Beeline To The Future

BEELINE TO THE FUTURE: The Future of Computer Interfaces

Robert Bee's picture

If you’ve ever seen Minority Report you may have been impressed with Tom Cruise’s gesture-based computer interface. The interface was cool and cinematic, as Cruise waved his arms around in swirls of colors, graphics, and information, but it required too much effort, your arms would get tired after awhile.

But it does raise an interesting question: will human-technology interfaces be radically different in the future? What will replace the mouse and keyboard?

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BEE-LINE TO THE FUTURE: The End of Progress

Robert Bee's picture

Neal Stephenson, the famed SF author of mammoth novels, has just published an intriguing essay “Innovation Starvation” in the World Policy Journal (http://www.worldpolicy.org/journal/fall2011/innovation-starvation). Stephenson worries that we can no longer build big things in this society: the space program has dwindled in significance, and we still have not solved the energy problems that plagued the country since the 70s. Overspecialization in the sciences and engineering has made it difficult to achieve large goals.

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BEELINE TO THE FUTURE: Internet Personalization

Robert Bee's picture

The co-founder of MoveOn, Eli Pariser recently published The Filter Bubble: What the Internet is hiding from you. Pariser’s book discusses “Internet Personalization,” which is the tendency for Internet filters to adjust information to topics that you’re interested in and agree with. For example, Facebook has algorithms that filter the information encountered on the service. If Facebook sees that you are interested in rockabilly, it’ll feed you lots of information about rockabilly events in your area.

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BEELINE TO THE FUTURE: The Aims of 'Occupy Wallstreet'

Robert Bee's picture

Recently, a group of largely youthful protestors have been “occupying Wall Street.” There has been a great deal of controversy in the press about the goals of the protesters: do they have coherent demands? Are their positions reasonable and consistent? Do they even know what they want?

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BEELINE TO THE FUTURE: The Replicant of Philip K. Dick and Other Links

Robert Bee's picture

We are starting to enter the age of the replicant. Singularity Hub, which is a great website for science fictional topics, posted a link to a very interesting replicant video. Three people with android versions of themselves got together for a press conference. Click through and play the video of the remarkably life-like robots. The robots are humanoid and eerie; in fact, the Japanese robot looks more realistic than its human original.

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BEELINE TO THE FUTURE: The Unauthorized Transmigration Of Souls

Robert Bee's picture

China has just passed a law forbidding the unauthorized transmigration of souls. “Tibet’s living Buddhas have been banned from reincarnation without permission from China’s atheist leaders. The ban is included in new rules intended to assert Beijing’s authority over Tibet’s restive and deeply Buddhist people” (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article2194682.ece).
This edict is intended to prevent the birth of a Lama that China does not like and facilitates China’s control over Tibet.

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BEELINE TO THE FUTURE: The Death of the Open Internet

Robert Bee's picture

The Economist points out that the Internet for the past few years has been remarkably open, allowing people to create a website, communicate with anyone in the world, and view information largely free from interference by government or large corporations (http://www.economist.com/node/16941635 ). The open Internet has led to innovations like Wikipedia, companies like Facebook, and even the destabilization of autocratic governments like Egypt.

According to The Economist, three forces now threaten the freedom of the Internet: 1) government 2) large corporations, and 3) network owners.

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BOOK REVIEW: "Hull Zero Three" by Greg Bear (2010)

Robert Bee's picture

Hull Zero Three revolves around the reworking of an old SF trope, the generation starship, a theme used most famously by Heinlein in his 1941 story “Universe.” The penultimate achievement of human engineering, Ship is a colossal vessel with three twelve-kilometer hulls attached to a moon-sized piece of rock and ice that it processes into fuel and materials. Creating gravity through centrifugal spin, Ship is traveling 500 light years for more than thirty centuries at 20% the speed of light.

There will be spoilers in this review.

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