Futurism

25 articles
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Technologies of literacy, technologies of memory.

"Millions of people, some my age but most younger, have been keeping lifelogs for years, wearing personal cams that capture continuous video of their entire lives. People consult their lifelogs for a variety of reasons—everything from reliving favorite moments to tracking down the cause of allergic reactions—but only intermittently; no one wants to spend all their time formulating queries and sifting through the results. Lifelogs are the most complete photo album imaginable, but like most photo albums, they lie dormant except on special occasions. Now Whetstone aims to change all of that; they claim Remem’s algorithms can search the entire haystack by the time you’ve finished saying 'needle.'"

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Why the future feels frozen in time, as framed by Marshall McLuhan (“We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future.”) and William Gibson (“The future is already here; it is just unevenly distributed.”)

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Libertarian, futurist, billionaire: a profile of Peter Thiel.

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A history of the divide between computing and language, and why we “define and regiment our lives, including our social lives and our perceptions of our selves, in ways that are conducive to what a computer can ‘understand.’”

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Teaching Ted Kaczynski’s anti-technology ideas.

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An interview with futurist Ray Kurzweil on the “Singularity” and the overlap between technology and spiritualism.

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On the Google conundrum:

It’s clearly wrong for all the information in all the world’s books to be in the sole possession of a single company. It’s clearly not ideal that only one company in the world can, with increasing accuracy, translate text between 506 different pairs of languages. On the other hand, if Google doesn’t do these things, who will?

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The idea that people would “inexpensively have access to a tremendous global computation and networking facility” was supposed to create wealth and wellbeing. Has it instead created a technologically advanced dystopia?

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A cautionary inquiry into the unchecked hive mind.

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A profile of Jaron Lanier, virtual reality pioneer and the author of You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto.

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On the development of South Korea’s New Songdo and Cisco’s plans to build smart cities which will “offer cities as a service, bundling urban necessities – water, power, traffic, telephony – into a single, Internet-enabled utility, taking a little extra off the top of every resident’s bill.” The demand for such cities is enormous:

China doesn't need cool, green, smart cities. It needs cities, period -- 500 New Songdos at the very least. One hundred of those will each house a million or more transplanted peasants. In fact, while humanity has been building cities for 9,000 years, that was apparently just a warm-up for the next 40. As of now, we're officially an urban species. More than half of us -- 3.3 billion people -- live in a city. Our numbers are projected to nearly double by 2050, adding roughly a New Songdo a day; the United Nations predicts the vast majority will flood smaller cities in Africa and Asia.

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Today, in the electronic age of instantaneous communication, I believe that our survival, and at the very least our comfort and happiness, is predicated on understanding the nature of our new environment, because unlike previous environmental changes, the electric media constitute a total and near-instantaneous transformation of culture, values and attitudes.
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Steven Levy’s piece on cypherpunks and Internet libertarians could not feel more relevant in the wake of WikiLeaks’ rise and the heavily scrutinized role of online organizing in recent revolutions. During Wired’s first year, I’d just gotten an Internet account and had somehow stumbled on the magazine. It became my guide to this hybrid life that we all live now, half-online, half-offline.

-A. Madrigal

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"I have the sensation, as do my friends, that to function as a proficient human, you must both 'keep up' with the internet and pursue more serious, analog interests."

An essay on technology’s reach into daily life.

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The next frontier of search is… everything. Voice recognition, image recognition, and why Google’s data set is one of the most valuable scientific tools of our age.

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The challenges facing the historians of the internet.

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Ray Kurzweil and the Singularity; when will our minds meld with the machine?

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Fifteen years ago, Sherry Turkle developed a little crush on a robot named Cog. Since then, the MIT professor has been studying our ever-increasing emotional reliance on technology. She’s not optimistic about where we’re headed.

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On boot camps designed to break kids of their web addiction.

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A tech neophyte looks for answers in Silicon Valley, “the last place in America where people are this optimistic.”

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Many experts believe it’s inevitable that in the coming decades, humans will figure out how to live considerably longer lives. It might not be a good thing.

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When spouses get upset because their husband or wife wants to be frozen upon death, it’s not because they find the practice sacrilegious. It’s because their partner is consciously considering a future without them.

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Clay Shirky, writing in 1999 on the Web eclipsing TV’s reach: “We will always have massive media, but the days of mass media are over, killed by the explosion of possibility and torn into a thousand niches.”

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Buckminster Fuller reconsidered.

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A growing movement is seeking a deeper knowledge of themselves through tracking sleep, exercise, sex, food, location, productivity. Technology has made it possible—but hasn’t taught us how to interpret the findings.