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The Thinking Man on Postive Healthcare Technology

Posted on by jake Posted in The Beat | Leave a comment

Technology is generating some questions around fairness and how it will increasingly complicate our already messy approach to health care. Whether you are for or against certain new technology in healthcare this video clip is purely positive.

The Thinking Man discusses online video changing society

Posted on by jake Posted in The Beat | Leave a comment

Cameras are getting smaller while still getting more powerful and the improvements are only speeding up.  Aside from having better video of your latest show or family moment, having this much video kicking around is sure to change society in unknown ways.

Start with kids.  I have one.  I also have no less than 4 accessible ways to capture him on film.  Cameras, phones, laptops, etc.  Much of his life, and the lives of his peers is digital. 
How will the fact that he is a little Derek Zoolander affect him later in life?

Unclear, but I hope he doesn’t turn out like this…

With all that video kicking around, society is likely to get more depraved as every politician, movie star, and public person will be fighting off embarrassing video of themselves from years past.

The pool of people with no embarrassing videos loaded to social media sites will only become smaller. I believe this has serious ramifications for society at large.  Some good, some bad.

Think for a moment about politicians.  Part of the reason why normal people consistently rank their elected representatives as “crap” is because these are people who have been squeaky clean as they’ve aimed for an office of public life since they were young.  Or they had rich parents to cover things up for them.

More and more, people will be forced to confront their past, which they hope society will judge as youthful transgression.  Obama admitted past drug use.  Bush did the same but would things be different if we had a video of George W. Bush pulling a 4 foot bong hit in the frat house?

What about embarrassing Facebook photos and video of that night you got really drunk and your friend posted online?   What about video of you that was captured via CCTV or without your knowledge or consent?  When was the last time you picked your nose in public? Are you comfortable with what is out there about you?  If you aren’t is there anything that you can do?

The Thinking Man: Purchasing Your Future Body

Posted on by jake Posted in The Beat | Leave a comment

I want a new knee.   OK, maybe that is a bit dramatic.  I want my knee to work better for longer than it currently does.  How much longer do I have to wait until I can get a replacement that works better than the original?  A while yes, but progress is being made.

You’ve probably seen the Cheetah legs before but as this story discusses, the future holds some interesting questions.  Do the legs give an advantage and if they do,  what are we supposed to do about it?

If you look ahead, you can see that this type of personal augmentation will wreak havoc with how we treat health care.  We all know that our health care costs are rising but what happens when someone literally wants to become a six-million dollar man?  Assume for a moment that new knee exists.  It won’t be cheap.  Who pays?

For a guy like me who can still get around, this might qualify as a luxury purchase.  For someone who had been hobbled for years and is in constant pain, insurance will pay the bills.  Where does the line get drawn?  I suspect this will become a key consideration in the future.

The Thinking Man – New Video Tech

Posted on by jake Posted in The Beat | Leave a comment

I was at a show the other night and spent some time considering a bit of technology that I’m anxious to watch evolve: Continuous Video Capture.  Whenever I’m at a concert that I’m enjoying, I find myself wanting to snap a video of it so that I can relive that moment in the future.  Whipping out your camera can sometimes spoil the first version of the moment as you fumble for the right button, etc.  Without reinforcement, the brain spends less and less effort trying to remember events that are not actively recalled from time to time.

Would this technology be useful and desirable?  Earlier today my son was playing peek-a-boo with my wife and I.  It was the sort of moment that makes life worth living.  I had a camera nearby.  What to do?  I enjoyed the moment for a very long time, but finally caved and reached for the camera.  Of course he stopped as soon as I turned it on.  Is that moment gone forever?  No.  I will remember it, but it will fade.  Was it worth grabbing the camera for?

What if you had a camera technology that was so small and efficient that you were effectively
outsourcing your best memories?   It’s not hard to imagine a time when we are using more than just our iPhone cameras and film grade DSLR to shoot video to supplement our memories.  Whether it’s something like the technology in Strange Days or miniaturized cameras implanted onto your head something is coming.  Heck, it may become fashionable like animatronic pink fuzzy bunny ears.  I was at a different show recently where the venue announced that anyone taking photo or video would be kicked out.  Not an easy proposition in another 10 years.

The show was by James Farm (led by saxophonist Joshua Redmen)  and it was unlike any jazz concert I have seen or heard.  They claim to be influenced by electronica and rock, and they arrange songs structured in a way that will be familiar to fans of those genre.  Worth checking out. http://www.myspace.com/jamesfarmband

The Thinking Man – Neurotechnology and Fuzzy Pink Bunny Ears

Posted on by jake Posted in The Beat | Leave a comment

Previous posts investigated god helmets, flesh eating robots and what might happen if and when man figures out how to merge his mind with computer technology.  This is serious, sci-fi movie level stuff.  Man has often used science fiction books and movies as a launch point for the real development of technology.

We could be talking about HG Wells or James Cameron or any number of other visionaries who help us visualize and therefore materialize the future.

Who, in the name of Charles Darwin, came up with this idea?

You have to hand it to the pioneers over at Neurowear who came up with this obnoxiously silly use of a cutting edge technology.   In reality, this so-called cutting edge technology is now so cheap and widely available that the Japanese can find bizarre uses of it. The real story is that this technology is cheap enough to make use of but it’s currently still finding the application of that technology.

Even though there is a growing cottage industry of nutty uses of technology, expect to see some potentially useful implementations of this type of technology.  Here’s a recent example of using your mobile phone to dial with your mind.

The Thinking Man – Are they really just going to eat us?

Posted on by jake Posted in The Beat | Leave a comment

I saw this video clip a few weeks back and tried to park it in the back of my brain.  It keeps pushing back to the front.  As an optimist who generally sees the positive side of progress, the ramifications of this clip are somewhat troubling.  Man has made a consumer-friendly, flesh-eating robot.

Even if you are skeptical about this example, a quick Google search will turn up stories about government funding of battlefield robots design to operate on biomass.   The press quickly spun this fact into battlefield robots consuming biomass in the form of flesh from fallen soldiers.  The creators of the technology tried to point out that the technology would have some built-in sensors to distinguish one form of biomass from another, but isn’t the genie out of the bottle by that point?  Does your garbage disposal let you know when something gets “consumed” that shouldn’t have been?

Whether or not a biomass consuming robot or the mouse-eating table is real is not exactly the point.  The point is that we have arrived at the time when we can have this conversation without talking about some nebulous future.

Thinkers like Bill Joy and others raise serious concerns about what could go wrong with technology.  Over 10 years ago, a lot of time in the world of Moore’s Law, Joy wrote his hugely influential essay “Why the future doesn’t need us.” If and when artificial intelligence becomes self-aware, wouldn’t we be seen as a competitor for scarce resources?  This is a scenario that Joy and countless other sci-fi writers have envisioned.

I’m pretty sure that the group responsible for “Carnivorous Domestic Entertainment Robots” didn’t program the mouse-eating table with Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics built into the CPU. I always thought we were supposed to be wiped out in an Artificial Intelligence directed nuclear disaster or that the human race was to be used as batteries or something when the robot masters take over?  Are they really just going to eat us?

The Thinking Man – Singularity

Posted on by jake Posted in The Beat | Leave a comment

Surely you’ve heard of “Moore’s Law”.  It’s the moniker given to the trend in computer processor power that keeps our computer technology getting faster and more powerful, while the costs stay about the same.   Exponential growth is a powerful force.

Some people believe that the concept of Moore’s Law can be applied across a range of scientific and technological disciplines and that this exponential growth of technology has frighteningly huge ramifications.  One of these people is Ray Kurzweil, a self-described futurist, who believes that you might live long enough to become a robot.

Seriously.  Kurzweil believes that within my lifetime (hopefully, but probably not his), Moore’s Law and the convergence of a variety of technological advances will push humanity into strange a new places.

Whether you believe that Kurweil has the dates right, it’s hard to argue that technology isn’t creating some rifts in society that are only likely to grow.  Sure, we can Facebook and Tweet our way to revolutions, but what Kurzweil and whole groups of scientists and technologists are talking about is tangible, physical, hardware that will become part of us in the future.

Do you consider your iPhone or Android or whatever an extension of who you are?  If not, why not?   It contains personal, perhaps work related, account info, access to banking, and storage for all sorts of things that you can’t be bothered to remember. Consider that you’ve begun outsourcing your memories in the forms of photos and home videos?  What if your mobile phone or in the info contained in it was somehow seamlessly connected into your body through some sort of implant?

It’s almost here.  It’s called “Augmented Reality“and it’s a killer app away from splashing into daily lives.

I’m guessing that the volume of the ongoing debate about healthcare will only get louder.  How do you decide who gets the Six-Million Dollar Man treatment?

Finally, for a bit of perspective…think for a moment about what the recently discovered, completely cut off from civilization, indigenous tribe in the Amazon.  What would they think about all of this?