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From Here To Singularity

"The time from here to Singularity depends sensitively on the particulars of what we humans do during the next decade (and even the next few years)."

Archive for May, 2007

Technology assisted synesthesia

We have known for hundreds of years that our sensory systems are very maleable – and can adapt to all sorts of input very rapidly. Investigating the inversion of the image on the retina, George Stratton developed a paid of “upside down glasses”, that flipped the image delivered to his eyes. After 4 days of wearing them, he found himself seeing ‘normally’ again – through the glasses. I then took him another four days of stumbling around not wearing them to ‘switch back’ to normal sight.

Modern day Strattons are exploring more practical, and equally amazing readaptions of sensation.

For six weird weeks in the fall of 2004, Udo Wächter had an unerring sense of direction. Every morning after he got out of the shower, Wächter, a sysadmin at the University of Osnabrück in Germany, put on a wide beige belt lined with 13 vibrating pads — the same weight-and-gear modules that make a cell phone judder. On the outside of the belt were a power supply and a sensor that detected Earth’s magnetic field. Whichever buzzer was pointing north would go off. Constantly.

“It was slightly strange at first,” Wächter says, “though on the bike, it was great.” He started to become more aware of the peregrinations he had to make while trying to reach a destination. “I finally understood just how much roads actually wind,” he says. He learned to deal with the stares he got in the library, his belt humming like a distant chain saw. Deep into the experiment, Wächter says, “I suddenly realized that my perception had shifted. I had some kind of internal map of the city in my head. I could always find my way home. Eventually, I felt I couldn’t get lost, even in a completely new place.”

It’s only a matter of time until we all start using our bodies sensory inputs in ways they were never intended…

Wired 15.04: Mixed Feelings

Brainstem surgery on a three year old

brainstem surgeryThis little girl is three years old, and receiving a brainstem implant. This is not a cochlear implant – according to the article, the auditory nerve was not functioning at all, so why bother with it – just plug straight into the brain.

It was an operation that not only gave the three-year-old her place in history — she is the first child in Australasia to receive an auditory brainstem implant — but could pave the way for revolutionary advances in medicine.

Small hole opens Jorjas mind to a sound future – National – theage.com.au

Prenatal baby name search engine optimization

baby
If you are an online presence, having a high search ranking is a rather good thing. If you don’t show up at the top of the list, the chances you will be visited by a someone at a search declines logarithmically, which cuts you out of the running for whatever they are searching for before you even get your goods on the table.

Well, no one isn’t online any more: we are all ‘online presences’. So, the logical conclusion would be that search engine optimizing isn’t just for web sites selling crap: if you want junior to have that one-up on the competition, the extra boost that gets them the job/the promotion/the corner office, you need to get working with engine optimizing him or her.
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Charles Stross: Shaping the future

Science fiction writer Charlie Stross has given a lot more thought than most to the changes that we may experience in the next few tens of years. Ubiquitous GPS is going to a standard feature on most cell phones by the end of the year. We are nowhere near the level of information storage density that is feasible – the first half of our lives is being sketchily and disparately recorded – the next half will so well recored that our every waking second will be available for collation and review. People are already creating email addresses for their unborn children. So:

Meet your descendants. They don’t know what it’s like to be involuntarily lost, don’t understand what we mean by the word “privacy”, and will have access (sooner or later) to a historical representation of our species that defies understanding. They live in a world where history has a sharply-drawn start line, and everything they individually do or say will sooner or later be visible to everyone who comes after them, forever. They are incredibly alien to us.

Charlie’s Diary: Shaping the future

flickrvision

flickrvision Check out this mashup of the flickr.com and google maps api’s: a real time presentation of images as they are uploaded by users to the flickr photo sharing site.

flickrvision beta

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