We are changing the way we build machines, so we may soon be able to build machines that are more like us. In the movie Prometheus, a work set in the future supposedly about our search for our own beginnings, one of the characters is an android named David. David is a lot more human in many ways than the human characters in the film.
Stephen Wolfram, creator of the Wolfram|Alpha search engine and author of the books Mathematica and A New Kind of Science, is known all over the world for his contributions to our understanding of computation. In 2012, he received a lot of attention for something else: At the SXSW show, he revealed that he had a more than 20-year personal computational log of, basically, the life of Stephen Wolfram. This included everything from every e-mail he had sent, to when he had gone to bed, to how long his phone conversations lasted, and much more. He then released this data on his personal blog.
While the world turned its attention to the frightening prospects of a nuclear catastrophe in post-tsunami Japan, another crisis was being dealt with, quietly, humbly, and with pragmatic determination.
Okay. You got me. I can’t really tell you everything you need to know about big data. The one thing I discovered last week – as I joined more than 2,500 data junkies from around the world for the O’Reilly Strata conference in rainy Santa Clara California—is that nobody can, not Google, not Intel, not even IBM. All I can guarantee you is that you’ll be hearing a lot more about it.
In Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think (Free Press, February 21) Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler offer a vision of the future that’s truly awesome in both the most traditional and modern understandings of the word; it’s as big as it as awe inspiring.
A space-based solar power (SSP) system capable of meeting the energy needs of millions of people could be “deployed within a decade using technologies that are today in the laboratory,” says John C. Mankins, a former manager of the Advanced Concepts Studies Office of Space Flight for NASA and widely considered one of the world’s leading experts on space-based solar power.
Sometimes an idea comes along that is so startling, well executed, complex and yet intuitive that it serves as both a perfect reflection of—and fitting compliment to—nature. And an idea like that can eat up your whole morning. If you never believed that design was an act of futurism then allow me to introduce you to Autonomo 2030, an integrated self-driving car system from Australian designer Charles Rattray.
In the next decade, the United States will use increasingly capable artificial intelligence (AI) to greatly reduce the cost of health care, accelerate research and development into new medicines, improve cars and roads to reduce gridlock, and even regain much of the manufacturing base we lost to countries like China, say researchers in computer science, robotics, and management. They claim that AI will soon change the work of doctors, nurses and teachers across the country, create entirely new businesses, and radically remake industries already in existence.
In this third installment of the 2020 Visionaries series [Part1] [Part2], we look at the future of the global environment and of democracy — two areas of concern that will increasingly intertwine in the next 10 years.