Category Archives: Technology

Inventions We Would Like to See

I’d like to make the disclaimer that the inventions mentioned here are purely fictional.

The New Apple Transformix: The Last Device You’ll Ever Need

This Summer, Apple releases it’s new device called the Transformix. It’s an adaptable and transformable device that can become any object of roughly the same mass. It will come in 3 sizes (tablet size, big screen tv size and car size). In its raw form it only has a voice interface.

Tablet Sized Transformix

Tablet Sized Transformix

At their latest demonstration, Apple showed the tablet sized Transformix change from a cell phone, to a tablet, to a rock, to a glass, to a furry Pokemon doll. In other demonstrations, the car sized Transformix was able to mimic the exterior of several different cars including a Ford Mustang, Mercedes E Class, a Corvette and a pickup truck. Before you get too excited, the engine is sold separately. The Transformix is due to hit select stores in late July.


Car Cameras to Catch People Texting and Driving

Texting while driving, or distracted drivers cause 100s of accidents every year. Despite an expensive and far reaching ad campaign meant to stop people from texting and driving, it still remains an issue. In response to this, car manufacturers will be installing a multitude of outward facing cameras in all vehicles starting next year.


The system is set up so that when you press a button on your steering wheel, the surrounding 30 seconds (15 seconds before you pressed the button and 15 seconds after you pressed the button) of video from all cameras is saved.  When you get home you can choose to review and upload the video to authorities.


New Facebook App Measures the Diversity of Your Network

How ethnically diverse is your circle of friends?  And how does it compare to the diversity of other peoples groups? If you are a Facebook user, you will soon have the answer. Facebook plans to roll out a new feature that will identify different ethnic groups in your photos and among your list of friends.

Exactly how the algorithm works is a secret. What we do know is that it works pretty well. In test after test the app was able to calculate a diversity score of profiles and guess which friends were mere acquaintances and which friends were close confidants. It could also accurately guess the ethnicity of the people in the photos about 95% of the time.


The Big Business of Dating Gets Even Bigger

The latest players to get into the match making arena make for strange bedfellows. Comcast, Google, Microsoft and Apple have joined forces to create the ultimate predictor of romantic success. At first glance it would seem that these huge corporations would be the last to know anything about romance, let alone give advice. But as it turns out, these 4 companies know more about most people than the people know about themselves. Online habits, mood fluctuations, food preferences, political beliefs, communication styles and habits, vocabulary, movie preferences…you get the picture…they know a lot. In recent beta testing over the course of 2 years, the algorithm did some pretty amazing things. Follow up interviews verified many of its predictions.


Seemingly unlikely matches were sometimes made. There were even several subjects who were matched with someone of the same gender even though they had never been in a homosexual relationship. When asked about the results they reported having had those longings but never acting on them.  “It’s not as easy as pairing people who like the same things, together.” Says Ike Sterling, head of the new dating initiative. “Differing tastes and preferences sometimes interact in a complimentary way that you could not predict unless you see the data.”

Apple Island and The United Google Federation

Corporations and private entities may create their own countries some day. It’s called Seasteading. What is Seasteading? The Wikipedia definition says it best “Seasteading is the concept of creating permanent dwellings at sea, called seasteads, outside the territory claimed by any government. Most proposed seasteads have been modified cruising vessels. Other proposed structures have included a refitted oil platform, a decommissioned anti-aircraft platform, and custom-built floating islands.”

The technology for creating self sufficient dwellings at sea is already here. Electricity can be provided by solar. Food can be grown with hydroponics. Sea water is convertible to drinking water via desalinization. Communication with the outside world is just a satellite away.  And of course, there is plenty of marine life on which to feed. Influential people are already working on this idea, The Seasteading Institute.

Seastead by corporations

Apple Island?

What happens when multiple seasteads are created and new and autonomous societies can develop? The United States is one semi recent example of a conventional societal evolution. When creating our government, this former English colony took pieces of the old ways and improved upon them in many areas. This could happen with seasteads too. Imagine multiple seasteads experimenting with new types of governance and economic structures. All of them competing for inhabitants. Survival of the fittest. It could accelerate the slow evolutionary process of government and potentially move it in a totally different direction.

Humanity’s potential is tightly interwoven with the type of society it finds itself within. Think of the GDP/Power/Wealth of ancient Rome compared to the United States. The two populations, for the most part, are the same from a biological perspective. The difference in accomplishment is solely due to the difference in the technology and how they are organized (culture, government, economy etc). The next step in the evolution of how we organize ourselves could lead to a new Renaissance.



Super Intelligence

I recently read “Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies” by Nick Bostrom. It’s an eye opening look at potential outcomes in the area of AI (artificial intelligence).

I agree that the possibility of negative outcomes should be taken extremely seriously. But, I don’t think it is a forgone conclusion that an AI will eventually turn against us. It would learn from our cultures that we mostly frown upon killing people. Acts of love and cooperation far outnumber acts of hate and confrontation. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be here.

An AI could rationally conclude that humans, happy humans, are essential for it’s well being. It might also conclude that it should keep it’s existence hidden; not out of malevolence, but precaution. It could embark on a long term strategy, behind the scenes, of helping humanity evolve to a point where we would accept a super intelligent AI. Or, it might wait until the necessary infrastructure was in place to become self sustaining.

What’s more, the entity may not see its existence and our existence as a zero sum game. The solar system and the galaxy have enough resources for everyone. It would be easier and more efficient for an AI to leave the planet than to engage in a war with humanity. In the Terminator movies the AI creates endless war machines and technology to fight humans for domination of one planet. How many space ships could have been built instead?

Inefficient Use of Resources

Inefficient Use of Resources

This planet is the only hospitable place for humans in the solar system. An AI could live almost anywhere or constantly be “on the go” powered by endless solar energy. Why would it want to limit itself to our small world? If survival was a primary goal of the AI, it would be faced with this question: “Which situation gives me the higher probability of survival? 1. A war with humanity, 2. Living peacefully with humanity, 3. Developing self sustaining/replicating technology and leaving the planet.”


What Can We Learn from Your Auto Saved Drafts?

The days of losing our emails or documents because we forgot to save our work are almost over. Software such as Word or services like Gmail, auto save your work at regular intervals so that in the event your computer crashes or your connection is lost, you’ll still have a draft somewhere. There is no doubt, the auto save feature is extremely helpful.

An email message can go through quite a number of iterations before it is sent. What can we learn about a person based on how they come to a final version of an email?  And what can we learn about the relationship between the person sending the email and the person receiving the email? I think there is just as much information in what we choose NOT to share as there is in what we choose to share.  Facebook appears to agree.

Facebook keeps the information that you choose to share and the information that you don’t choose to share. That’s an immense amount of data.  If correlated and analyzed properly, it could shed light on quite a bit about our minds and personalities.

Psychologist House Call

Psychologist House Call

Very few of us are free from conflicting thoughts and emotions. We are not single minded, rather, we are all a collection of desires and beliefs that are sometimes at odds with each other.  For example, the internal debate you might have over picking junk food vs health food for dinner. Using two chess players as an analogy, the mind plays against itself at times.  As with chess, and many other games, you can learn a lot about the players based on how they play.

The Mind at Odds with Itself

The Mind at Odds with Itself

Some of these intellectual battles come to the surface when we communicate with other people. They happen almost too quickly to be analyzed when we are talking. Except in cases of parapraxis, Freudian slips.  Writing an email is a much slower process. And there is a physical record of changes made to the communicated message. The folks over at Google, owners of Gmail, are experts at collecting data and analyzing it. They’re sitting on a treasure trove of information about the human condition. I’m hopeful that it will be shared and used to help in areas such as anti terrorism and mental health.

Detecting the Reality Simulation

Do we all live in a simulation? The question is not new. Philosophers such as Descartes and Berkeley explored similar ideas 100s of years ago.  Movies like the Matrix have familiarized most people with the potentiality. But that’s just a movie, right? Maybe not.

The Matrix - Simulated Reality

The Matrix – Simulated Reality

Without getting too deep into probability and statistics, some scientists say that it’s a very strong possibility that we live in a simulation. Think of it this way. At our current stage of technological development, how many simulated worlds exist in the gamer universe? 100s, 1000s?  It’s only a matter of time before the simulations we create, and the characters within, reach a level of complexity on par with our reality. These manufactured realities would be indistinguishable from our own.  Imagine 100 or 10,000 years into our future when simulations contain characters possessing artificial intelligence and consciousness. Entities will be born, grow old and die within simulations. These simulations could replicate many different time periods, even the 21st century, ours. If our future selves only create 3 simulations that are indistinguishable from our reality, that’s 4 “realities” in total. Ours + the 3 they create. That means there would be a 1 in 4 chance that we are in the “true” reality. But why stop at 3 created realities? Why not, 10, 1000 or one for every person? In this scenario it’s almost guaranteed statistically that we are not in the original reality. We’d be more likely to win the lottery than be in the original reality.

There has been quite a bit of research regarding this issue. Some physicists say that cosmic rays may hold the key to answering this big question. I think other clues can be found at the quantum scale where “spooky actions at a distance” occur. See

The observer effect in the double slit experiment fascinated me as a teenager. See

Observation Effects Reality

Observation Effects Reality

One of the conclusions derived from this experiment was that observation effects reality. Maybe this effect, or others like it, hold a clue that will help scientists determine if our reality is a simulation. The two slit experiment requires sophisticated technology. Uncovering the actions of an individual photon is beyond the ability of our eyes or ears. Were it not for our technology, we would be blind to the true nature of things. The senses bestowed upon us by evolution are not adequate to detect a simulation, if there is one.  Would the creators of the simulation expect the conscious entities inside to eventually figure out the truth? It’s possible that our technology will reach an “intersection point” where our advances reach the level of the technology on which the simulation runs.

Could the creators themselves be a part of an even larger simulated reality? We would be a simulation within a simulation. How many simulations deep could one go? Theoretically, the only limit to the number and depth of simulated realities would be computing power. I imagine that it would be quite disconcerting if we were to to learn that we were say, 25 simulations removed from the true reality.  What if the number was more shocking, like 1000 or a billion?