cases would actually be rather inconvenient).

    If they're going to "evolve" that on their own it'll take a timescale similar -- though probably much longer -- to natural evolution, since those machines do not procreate and the variation between one generation and the next is vanishingly small (besides the fact that the evolutionary pressure towards emotions or "humanlike features" is virtually zero).

    It's not something that will quickly form by accident. Sentient AIs will be developed intentionally by humans for a specific human task; once you understand what sort of tasks would require machine sentience, it becomes a lot easier to predict what those machines will do when they become self aware.

    Sure it can. But not until or unless we start sending humans in space to make practical use of them. Otherwise it is still just another in a long list of powerpoint proposals that has never and will never get anywhere.

    Put that another way: Christopher Columbus would have had a much easier time discovering a faster route to India if he had convinced the Queen of Spain to fund Leonardo DaVinci's experiments and developed the world's first powered flying machine. They could have convinced Isabella -- and indeed, all of Europe -- that a trans-continental flying machine was the best and most efficient way of exploring the world and that sailing the oceans in rickety little boats was too expensive and unacceptably dangerous. Air transport is the way to go, the argument would be... and three hundred years later, they would still be waiting for the advent of the internal combustion engine before practical powered flight would even be REMOTELY possible.

    As it stands, Columbus managed to discover the new world using three leaky boats and a crew of morons; three hundred years later, the secret of powered flight would be discovered, NOT by a scientific mind as brilliant as DaVinci, but by a couple of bicycle mechanics in Kitty Hawk North Carolina.

    Von Neuman machines opening up the stars to humans? I won't say it's impossible. I WILL venture a guess that the first person who invents a practical version of such a device probably won't be born on Earth.
     
  5. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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  6. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Water seems simple doesn't? But it's a resource people have been fighting for for a long time, partly because we only have had easy access to .5% of the water on the planet (see quote below). Politics, religion, culture, war, natural disasters have all limited availability of clean water. In harsher climates, people often spend half the day acquiring access to water, limiting employment, health, and spending money. Many nations in the world can't afford the infrastructure necessary to supply running water. Roughly 900 million (depending on where you get your data) don't have access to it. Even so, this is certainly a higher total than 50 years ago, or 100.

    What is changing is affordability...as seen in the UN data I've posted before, countries and people have more wealth than ever. Add to this the scale and price of the technology available to bring access to clean water has changed, and in reality it doesn't matter if the water runs, only that it's clean...

    The cheap Slingshot device, which will likely revolutionize the world on many levels.

    [yt]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOQbVD7F1f4[/yt]

    http://foundationcenter.org/pnd/news/story.jhtml?id=245900021

    BTW, care to guess what percentage of the world had running water 3,000 years ago? :techman:

    RAMA
     
  7. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    This is exactly the point. something so simple as clean water has yet to become a pervasive technology due to the reasons you mentioned, yet you seem to think somehow that in the next 20 years the entire planet is going to transform into a resource rich utopia. We'll be lucky if in 20 years there are any fish left to eat.
    Does the percentage matter in any way? the point is that now, 3 thousand years later, we have yet to reach 100%.
     
  8. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    You missed MY point then, it really ISN'T simple at all....

    Human evolution is a mere fraction of geological time...10-12,000 years for what we think of as modern civilization, less than 250 years for true industrialized civilization out of a 5 billion year old planet! The fact that water availability has exploded in the last 100 years is quite a huge success(only 14% of homes in the USA had a bathtub in 1900!!)...and yet we have further to go. I've mentioned just a few of the enabling mechanisms that will allow us to improve this, and it's not wishful thinking, it's backed by ingenuity and big corporate money...not just Coca Cola, but GE and others..
     
  9. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    Human evolution has nothing to do with technological spread. Do you really think it's taken this long for the technology of clean water to reach the entire planet? The only reason the companies you mentioned are doing it now is for publicity.

    Anyway, I give up. I can see you're devoted to this religion you've formed.
     
  10. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    These are all facts...you simply refuse to see them...you couldn't have looked at the UN numbers, you didn't look at the technologies involved, you didn't look at mathematical models of exponential growth. So again...while the end result is uncertain, it really appears to be headed in that direction. So if you refuse to believe anything will change in the next 30-50 years, maybe at least I can enlighten you about the past...

    http://www.wilderdom.com/vignettes/WorldFacts.html
     
  11. Chemahkuu

    Chemahkuu Admiral Admiral

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    tl;dr find a new cult.
     
  12. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think this probably just scratches the surface of what 3 billion new minds, contributors, consumers, etc will add to the human situation in 2020 onward, but here goes:

    I've already brought up the economic impact, the world economy will never implode, this is a HUGE market...representing trillions of dollars, even though they are from poorer countries.

    Ah, but such machines are cheaper, easier, more numerous and far more likely to succeed than expensive, unwieldy spacecraft, with or without human crews. Unless there are new developments in price-performance of powerplants, or discoveries of shortcuts in space, this will be the best way to go...see the aforementioned video clip.

    Humans may follow AFTER...or they MAY not...maybe they will explore inwardly for awhile, using a thought process we can barely grasp. What we may do eventually is--again--the cheaper--easier, more sensible thing and not travel into space at all(suspended animation: prob not, generational ships: not very likely to last..), but to send DNA and information about that original subject by laser or in a storage bank aboard a ship, and re-create us there...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FvvO8ZBQeOk&feature=related

    On this timescale issue, I not only think you are wrong, but resoundingly so. In some cases the evolutionary approach is exactly what AI researchers are taking, bypassing having to program all data into a computer, they allow the AI to learn (bottom up). At the point the AI(s) reach human intelligence, then intelligence of the whole planet, they may well go in any direction, human personality or not, it would be possible! As for procreation of intelligent species, well its very human-centric now isn't it? Of course of machine can create intelligent copies or MORE intelligent copies of themselves, its certainly procreation in a different form. Since we are creating these AI ourselves, we can even bypass other parts of evolution in organic brains, the building of newer onto older parts of the brain...technically, we've already gotten to a level of AI evolution much faster than nature ever did!

    Monkey level AI in 50 years: 1950-2000(much faster than nature:techman:):

    http://www.transhumanist.com/volume1/AI_power_075.jpg

    Marovec, computer hardware matching the human brain:

    http://www.transhumanist.com/volume1/moravec.htm
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2012
  13. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Nonsense. Show me an early ape who can manage post-19th century technology in a meaningful way. Cultural evolution is even faster than biological evolution, and both are intertwined, influencing and influenced by technology...fire, agriculture, factories, light bulbs, nuclear power, space...today in industrialized nations, social interactions are influenced even more directly by it.

    So you dispute that the companies can do what they set out to? Because it's happening regardless. Does it matter that they are trying to make a profit by opening up a HUGE market? I would expect them to do that.
     
  14. publiusr

    publiusr Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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  15. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I guess even I underestimated the "cloud" computing craze, looks like its going to be almost quietly integrated into it's own OS(s) and therefore changing personal computing as we know it.
     
  16. sojourner

    sojourner Admiral Admiral

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    ^Funny, they've been saying that for at least 10 years, yet people still seem to like to control they're own data.
     
  17. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Originally I thought the same thing, apparently I was wrong...the cloud is too scalable, too adaptive, too accessible.

    Although I had online backup as long ago as the 90s, the cloud required a "killer app", looks like the killer app are the OSs and internet itself as well as portable devices --which have huge market penetration now--that created a need for sharing personal info across them all. Again, the meme was out there and the huge companies involved made it a self-fulfilling prophecy.


    I have been using Google Docs, Cloud Print, Dropbox for some time now, and now with Drive integrating all of Google's services, the game has changed.

    RAMA
     
  18. Crazy Eddie

    Crazy Eddie Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The question of whether or not they CAN is a moot point. It's really a question of whether or not they WILL. There are a lot of political, social and economic reasons to believe that they probably will not.
     
  19. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well the huge emerging markets suggest otherwise...Coca Cola alone (as in my example) is willing to spread the Slingshot technology to over 100 countries after testing.

    RAMA
     
  20. RAMA

    RAMA Vice Admiral Admiral

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