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Mar 15, 2016
The 8th Annual Global 'Zeitgeist Day' Symposium Promotes Sustainability, Global Unity, and a Post-Scarcity Society Read More >
Jan 31, 2015
Promotes Global Unity, Social Betterment and a More Humane Society Read More >
Sep 12, 2014
Features Live Music, Short Films, Comedy and Art, Promotes Social Consciousness Through the Power of Art Read More >
Mar 01, 2014
Toronto Main Event and Beyond Read More >
Feb 03, 2014
A New Book by The Zeitgeist Movement Read More >
More Press Releases >
Apr 01, 2016 Host: Casey Davidson
In this episode Casey Davidson (Australian national coordinator for TZM) discusses whether the Zeitgeist Movement should interact with political parties, how to find a balance between making ethical choices and connecting with larger audiences as well as introducing the Brisbane chapter's amusing 'Tinfoil hat scale'.
Mar 20, 2016 Host: Jasiek Luszczki
This episode of TZM global is hosted by Jasiek Luszczki from the Polish chapter of TZM. Today's show features an interview with two activists of the Rotterdam TZM Chapter (Holland) - Anthony Jacobi and Robert Schram.
They talk about their way of utilising the NLRBE-like philosophy and code of conduct within the confines of today's monetary system. They present some ideas on how to move away from "business as usual" (working for profit) to "awareness as usual" (generating social capital) mindset.
Feb 10, 2016 Host: James Phillips
This episode of TZM global is hosted by UK chapter member and TZM education coordinator James Phillips and involves an interview with fellow TZM members Jasiek Thejester and Stefan Kengen from the Polish and Danish chapters of TZM respectively about the recent European meeting held in Rotterdam.
Dec 10, 2015 Host: James Phillips
This episode of TZM global is hosted by UK chapter member and co-coordinator of the movements global educational activism project; TZM education, James Phillips.
Along with other movement related news this episode includes a conversation with fellow TZM education member and Hungarian chapter coordinator, Sztella Kantor regarding her experience of taking the materials of TZM education into schools in Hungary.
If you are interested in taking part in this global initiative then please visit: www.tzmeducation.org
*At the time of publication there was an issue with our podcast provider, blogtalk radio. Therefore the show could only be uploaded in it's edited format to you tube at this time. The full version will be released as soon as this issue is resolved.
Nov 25, 2015 Host: James Phillips
Ep 178 European TZM meeting show - Rotterdam. This episode of TZM Global is hosted by UK chapter team member and co-coordinator of TZM Education (www.tzmeducation.org) James Phillips.
This episode includes an interview with the Global Chapters Administration Coordinator Gilbert Ismail regarding the upcoming European TZM Meetup in Rotterdam next month. For more information, please visit the following link: https://www.facebook.com/events/91743...
Also included in this show is a request for more content for TZM Global Radio. Please send pre-recorded submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conventional wisdom would have you believe that most people enter adolescence with a head full of high-minded ideals and a willingness to shake up the system. As they get older, however, they gradually begin to accept the status quo. For me, that process is reversed.
The older I get, the more skeptical I become of our current social model. Why?
Let’s start with this:
It should be of increasing concern to all Americans that there is an extreme disconnect between what Americans believe about man-made climate change, and what science tells us about it. That is to say, despite there being a clear scientific consensus, man-made climate change is more often than not framed as an ambiguous concept in the U.S. mainstream media. Consequently, climate change is generally thought to be far more esoteric than it actually is.
INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER 
The purpose of this project is to enable supporters of a natural law resource based economic model (NLRBE) to understand and appreciate the need to approach the education system in an effort to initiate the value shift required for a more peaceful and sustainable future to emerge.
Today I was reading The Zeitgeist Movement Defined: Realizing a New Train of Thought, again. I did so because I feel the need to express certain frustration on this/my social movement but haven’t found the right words. Also I didn’t want to make any false assumptions on its architecture, so I went straight to the source with a pen in my hand.
I went through the 9 pages that constitute the overview and extracted some notes I would like to post in here:
We need more films about the social, ecological and economic change!
We want to make one and you could help us.
In our Documentary "The Taste of Life" we want to show, that there are people in the whole world, already practicing this change in a great way.
From social symptom to root causes came about as a bi-product of ZDAY 2013 in London, in which all but the introductory talk featured exterior organisations and speakers. Each of whom seek to address a particular social or environmental issue closely aligned with the movement’s materials.
From social symptom to root causes came about as a bi-product of ZDAY 2013 in London, in which all but the introductory talk featured exterior organisations and speakers. Each of whom seek to address a particular social or environmental issue closely aligned with the movement’s materials.
Transcript below. Can also be viewed via PDF HERE.
Welcome to: “3 Questions - What do you propose?” This thought exercise is intended for both the average person, concerned about global problems – along with those who are still confused about - or perhaps even in opposition to The Zeitgeist Movement.
Peter Joseph, ZDay 2016 "Where we go from here" March 26th, Athens Greece [ The Zeitgeist Movement ]
Living life on the edge isn’t just a motto for extreme athletes.
Our planet is literally crawling with organisms that have somehow adapted to living in extreme environments, from the frigid waters surrounding Antarctica to mantle rocks thrust above the seafloor to crystal-encrusted caves.
Scientists have a name for critters that live in the most inhospitable corners of the world: extremophiles. Here I profile five extremophiles whose ability to survive in unthinkable places isn’t just a cool National Geographic snapshot. Each one has something to teach us about how we might further explore the solar system, learn about the evolution of our planet, or even advance medical science.
Outer space algae
What it is: Two strains of cryophilic algae. One is a green algal strain (Sphaerocystis genus) found in Svalbard, Norway, the other a blue-green cyanobacterium (Nostoc genus) from Antarctica.
What it does: The cryophilic algae—cold-loving species with special adaptations such as the ability to survive extreme desiccation—were transported to the International Space Station. There they were exposed to extreme temperature fluctuations in the vacuum of space, not to mention considerable ultraviolet and cosmic radiation. Not only did all but one specimen survive this extended stay in low-Earth orbit, but the Norwegian strains grew new populations. Researchers are now studying whether the long-term radiation exposure damaged algae DNA.
Why it’s important: Astronauts—or even colonists—on a mission to Mars won’t be able to survive on potatoes alone, despite what we might see in films like “The Martian.” Algae are a good source of protein, and hardier strains could be grown in special greenhouses, according to researchers at the Fraunhofer-Institute in Potsdam, which led the research.
The scientists at Fraunhofer also say that the ability of algae to survive—and even thrive—in space could bolster theories that life on Earth originated from space. The concept, known as panspermia, suggests that the seeds of life rode to the planet on meteorites.
What it is: Paenibacillus sp. LC231 is a bacteria found in Lechuguilla Cave, located within Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, where it has enjoyed a lightless existence for at least four million years.
What it does: The Lechuguilla bacteria has shown http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms13803 ">resistance to most antibiotics used today, including drugs of last resort, such as daptomycin, according to research published in Nature Communications. The researchers found that Paenibacillus is resistant to 18 different antibiotics. Its defense mechanisms are identical to similar species found in soils. That means the genetic basis for antibiotic resistance existed well before humans started using drugs to treat disease.
Why it’s important: The researchers identified five resistant elements, which they now realize are widespread, that could become pathogenic. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the discovery gives scientists time to develop drugs to overcome these different types of resistance—decades before pathogens ever become dangerous.
“The diversity of antibiotic resistance and its prevalence in microbes across the globe should be humbling to everyone who uses these lifesaving drugs,” says Gerry Wright, co-author on the paper and scientific director of McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research, in a https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/mu-seb120616.php ">press release.
What it is: Dormant microbes that have been locked inside giant crystals of the Naica cave system in Mexico for up to 50,000 years. Science writer Seth Borensetin wrote that the https://phys.org/news/2017-02-biologists-weird-cave-life-years.html#jCp ">40 different strains of microbes (along with a few viruses) are far removed from their nearest relatives, with 10 percent different genetic material.
What it does: That’s still under investigation. Researchers just presented their work at this month’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Like the organisms in Lechuguilla Cave, these bugs derive their energy chemosynthetically, chewing on rocks and minerals.
Why it’s important: Life in other worlds likely won’t be aliens with almond-shaped eyes, but microbes that exist on a chemosynthetic diet.
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39013829 ">Says Penelope Boston, director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, who presented the research at AAAS: “The astrobiological link is obvious in that any extremophile system that we’re studying allows us to push the envelope of life further on Earth, and we add it to this atlas of possibilities that we can apply to different planetary settings.”
What it is: A diverse microbial community found in rock cores taken from an underwater mountain, Atlantis Massif, which rises about 14,000 feet from the seafloor in the Atlantic Ocean. They were discovered during an international research expedition involving 13 countries.
What it does: Tectonic activity in the geologically active area has pushed mantle rocks from deep within the Earth closer to the surface. When exposed to seawater, these highly reactive rocks undergo a process called serpentinization. In samples of the serpentine materials, scientists found evidence for hydrogen and methane, which microbes metabolize to grow and form new cells. This is yet another example of life existing far from the photosynthetic world that we understand.
Why it’s important: The microbes of Atlantis Massif offer another possible scenario of how life might exist in other worlds. In addition, these microorganisms point the way to how life might have evolved on early Earth.
What it is: A family of fish called Channichthyidae that live in the Southern Ocean that surrounds Antarctica, where the average water temperature is about 28 degrees Fahrenheit. The high salinity content of the ocean prevents the water from freezing.
What it does: To live in such harsh conditions requires special adaptations. The Channichthyidae, also known as icefish, have antifreeze glycoproteins that keep ice crystals from forming in their blood. Many also evolved without swim bladders, which helps control buoyance in the water. To compensate, icefish have fatty tissue and little bone density. However, what really sets this family of fish apart from others in the Southern Ocean is that they lack hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen to the body’s cells. Fortunately for these white-blooded fish, polar waters are rich in oxygen.
Why it’s important: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3537155/ ">Studying these “bloodless” fish might offer many insights into medical science, according to polar researchers. For example, hemoglobin is a protein that contains iron, which promotes the formation of cell-ravaging free radicals that cause oxidative stress. Diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, among others, are associated with oxidative stress. Lacking hemoglobin, icefish offer a possible model on how to reduce problems caused by molecules run amok. Icefish can also serve as an example—with its low bone density—for studying bone development and osteoporosis.
The study of extremophiles isn’t just about understanding mother Earth. These organisms that live in impossible places may someday help us to understand new places beyond this planet, discover miracle drugs or even survive the hazards of deep space.
Special thanks to Steven Profaizer, director of communications at Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, and Kelly Siman, Ph.D Biomimicry Fellow at the University of Akron, for their help in compiling this list.
Image Credit: Fraunhofer-Institute
Humanity has come a long way since the very first cities began to emerge about ten thousand years ago. Today, places like New York, Tokyo and Dubai are centers of innovation and human progress. Urban projects globally are pushing the limits of engineering, design and architecture. Exponential technologies are being integrated into the very skeleton of human civilization. Above all, we are seeing an emergence of futuristic societies with an inspiring vision for humanity.
From the man-made https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Islands ">Palm Islands in Dubai to the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shanghai_Tower ">Shanghai tower in China, cities are home to the world’s most impressive engineering feats. They continue to compete with one another for taller skyscrapers, faster transportation systems and cleaner energy sources.
Exponential technologies are revolutionizing the future of infrastructure and disrupting the construction industry in the process. Dubai recently announced the opening of the https://www.cnet.com/news/dubai-unveils-worlds-first-3d-printed-office-building/ ">first ever 3https://www.cnet.com/news/dubai-unveils-worlds-first-3d-printed-office-building/ ">D printed office, and Amsterdam may soon be home to the http://mx3d.com/projects/bridge/ ">first ever 3http://mx3d.com/projects/bridge/ ">D printed bridge. With greater convenience, innovative design capabilities and reduced waste, 3D printing may dramatically bring down the cost of quality infrastructure. Given that funding has been a major bottleneck for enabling better infrastructure in many countries, including the US, this could be a liberating tool.
Another major force that will transform the urban landscape is the emergence of the Internet of Things. City-wide systems would use wireless signals to gather data from objects like trash cans, lights and even entire buildings. In a project entirely crowdsourced by citizens, https://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/08/19/the-things-network-wants-to-make-every-city-smart-starting-with-amsterdam/ ">Amsterdam is set to implement “The Things Network”, joining Taipei and Brasilia to become one of many emerging smart cities.
The applications of such “smart” cities are revolutionary. Many big players such as IBM and Cisco are developing data-driven systems for urban planning, transportation, energy, law enforcement and much more. Barcelona alone has experienced ahttp://www.techrepublic.com/article/smart-cities/ "> $58 million annual savings by using smart water meters. Imagine the potential if this kind of data-driven technology was applied to every city in the world, in every possible domain. City officials could plan for efficient energy usage, optimal transportation and minimal pollution levels.
Naturally, many concerns have been raised about privacy and autonomy with the overflow of information. Big city data will certainly transform official urban decision-making and even how politicians choose to interact with their citizens. While there is certainly value for the big data from cities to improve the lives of its citizens, it may also serve as an exploitable tool to private organizations and marketing agencies.
With the rise of technology comes increasing mobilization. Many prototypes of self-driving cars are already being tested in California and autonomous transport pods are running in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi. This increasing mobilization is expected both within and between major cities in the world. Perhaps one of the most anticipated projects is http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/11/10/500mph-hyperloop-train-will-travel-from-dubai-to-abu-dhabi-in-12/ ">Elon Musk’s hyperloop, a 500mph train that will travel between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, two cities in the United Arab Emirates 120 kilometers apart, in less than 12 minutes.
The increased connectedness between cities is not only a matter of physical mobility, but digital awareness as well. Dennis Frenchman, from the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, has said, “Digital technology has put a nervous system into the planet, so we can actually feel the pain in China. This is a global level of consciousness and interdependence that we just never had before.” It is clear that world’s cities are becoming increasingly interconnected, both physically and digitally.
A greener future
As climate change becomes a growing threat against our species, humanity is faced with significant decisions. Many cities are integrating multiple solutions that involve sustainable infrastructure, cleaner transportation and renewable energy sources.
In the realm of renewable energy, the price of solar power alone is dropping to unprecedented lows. The cost of solar panels is expected to fall https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/26/solar-panel-costs-predicted-to-fall-10-a-year ">by 10 percenthttps://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jan/26/solar-panel-costs-predicted-to-fall-10-a-year "> every year. In some countries, wind energy is a http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adnan-z-amin/post_10557_b_8600240.html ">cheaper source than coal. Many cities are embracing these trends and integrating them into their urban development. Copenhagen, the most eco-friendly city in the world, is set to be http://ec.europa.eu/environment/europeangreencapital/winning-cities/2014-copenhagen/ ">carbon neutral by 2025, leading the way for all other major cities to follow in its footsteps.
In Abu Dhabi, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masdar_City ">Masdar City is one of the first zero-carbon, zero-emission and zero-car cities. One of its many notable features is a 45-meter-high wind tower that keeps desert temperatures as low as 20C when it’s 35C in other parts of the country. This is a step towards climate-controlled cities. The city is also designed to be a hub for innovative cleantech companies and clean energy research facilities.
The “greenification” of cities is also being led by the emergence of vertical farms. These vertical forests aren’t only aesthetically pleasing, they solve a crucial problem. http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/news/population/world-urbanization-prospects-2014.html ">By the year 2050, two thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities, and as the global population continues to increase, more land will be required to feed them.
Vertical farming could be a solution for cities to grow sustainably, with http://ecoed.wikispaces.com/file/view/vertical+farming-+learn+more.pdf ">advantages like increased crop production and energy sustainability. Developers from many local governments around the world, including New York, Paris and Bangalore have expressed interest in integrating vertical farming projects within their cities.
Cities are considered to be the center of development. As technological growth allows for an increased quality of life, access to resources and inter-connectedness, we will see an acceleration in innovation. This innovation may not simply be technological, but societal as well. Research has consistently shown that bigger, denser, and more affluent cities are some of the http://www.citylab.com/housing/2015/05/tolerance-and-intolerance-in-the-city/394385/ ">more tolerant places in the world. Cities are known to be the places most welcome to immigrants, artists and institutions. Cities from San Diego to London are investing in innovation hubs, which not only create jobs and boost the economy, but also integrate the very culture of innovation into their communities.
Above all, cities demonstrate that any goal within the laws of physics is possible. They continue to push the boundaries of human progress in all domains, whether it be creative, technological or societal. Pushing these boundaries will undoubtedly have a profound impact on citizens’ mindsets. The prime minister of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, said it best: “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it, and execute it. It isn’t something you await, but rather create.”
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
—Arthur C Clarke
Medical diagnostics often feels like magic to me. With just a few drops of blood, doctors can quickly decipher a patient’s general health status—are biomarker levels in range? Are there telltale signs of infection? Are the patient’s cells healthy, or have some quietly mutated into cancerous time bombs?
Behind that magical facade, however, diagnostics lives and breathes technology. Most lab tests rely heavily on specialized machinery and teams of technicians to ensure they’re done safely and correctly. It’s a pricey endeavor: even the most basic equipment—a centrifuge that separates different components of the blood, for example—can cost several thousands of dollars, a price tag far beyond what developing countries can afford.
Without access to cheaper options, many countries stricken by HIV or malaria are severely handicapped in their battles against insurgent epidemics. For them, modern diagnostics might as well be magic.
Now, a team of Stanford engineers has figured out a cheaper alternative. A study http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/01/31/1621318114.full ">published in http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/01/31/1621318114.full ">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes a small, reusable microchip that can diagnose multiple diseases.
Here’s the kicker: each chip is made by standard inkjet printing, requires just 20 minutes to assemble, and the cost? A single penny.
“To the best of our knowledge, such a platform with similar functionalities, cost and advantages has not yet been reported,” the team, led by https://profiles.stanford.edu/ronald-davis ">Dr. Ronald Davis, concluded in http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/01/31/1621318114.full ">their paper.
“[This] is really a breakthrough,” http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2017/02/this-tiny-disease-diagnosing-microchip-costs-less-than-a-penny-to-make/ ">says https://www.scripps.edu/research/faculty/topol ">Dr. Eric Topol at the Scripps Translational Science Institute (not involved in the study). “And I don’t use that word too liberally.”
Diagnostics: from physical labs to lab-on-a-chip
When a disease like HIV or malaria strikes, not every cell in the body is infected. In order to get an accurate readout, scientists often first try to isolate the culprit cells.
Since diseased cells are usually a much smaller population than healthy cells, scientists often need to tag them with a special marker in order for the machines to reliably pick them out—kind of like sticking a reflective sticker on a night-time cyclist for more visibility. This step is long and tough: not all target cells get tagged with the marker, and sometimes the marker itself can change the properties of a cell, which disrupts subsequent readouts.
About 15 years ago, scientists began exploring the possibility of simplifying—and miniaturizing—the whole process. Most cells and biomolecules have distinctive properties—size, shape, density and electronic charges, to name a few. Exploiting these properties, scientists made dozens of specialized sensors that only capture bioparticles with a particular property.
When combined with microfluidics, a technology that deals with small amounts of liquid, the sensors were about to isolate blood cells, sequester bacteria, or grab onto various proteins and DNA molecules from droplets of blood and other biological samples—and the first lab-on-a-chip devices were born.
Almost immediately, global health advocates realized the potential of these portable diagnostic wonders for helping poor, developing countries. But they were tough to make.
“[These] platforms often require access to a clean room, sophisticated equipment, and highly trained personnel to perform…manufacturing procedures,” says study author https://www.omicsonline.org/editor-profile/Rahim_Esfandyarpour/ ">Dr. Rahim Esfandyarpour to Singularity Hub. “This entire procedure can take several days or weeks.”
The flexible inkjet-nanoparticle-printed biochip
To circumvent these problems, Davis’s team turned to a surprising manufacturing device: an ink-jet printer, similar to the one you probably have at your workplace.
The new chip, dubbed FINP chip, is a modular, three-layered sandwich: the top reusable layer is made of commercially available conductive particles directly printed onto a flexible polyethylene sheet. The bottom layer is a disposable silicone chamber designed to hold biological fluids. A thin insulating barrier separates the top electronics from the chamber.
Making the chip is an easy two-step process.
First, users can use any vector-drawing software—for example, Adobe Illustrator—to draw a customized electronic configuration. Because different configurations can be used for different diagnostic purposes, this step tailors the chip to a user’s exact needs.
Next, using any inkjet printer, the drawn electronic pattern is printed onto a cheap, plastic-like sheet, and plopped onto single-use chambers that can be supplied to the user in bulk.
Just like 3D printing, these designs may eventually be downloadable, allowing anyone with a printer to produce their own biochips when needed.
“Production only takes 20 minutes,” says Esfandyarpour.
Similar to previous microchips, the FINP chip isolates cells and biomolecules based on their intrinsic electrical properties. As proof-of-concept, the team designed a chip with two types of chambers: one that isolates cells, and one that analyzes them. They then ran the device through a series of experiments to validate the chip.
In one test, the team showed that the device could efficiently capture breast cancer cells from a fluid sample. Similar to most biomolecules like proteins and DNA, cancer cells have a unique surface charge. By manipulating the electronic field, researchers were able to steer the cancer cells toward a specific chamber on the chip and trap them there, away from all the other cell types.
Since the ability to pick out rare circulating tumor cells can increase our understanding of cancer metastasis, the device could help us detect early spread and potentially save lives, especially in developing countries, the authors explain.
In another experiment, the team wanted to see if the chip could be used to accurately count the number of cells in a given sample. Immune cell counts are often used to diagnose infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria, and traditionally done with a technique called flow cytometry that can cost $100,000 for the equipment alone. The penny chip performed just as well.
The FNIP chip is the latest win for frugal science—a field that’s bringing cheap, portable and reliable tools to doctors anywhere in the world.
You’ve probably heard of some previous designs: https://www.ted.com/talks/manu_prakash_a_50_cent_microscope_that_folds_like_origami?utm_source=MIT+TR+Newsletters&utm_campaign=51ae6e3194-The_Download&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_997ed6f472-51ae6e3194-153764309 ">a foldable microscope that costs just 50 cents, or http://www.nature.com/articles/s41551-016-0009 ">a paper centrifuge that doesn’t require electricity.
Davis and his team are now working hard to get their chip ready for commercialization.
“Any platform for diagnostics or other biomedical applications must go through several testing, validation and optimization paths before commercialization, and we'll take and follow it very seriously,” says Esfandyarpour.
But the team is optimistic that their device can make a difference.
“[We believe] this work will enable greater individual access to… diagnostic applications in resource-poor and developing countries,” http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/01/31/1621318114.full ">says Davis.
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-artificial-intelligence-predict-earthquakes/ " target="_blank">Can Artificial Intelligence Predict Earthquakes?
Annie Sneed | Scientific American
"Along with more sophisticated computing, he [Johnson] and his team are trying something in the lab no one else has done before: They are feeding machines raw data—massive sets of measurements taken continuously before, during and after lab-simulated earthquake events. They then allow the algorithm to sift through the data to look for patterns that reliably signal when an artificial quake will happen."
https://www.wired.com/2017/02/piaggio-gita-drone/ ">The Cute Robot That Follows You Around and Schleps All Your Stuff
David Pierce | WIRED
"The team’s first product is http://gita.piaggiofastforward.com/ " target="_blank">Gita, a round rolling robot that can carry up to 40 pounds of cargo for miles at a time. Rather than get you from A to B as fast as possible, it’s meant to get you there more easily. More than that, Gita is a way to begin to explore what the world looks like when humans and robots share the sidewalk. And, hopefully, to make that idea seem a little less scary."
http://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2017/2/15/14613878/national-academy-genome-editing-humans " target="_blank">Scientists Can Now Genetically Engineer Humans. A Big New Report Asks Whether We Should.
Brad Plumer | VOX News
"On Tuesday, the influential National Academy of Sciences released a 261-page report on this issue, titled https://www.nap.edu/catalog/24623/human-genome-editing-science-ethics-and-governance " target="_blank">“Human Genome Editing: Science, Ethics, and Governance.” It’s one of the most thorough looks yet at what’s likely to be possible with new genome-editing techniques—and why scientists should tread carefully. The report’s recommendations are eyebrow-raising."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/10/opinion/sunday/microbes-a-love-story.html " target="_blank">Microbes, a Love Story
Moises Velasquez-Manoff | The New York Times
"What Dr. Erdman’s research suggests is that the microbes we carry, the same ones that make us attractive to potential mates, also directly influence our reproductive success. So when mammals choose mates based on the glow of health, they’re choosing not just an attractive set of genes, but also perhaps a microbial community that might facilitate reproduction."
http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/15/14623572/nasa-space-launch-system-crewed-sls-flight-10-investigation " target="_blank">NASA Is Thinking About Putting Astronauts on the First Flight of Its Future Giant Rocket
Loren Grush | The Verge
"The current plan for EM-1 is to launch the SLS [Space Launch System] from Kennedy Space Center on September 30th, 2018. The vehicle is supposed to carry NASA’s Orion crew capsule—without a crew—into an orbit around the Moon. Orion will spend a total of three weeks in space before coming back and landing on Earth with the aid of parachutes. Astronauts would then ride inside Orion for the first time on EM-2, the second flight of the SLS. That trip isn’t supposed to happen until 2021 at the earliest."
FUTURE OF WORK
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/603465/the-relentless-pace-of-automation/ " target="_blank">"The Relentless Pace of Automation"
David Rotman | MIT Technology Review
"But many economists argue that automation bears much more blame than globalization for the decline of jobs in the region’s manufacturing sector and the gutting of its middle class... It is 'glaringly obvious,' says Daron Acemoglu, an economist at MIT, that political leaders are “totally unprepared” to deal with how automation is changing employment."
Image Source: https://www.shutterstock.com " target="_blank">Shutterstock
Today, most of us carry the world in our pockets. Global navigation satellite systems (GNSS)—what most people typically just call GPS—aren’t simply about sending geo-located tweets from our favorite restaurants. Countless industries rely on high-precision navigation, from agriculture to construction. The brave new world of self-driving cars and Amazon booty delivered by drone is largely predicated on all those satellites orbiting the planet.
The accuracy of these systems is amazing. The signals broadcast from US Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites http://www.gps.gov/systems/gps/performance/accuracy/ ">are accurate to within less than three feet 95 percent of the time, according to the official US government website GPS.gov. In reality, the signal is never quite that good. Local features such as buildings and trees can affect the signal, not to mention atmospheric interference. The typical smartphone is accurate within a 16-foot radius.
A consortium of European universities, institutes and companies thinks it can do better by integrating the world’s four main GNSS constellations. It’s called TREASURE, squeezing all these words into the acronym: Training, REsearch and Applications network to Support the Ultimate Real time high accuracy EGNSS solution.
The TREASURE team plans to integrate signals from the US’s GPS constellation, along with Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and Europe’s new Galileo navigation system.
This multi-GNSS would provide accuracy within just a few centimeters in real time.
“Although accuracy is at the core of our vision, the improvement we are aiming for is not only to do with accuracy—we are also especially concerned with robustness,” explains project lead Marcio Aquino, from the Nottingham Geospatial Institute, by email. “The big challenge today is to enable centimeter-level accuracy anywhere, anytime in the world.”
It won’t be easy. For example, GPS uses a different transmission system than Russia’s GLONASS. Signals from Galileo are similar to GPS but with slightly different carrier frequencies, according to Aquino. Not to mention that the various constellations use different time and geodetic reference systems.
Weathering the storm
One of the goals of the TREASURE project is to reduce atmospheric disturbances to the signals beamed from satellites back to Earth. Most of the problems occur in the upper layer of the atmosphere, known as the ionosphere, located about 50 to 375 miles above Earth. That’s where solar radiation from the sun ionizes atoms and molecules, creating a layer of electrons. Free electrons can interfere with satellite signals, especially during space weather events.
“The atmosphere poses the greatest threat to the success of robust high-accuracy GNSS positioning, whatever individual constellation you consider,” Aquino says. “The ionosphere, in particular, may be so disturbed that it can render these services pretty useless, especially during periods of high solar activity and in parts of the globe that are more prone to suffer with these effects, such as equatorial and high-latitude regions.”
Aquino explains that the ability to use the signals from the different GNSS constellations will make it much easier to monitor and measure disturbances, because of the greater number of signals probing the atmosphere. “The same applies for local interference,” he notes, “where the more signals you have, the better your chances of modeling and countering the problem.”
Interestingly, GPS satellites themselves carry special sensors that collect data about space weather. Los Alamos National Laboratory recently released http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2017SW001604/abstract;jsessionid=6A25F46287F985DE634ABAD8D0B64CCF.f04t03 ">more than 16 years of data in the journal Space Weather to researchers.
Carried on 23 of the 30 current GPS satellites, the sensors measure the energy and intensity of charged particles trapped in Earth’s magnetic field. The sensors take detailed measurements of the trapped particles, which form the Van Allen radiation belts, every six hours.
The measurements provide data on variations in the largest of the Van Allen radiation belts, including how it responds to solar storms. That information should help researchers develop models to forecast space weather—an important step in protecting the satellites themselves and the signals they emit back to Earth.
Going beyond GPS
High-precision GPS for self-driving cars and unmanned drones is an obvious application of a multi-GNSS. However, a team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) believe GPS alone isn’t the answer to reliable navigation for autonomous systems. They have developed a http://www.ece.ucr.edu/~zkassas/papers/Kassas_Signals_of_Opportunity_Aided_Inertial_Navigation.pdf ">navigation system that instead uses environmental signals such as cellular and WiFi.
They note that GPS signals don’t do well in some environments, such as deep canyons. Signals can be intentionally jammed and even hacked. This has led manufacturers of autonomous systems like cars and drones to add cameras, lasers and other sensors for navigation.
“By adding more and more sensors, researchers are throwing in everything but the kitchen sink to prepare autonomous vehicle navigation systems for the inevitable scenario that GPS signals become unavailable. We took a different approach, which is to exploit signals that are already out there in the environment,” says Zak Kassas, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, in a https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-10/uoc--ngn101316.php ">press release.
Using what they call “signals of opportunity,” the scientists are working toward building software-defined radios that can extract timing and positioning information from environmental signals. The project also includes developing navigation algorithms and testing the final system on autonomous vehicles and drones.
“Self-driving cars and many other applications rely on a combination of different sensors where multi-GNSS is definitely a major player,” Aquino notes. “Our main goal, however, is to make multi-GNSS robust and accurate as a technology that can be relied upon as the backbone of these applications, and therefore provide the means for new multi-GNSS-based ideas to flourish.”
A highly accurate multi-GNSS wouldn’t just be a boon to navigation on Earth. Deep-space missions might also benefit from a more robust satellite navigation system, though that’s beyond the scope of TREASURE.
NASA has already been working to improve the use of GPS signals above low Earth orbit, defined as between 100 and 1,200 miles. LEO, as it’s known, is where most space missions take place. The International Space Station, for example, cruises around the planet at about 250 miles. Meanwhile, GPS satellites fly in medium Earth orbit (MEO) at an altitude of about 12,500 miles.
However, GPS signals above LEO are much weaker. Several years ago, the space agency developed the Navigator GPS flight receiver, which significantly boosted the signals. In fact, last year NASA’s https://mms.gsfc.nasa.gov/about_mms.html ">Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission satellites (MMS) set a Guinness World Record for highest altitude fix of a GPS signal at 43,500 miles above Earth. MMS is studying the connections between the Earth and sun’s magnetic fields.
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/nsfc-nnc110416.php ">Now NASA is developing a new technology called NavCube. The name—and the technology—merges the Navigator GPS flight receiver with SpaceCube, NASA’s fast flight computing platform. NASA believes the combined technology has the potential to improve navigation to areas of space near the moon.
In addition, the technology might also demonstrate X-ray communication in space. NASA scientists say it has the potential to transmit gigabits per second through the solar system.
GPS: It’s more than just a cool feature on your smartphone. And the better it gets, the more we can explore the world—and beyond.
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
Go to any airport and you’ll see wearied travelers huddled around outlets leeching out precious electricity to feed their devices. They aren’t alone in their need for power. With more than 3 billion smartphones alone in circulation in 2016, more people are experiencing the frustration of a phone dying when you’re using maps in an unfamiliar area or just watching the latest viral video.
In response, consumers are increasingly calling for bigger, longer-lasting batteries so that they spend less time looking for anywhere to plug in.
But those days may be coming to an end, thanks to new technology from Disney Research. The company has developed a method for wireless power transmission where the only thing you have to do to charge your phone is be in a specially-designed room.
This means airport outlet mobbing may soon be nothing but an unpleasant memory.
The new method, called http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0169045 ">quasistatic cavity resonance (QSCR, works by inducing electrical currents inside a room where the walls, floor and ceiling have been metalized. The electrical currents permeate the room with magnetic fields, enabling power to be transmitted to a device’s receiving coils operating at the same resonant frequency.
In the demonstration of QSCR detailed in their paper, researchers built a 16-by-16-foot room with aluminum walls, ceiling and floor bolted to an aluminum frame. The metal floor was covered with insulating carpet, and a capacitor-filled copper pole was placed in the center of the room. A spiral drive coil was used to stimulate the room.
They were able to safely transmit 1.9 kilowatts of power to a receiver at 90 percent efficiency—that’s equivalent to charging 320 phones at once.
As much as wireless charging sounds appealing, concerns about the health risks of electromagnetic fields abound. During their simulations, researchers tracked Specific Absorption Rate, which measures how much power is absorbed by biological tissue, and ensured the value stayed at or below an established threshold.
Though the research is still in early stages, researchers predict they’ll eventually be able to reduce the need for fully-metalized rooms, perhaps by retrofitting existing structures with modular panels or conductive paint. Larger spaces could be accommodated by using multiple copper poles.
"This new innovative method will make it possible for electrical power to become as ubiquitous as WiFi," https://phys.org/news/2017-02-wireless-power-transmission-safely-devices.html ">said Alanson Sample, associate lab director & principal research scientist at Disney Research.
Besides making our day-to-day lives easier, QSCR could accelerate the progress of electronic devices by reducing our dependence on batteries.
Many of us probably don’t realize that the devices we are carrying around in our purses and pockets are basically big batteries with a chip and a screen attached to them. For an iPhone 7, for example, the battery alone takes up two-thirds of the length, over half the width, and a fifth of the total weight. Our phones are essentially designed around the battery, thus power is a major limiting factor for smartphone technology as a whole.
But what if our devices didn’t need big batteries? How would that change their weight, their design, and their capabilities? Rather than being designed for the battery’s sake, they could be designed for the engagement we want.
Augmented reality and virtual reality, for example, are power-hungry apps that would be much more feasible to use on our phones if power wasn’t an issue (just ask Pokemon Go players). Imagine if you could have a phone for heavy duty data visualizations. Or how about having triple or quadruple the amount of storage space?
Beyond our phones, think of the other power-hungry devices like quadcopters or Google glass that suddenly could have new designs with continuous usage through wireless charging.
Solving the power problem, then, is just the first step—deciding what to do with all that extra space will follow close behind.
Banner Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
Organ donation has saved countless lives, but could donating our personal data have an even more transformative impact on healthcare?
The potential impact of Big Data and machine learning on healthcare is only just beginning to become apparent. Barely a month goes by without researchers unveiling algorithms giving human doctors a run for their money at diagnostic challenges like http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/26/health/ai-system-detects-skin-cancer-study/ ">detecting skin cancer or https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/ai-matches-docs-in-diagnosing-rare-eye-condition ">identifying congenital cataracts.
The approach is http://www.nbcnews.com/mach/innovation/how-machine-learning-revolutionizing-diagnosis-rare-diseases-n700901 ">particularly powerful for rare diseases. Human experts are only likely to have seen a handful of cases, which makes it hard for them to notice patterns. But a machine can churn through every historical case report to pick up the subtle cues.
This ability to identify patterns in the huge amount of data held in personal medical records and lifestyle data collected by wearables and apps—like daily exercise levels, calorie intake and alcohol consumption—could not only help catch disease early, but also help personalize healthcare.
It’s well known that certain treatments work better for some patients than others. If everyone’s health data was easily accessible—especially their genomic data—it would be much easier for doctors to identify which treatments work on specific groups of patients and tailor treatments to individuals.
The same process could also http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/pharmaceuticals-and-medical-products/our-insights/how-big-data-can-revolutionize-pharmaceutical-r-and-d ">supercharge the pharmaceutical R&D process and academic research into disease. Being able to target specific groups of patients to enroll in medical trials based on everything from their genetic information to their social media feed could allow smaller, shorter, cheaper and more focused drug trials. Live data streams could also enable trials to be monitored in real time.
At present, though, understandable concerns around privacy and security mean it’s often tough to get hold of this kind of data. A http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cybersecurity-hospitals-idUSKCN0HJ21I20140924 ">report by Reuters found that medical information is worth ten times more on the black market than credit card details. Information about someone’s health can be particularly embarrassing as well, so it’s no surprise there are stringent regulations about handling health data.
While it is possible to anonymize data, it’s perfectly http://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2016/08/24/the-big-data-era-of-mosaicked-deidentification-can-we-anonymize-data-anymore/#796905704839 ">possible to deanonymize it too. Many of the most transformative uses of healthcare also don’t allow for the data to be anonymized–there’s no point in identifying the perfect medical trial candidate if you can’t contact them.
So while more than 80 percent of US hospitals and doctors have an electronic medical record (EMR) system, ultimately http://www.nature.com/nbt/journal/v33/n9/full/nbt.3341.html ">few research projects take advantage of this wealth of data because of the huge amounts of red tape surrounding patient consent.
This has resulted in a growing push to encourage patients to donate their data for the public good. http://www.personalgenomes.org/ ">The Personal Genome Project aggregates donated genome, health, and trait data, while https://www.openhumans.org/ ">Open Humans allows people to share data from everything from wearables to health apps with projects of their choice. Both are run by the Open Humans Foundation.
https://www.patientslikeme.com/ ">PatientsLikeMe lets people connect with others suffering similar problems to them for support and health advice, but it also offers researchers real-time patient generated data on disease progression and treatment efficacy. Others have suggested http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.15252/embr.201541802/pdf ">a model closer to organ donation to encourage people to donate their medical records after their death.
Encouraging widespread adoption of data donation faces significant hurdles though, not least how to incentivize donors to come forward. Datadonors, another service that sought to aggregate donated health data, closed in December after failing to attract enough users. Founder Dani Nofal told me they focused too much on the back end and too little on communication, but the https://github.com/wikilife-org ">source code is on GitHub and he hopes someone else can take the idea forward.
A https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269101036_Data_Donation_Sharing_Personal_Data_for_Public_Good ">study by researchers from the University of Nottingham found that while many were motivated to donate their data on the basis of helping others, the possibility of benefiting themselves was also a significant driver for some. This suggests proponents should seek to explain the beneficial knock-on effects of sharing your data.
People also need to feel safe sharing their data, according to http://interactions.acm.org/archive/view/september-october-2015/exploring-personal-data-for-public-good-research ">a report in The Association for Computing Machinery Interactions magazine, which means giving them control over how their data is used and by whom. In addition, most research proposals require informed consent to pass ethics reviews. Using data from apps and online services where users simply tick a box to accept terms and conditions is unlikely to meet this requirement.
There is a technical challenge too—open healthcare databases are only useful if they are easily accessible and their data is in a usable format. That is going to require https://hbr.org/2015/12/the-untapped-potential-of-health-care-apis ">open, standardized application programming interfaces (APIs) of the kind championed by the tech industry that would provide access to the information needed to come up with innovative new solutions to healthcare problems.
If successful, this kind of open access could finally put the enormous wealth of healthcare data to good use. Not only could it accelerate biomedical research and help doctors and patients make more informed decisions about their treatment, it will also open healthcare up to software developers who can bring new approaches to solving some of medicine’s most intractable problems.
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
Over the last 100 years, the world has changed tremendously.
For perspective, this year at http://www.abundance360summit.com/ ">Abundance 360, I gave a few fun examples of what the world looked like in 1917.
This blog is a look at what the world looked like a century ago and what it looks like today.
Let’s dive in.
One hundred years ago, things looked a little bit different.
1. World Literacy Rates
- 1917: The world literacy rate was only 23 percent.
- Today: Depending on estimates, the world literacy rate today is 86.1 percent.
2. Travel Time
- 1917: It took 5 days to get from London to New York; 3.5 months to travel from London to Australia.
- Today: A nonstop flight gets you from London to New York in a little over 8 hours, and you can fly from London to Australia in about a day, with just one stop.
3. Average Price of a US House
- 1917: The average price of a U.S. house was $5,000. ($111,584.29 when adjusted for inflation).
- Today: As of 2010, the average price of a new home sold in the U.S. was $272,900.
4. The First Hamburger
- 1917: The hamburger bun was invented by a fry cook named Walter Anderson, who co-founded White Castle.
- Today: On average, Americans eat three hamburgers a week. That's a national total of nearly 50 billion burgers per year. And now we’re even inventing 100 percent plant-based beef burgers… produced by Impossible Foods and available at select restaurants.
5. Average Price of a Car in the US
- 1917: The average price of a car in the US was $400 ($8,926.74 when adjusted for inflation)
- Today: The average car price in the US was $34,968 as of January 2017.
6. The First Boeing Aircraft
- 1917: A Boeing aircraft flew for the first time on June 15.
- Today: In 2015, there were almost 24,000 turboprop and regional aircraft, as well as wide body and narrow body jets, in service worldwide.
- 1917: On July 1, 1916, Coca-Cola introduced its current formula to the market.
- Today: Today, Coca-Cola has a market cap of about $178 billion with 2015 net operating revenues over $44 billion. Each day, over 1.9 billion servings of Coca-Cola drinks are enjoyed in more than 200 countries.
7. Average US Wages
- 1917: The average US hourly wage was 22 cents an hour ($4.90 per hour when adjusted for inflation)
- Today: The average US hourly wage is approximately $26 per hour.
- 1917: The first "super" market, PigglyWiggly, opened on September 6, 1916 in Memphis, TN.
- Today: In 2015, there were 38,015 supermarkets, employing 3.4 million people and generating sales of about $650 billion.
- 1917: John D. Rockefeller became the world's first billionaire on September 29.
- Today: There are approximately 1,810 billionaires, and their aggregate net worth is $6.5 trillion.
For context, Rockefeller’s net worth in today’s dollars would have been about $340 billion. Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, is worth $84 billion today.
10. Telephones (Landlines vs. Cellphones)
- 1917: Only 8 percent of homes had a landline telephone.
- Today: Forget landlines! In the US, nearly 80 percent of the population has a smartphone (a supercomputer in their pockets). Nearly half of all American households now use only cellphones rather than older landlines. And as far as cost, today, you can Skype anywhere in the world for free over a WiFi network.
11. Traffic (Horses to Cars)
- 1917: In 1912, traffic counts in New York showed more cars than horses for the first time.
- Today: There were approximately 253 million cars and trucks on US roads in 2015.
12. US Population
- 1917: The US population broke 100 million, and the global population reached 1.9 billion.
- Today: The US population is 320 million, and the global population broke 7.5 billion this year.
13. Inventions and Technology
- 1917: The major tech invention in 1917? The toggle light switch.
- Today: The major tech invention of today? CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology, which enables us to reprogram life as we know it. And we are making strides in AI, robotics, sensors, networks, synthetic biology, materials science, space exploration and more every day.
14. High School Graduation Rates
- 1917: Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school.
- Today: Over 80 percent of all Americans graduated high school this past year.
15. Cost of Bread
- 1917: A loaf of bread was $0.07 ($1.50 when adjusted for inflation).
- Today: A loaf of bread costs $2.37.
16. Speed Limits
- 1917: The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.
- Today: The maximum speed limit in most cities is about 70 mph.
Just wait for the next 100 years.
Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1917Boeing_Plant_1.jpg ">Wikimedia Commons
From time to time, the Singularity Hub editorial team unearths a gem from the archives and wants to share it all over again. It's usually a piece that was popular back then and we think is still relevant now. This is one of those articles. It was originally published https://singularityhub.com/2016/05/19/a-virtual-reality-manifesto-the-good-bad-and-the-ugly/ " target="_blank">May 19, 2016. We hope you enjoy it!
“I can’t wait to see the art that people make with this.”
Those were the first words from my friend Ryan after spending ten minutes in virtual reality. He’d just tried Tilt Brush, an incredible experience which allows the user to paint in three dimensions. Tilt Brush is a deeply meditative and powerful experience, allowing us to turn the space around us into glowing and shimmering works of art.
And it’s not just for tech obsessed uber nerds like me—Ryan is normally the first one to push back when I go on grandiose rants about the future of technology.
This time was different though—this time he got it.
A funny thing happens the first time someone gets VR. Their eyes glaze over and they start excitedly spewing out ideas for http://singularityhub.com/future-of-virtual-reality/ " target="_blank">the future of VR. If they’re a musician—it’s VR concerts where you watch your favorite band playing live. For sports fans—http://singularityhub.com/2015/08/19/how-you-watch-sports-is-about-to-ch " target="_blank">it’s courtside seats at the NBA finals. And for gamers, well that’s obvious. We finally get to step into the game.
The Face of the Devil
As excited as I am about the future of VR, it also absolutely terrifies me. It scares me for the same reason it thrills me—its power to create deep and intense emotional experiences.
“I’ve just seen the face of the devil.”
Those were the first words my friend said after taking off the Vive. Now, this friend is no luddite—she’s a gamer. In fact, she told me about how she used to be addicted to a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game, http://singularityhub.com/2015/12/24/sci-fi-short-film-uncanny-valley-paints-a-dark-future-for-virtual-reality/ " target="_blank">losing days and weeks at a time to the virtual world.
“This is going to swallow people up whole and never let them go.” That was her next prediction for VR.
Virtual reality, by its very nature, has a unique hold over us because it can draw us into any world and show us any scene. When you create a movie or a song, you are capturing part of a viewer’s sensory experience. But when you create VR, you cut them off from the real world and draw them into a universe of your own creation.
And as everyone’s favorite philosopher/superhero Peter Parker learned from his uncle, with great power comes great responsibility.
With Great Power...
Every aspect of virtual reality that makes it a potential force for positive change has a flip side. And one thing we’ve unfortunately learned from the internet is that if a technology can be used for something, it will be.
Corporations will create vacuous virtual reality skinner boxes which suck us up and don’t let us go. Fearmongers and hate groups will create lifelike simulations showing their worst predictions coming to life.
And even those with the best intentions will see their creations twisted and distorted, making it all the more critical that we design VR experiences with both intentionality and empathy.
Now let me be perfectly clear.
Virtual reality is a stunningly exciting technology, and I wholeheartedly believe that it will make us happier, smarter and more connected with others around the world. This piece is not written as a prophecy of gloom and doom, the goal is to think about the potential positive and negative applications of what we’re building and nudge it just a little bit towards the positive.
We’re going to examine three specific axes on which VR creators will be forced to make a choice.
- Do you want your content to create empathy and drive human connection, or will you build experiences that spread hate and fear?
- Does your experience empower the user with useful information and unique experiences or exploit them for their cash and their data?
- Does your game authentically create a fun and engaging experience, or are you slapping a coat of paint on some 3D models and using loopholes in human psychology to keep people sucked in.
It’s interesting to note that these three areas can roughly be categorized into different ways that VR is used and the choices that specific experience creators must make.
http://singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/virtual-reality-unleash-global-workforce-13.jpg ">https://singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/virtual-reality-unleash-global-workforce-13.jpg " alt="virtual-reality-unleash-global-workforce-13" width="300" height="200" />Empathy vs. Fear: VR Storytelling and Documentaries
The Good: Can be used to make us feel connection with others and harness the power of presence in VR to allow for unparalleled understanding of others.
The Bad: Hateful and fearful messages will be incredibly powerful in VR. Imagine showing a simulated terror attack before a vote on allowing a mosque to be built. The sheer embodiment of VR means driving fear and paranoia is far easier than other disciplines.
The Ugly: We can’t back away from telling hard stories in VR and some experiences will be unpleasant or disturbing. It’ll be up to the content creators and the individuals to draw boundaries.
The Bottom Line: VR storytelling is a powerful tool and like any sort of media, creators should be mindful what they are making. A more powerful medium does not mean that we should hold ourselves back or censor ourselves. But it does require an extra level of thought into the potential outcomes of what we are making.
http://singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/virtual-reality-unleash-global-workforce-11.jpg ">https://singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/virtual-reality-unleash-global-workforce-11.jpg " alt="virtual-reality-unleash-global-workforce-11" width="300" height="200" />Empower vs. Exploit: VR Marketing and Professional / Educational Applications
The Good: VR can create rich and powerful experiences that allow companies to create value for their potential customers in an entirely authentic and open way.
The Bad: VR marketers and salespeople can exploit our innate insecurities and worries and drive us towards frivolous purchases and poor self esteem.
The Ugly: The internet runs on data and VR produces exponentially more than web browsing. Our data will be captured, bought and sold. And to a certain extent, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, there does need to be stringent consumer protection to avoid abuse.
The Bottom Line: Within five to ten years, we’ll be interacting with brands through VR / AR for most of our major purchasing decisions. If you’re looking to capitalize on that, focus on authenticity and adding value rather than exploiting your buyer’s insecurities.
http://singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/alice-immersion-virtual-reality.jpg ">https://singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/alice-immersion-virtual-reality.jpg " alt="alice-immersion-virtual-reality" width="300" height="200" />Entertain vs. Enslave: Games
The Good: VR games are going to be incredibly fun, entertaining and deep. Games are already incredible art, and VR is going to massively increase their importance in popular culture and our day-to-day lives.
The Bad: It is incredibly easy to create soulless and empty games which draw the user in by exploiting a loophole in brain psychology known as a https://www.verywell.com/what-is-a-skinner-box-2795875 " target="_blank">skinner box. I don’t want to name any names, but gaining users for these games can be as easy as taking CANDY from a baby, allowing you to CRUSH your competition. In VR, these skinner boxes can be wrapped in colorful glowing decorations and create a world which is a feast for the eyes, heroin for the brain and containing no actual gameplay, story, fun or any of the normal trappings of a game.
The Ugly: Obviously this is a fine line. Some games are thinly veiled cash grabs. But the same underlying mechanics are used throughout much of gaming for much positive benefit.
The Bottom Line: Are you creating something that makes people’s lives more fun or are you trying to maximize microtransactions? It’s already true in mobile gaming, and it’s about to be 10x as big a question in VR.
Just as mobile has come to touch virtually every aspect of our lives over the past decade, expect virtual and augmented reality to do the same. VR is going to reshape how we learn, how we play, how we socialize and how we buy.
There are no easy answers for any of these questions. The debates here range from artistic liberty to acceptable business practices to the factors that make an experience valuable. It's something that VR developers, storytellers, investors and consumers will have to answer together.
The best we can do for now is realize the immense power that technology and media have over our stories, businesses and games—and think about the subtle choices we all make that shape these systems.
Images courtesy of the http://www.shutterstock.com/ ">Shutterstock.com
The world seems to be full of illusions—and we’re not talking about fake news from Macedonia.
Holograms appear to be all around us now. Long-dead rapper Tupac Shakur showed up at the 2012 edition of the Coachella music festival. Microsoft’s HoloLens seems akin to a wearables version of Star Trek’s holodeck, allowing its user to interact with 3D objects in an augmented reality. Startups like Edinburgh-based Holoxica can create digital 3D holograms of human organs for medical visualization purposes.
While some of these light shows are far from mere parlor tricks, none of these efforts are holograms in the sense depicted most famously in movies like Star Wars. True hologram technology is mostly still a science fiction fantasy, but earlier this year scientists revealed innovations to move the technology forward a few light years.
A study published online in Nature Photonics by a team of researchers in Korea has developed a 3D holographic display that they write http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/NPHOTON.2016.272 ">performs more than 2,600 times better than existing technologies. Meanwhile, researchers led by a team in Australia claimed in the journal Optica to have http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OPTICA.3.001504 ">invented a miniature device that creates the highest-quality holographic images to date. The papers were published within three days of each other last month.
Holography is a broad field, but at its most basic, it is a photographic technique that records the light scattered from an object. The light is then reproduced in a 3D format. Holography was first developed in the 1940s by the Hungarian-British physicist Dennis Gabor, who won the 1971 Nobel Prize in physics for his invention and development of the holographic method.
Most holograms are static images, but scientists are working on more dynamic systems to reproduce the huge amount of information embedded in a 3D image.
The difference is in diffusion
Take the work being done by researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).
Our ability to produce dynamic, high-resolution holograms—think Princess Leia pleading with Obi-Wan Kenobi for the Jedi’s help—is currently limited by what’s called wavefront modulators. These devices, such as spatial light modulators or digital micromirror devices, can control the direction of light propagation.
An imaging system with a short focal length lens can only create a tiny image that has a wide viewing range. Conversely, a system with a long focal length can generate a larger image but with a very narrow viewing range. The best wavefront modulator technology has only been able to create an image that is one centimeter in size with a viewing angle of three degrees.
It’s possible to do better by creating a complex and unwieldy system using multiple spatial light modulators, for example. But the team at KAIST came up with a simpler solution.
“This problem… can be solved by simply inserting a diffuser,” explains YongKeun Park, a professor in the Physics Department at KAIST. Because a diffuser diffuses light, both the image size and viewing angle can be dramatically increased by a factor of a few thousands, according to Park.
But there’s still one more problem to overcome: a diffuser scrambles light.
“Thus, in order to utilize a diffuser as ‘a holographic lens,’ one needs to calibrate the optical characteristics of each diffusor carefully,” Park says by email. “For this purpose, we use ‘wavefront-shaping technique,’ which provides information about the relationship between impinging light onto a diffuser and outgoing light.”
Park’s team succeeded in producing an enhanced 3D holographic image with a viewing angle of 35 degrees in a volume of two centimeters in length, width, and height.
“The enhancement of the scale, resolution, and viewing angles using our method is readily scalable,” he notes. “Since this method can be applicable to any existing wavefront modulator, it can further increase the image quality as a better wavefront modulator comes out in [the] market.”
Near-term applications for the technology once it matures include head-up displays for an automobile or holographic projections of a smart phone’s user interface, Park says. “[Holograms] will bring new experiences for us to get information from electronics devices, and they can be realized with a fewer number of pixels than 3D holographic display.”
For true tech heads, physicist and science writer Chris Lee, writing for Ars Technica, provides an https://arstechnica.com/science/2017/01/researchers-move-closer-to-world-where-holographic-displays-dont-suck/?comments=1 ">in-depth description on how the KAIST system works.
Optics for a new age
Meanwhile, physicists from the Australian National University unveiled a device consisting of millions of tiny silicon pillars, each up to 500 times thinner than a human hair. The transparent material is capable of complex manipulations of light, they write.
"Our ability to structure materials at the nanoscale level allows the device to achieve new optical properties that go beyond the properties of natural materials,” says Sergey Kruk, co-lead on the research, in a http://www.anu.edu.au/news/all-news/sci-fi-holograms-a-step-closer-with-anu-invention ">press release from the university. “The holograms that we made demonstrate the strong potential of this technology to be used in a range of applications."
The researchers say they were inspired by films such as Star Wars. “We are working under the same physical principles that once inspired science fiction writers,” Kruk says in a https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OItKLI1pofQ ">video interview.
Kruk says the new material could someday replace bulkier and heavier lenses and prisms used in other applications.
“With our new material, we can create components with the same functionality but that would be essentially flat and lightweight,” he says. “This brings so many applications, starting from further shrinking down cameras in consumer smart phones, all the way up to space technologies by reducing the size and weight of complex optical systems of satellites.”
And now for something completely different
Speaking of space exploration: What if the entire universe is a hologram? What does that mean for pseudo-holograms of Tupac Shakur? Not to mention the rest of us still-living 3D beings?
Theoretical physicists believe they have observed evidence supporting a relatively new theory in cosmology that says the known universe is the projection of a 2D reality. First floated in the 1990s, the idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms in which a 3D image is encoded in a 2D surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card.
Supporters of the theory argue that it can reconcile the two big theories in cosmology. Einstein's theory of general relativity explains almost everything large scale in the universe. Quantum physics is better at explaining the small stuff: atoms and subatomic particles. The http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.041301 ">findings for a holographic universe were published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
The team used data gleaned from instruments capable of studying the cosmic microwave background. The CMB, as it’s known, is the afterglow of the Big Bang from nearly 14 billion years ago. You’ve seen evidence of the CMB if you’ve ever noticed the white noise created on an un-tuned television.
The study found that some of the simplest quantum field theories could explain nearly all cosmological observations of the early universe. The work could reportedly lead to a functioning theory of quantum gravity, merging quantum mechanics with Einstein’s theory of gravity.
“The key to understanding quantum gravity is understanding field theory in one lower dimension,” https://uwaterloo.ca/news/news/study-reveals-evidence-universe-hologram ">says lead author Niayesh Afshordi, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Waterloo, in a press release. "Holography is like a Rosetta Stone, translating between known theories of quantum fields without gravity and the uncharted territory of quantum gravity itself.”
Heavy stuff no matter what dimension you come from.
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