Thanks to a San Fransisco-based company, amputees can now use stylish prosthetics.
See on proto3000.com
Actual jet turbine created from multiple prints using Stratasys printers and then assembled. See it in action. So you’ve finally got your masterpiece finished, or perhaps not so much a masterpiece, but rather the tedious design the company needed.
See on blogs.solidworks.com
See on Scoop.it – Plastic Prototyping
Sharks, water, inhaling… I can’t think of a more opposite inspiration for this electric tool! But that’s precisely the cool-factor behind this handy shop blower! It biomimics the form of the basking shark’s strangely large mouth, inverting the functionality to push out rather than intake. Cleaning up shop has never been more creative!
See on www.yankodesign.com
Our visions of the future tend to be forged in the pages of science fiction. But for the past half-century, a number of prominent thinkers, activists, and scientists have made significant contributions to our understanding of what the future could look like. Here are 10 recent futurists you absolutely need to know about.
1. Robert Ettinger
Man Who Vowed to Live Forever Robert C.W. Ettinger, who famously said that death was for the unprepared and the unimaginative,
He’s known as the intellectual father of the cryonics movement. Physicist Robert Ettinger, who only died recently and is currently in cryonic stasis, was an early advocate of immortalism, or what we would today call radical life extension. In his 1964 book, The Prospect of Immortality, Ettinger argued that whole body or head-only freezing should be used to place the recently deceased into a state of suspended animation for later revival. To that end, he made the case that governments should immediately start a mass-freezing program. He also believed that the onset of immortality would endow humanity with a higher, nobler nature.
“Someday there will be some sort of psychological trigger that will move all these people to take the practical steps they have not yet taken,” he wrote, “When people realize that their children and grandchildren will enjoy indefinite life, that they may well be the last generation to die.”
Today, organizations like Alcor and the Cryonics Institute (which he founded) have put his ideas into action.
Ettinger is also considered a pioneer in the transhumanist movement by virtue of his 1972 book,Man Into Superman.
2. Shulamith Firestone
Back in 1970, at the tender age of 25, Shulamith Firestone kickstarted the cyberfeminist movement by virtue of her book, The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution. To come up with her unique feminist philosophy, Firestone took 19th and 20th century socialist thinking and fused it with Freudian psychoanalysis and the existentialist perspectives of Simone de Beauvoir.
Firestone argued that gender inequality was the result of a patriarchal social structure that had been imposed upon women on account of their necessary role as incubators. She felt that pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing imposed physical, social, and psychological disadvantages upon women — and that the only way for women to free themselves from these biological impositions would be to seize control of reproduction. She advocated for the development of cybernetic and assistive reproductive technologies, including artificial wombs, gender selection, and in vitro fertilization. In addition, she advocated for the dissemination of contraception, abortion, and state support for child-rearing.
She would prove to be a major influence on later thinkers like Joanna Russ (author of “The Female Man”), sci-fi author Joan Slonczweski, and Donna Haraway (who we’ll get to in just a bit).
3. I. J. Good
British mathematician I. J. Good was one of the first thinkers — if not the first — toproperly articulate the problem that is the pending Technological Singularity. Predating Hans Moravec, Ray Kurzweil, and Vernor Vinge by several decades, Good penned an article in 1965 warning about the dramatic potential for recursively improving artificial intelligence.
Let an ultraintelligent machine be defined as a machine that can far surpass all the intellectual activities of any man however clever. Since the design of machines is one of these intellectual activities, an ultraintelligent machine could design even better machines; there would then unquestionably be an ‘intelligence explosion,’ and the intelligence of man would be left far behind. Thus the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.
The phrase intelligence explosion has since been adopted by futurists critical of “soft” Singularity scenarios, like a slow takeoff event, or Kurzweilian notions of the steady, accelerating growth of all technologies (including intelligence). His work has influenced AI theorists like Eliezer Yudkowsky, Ben Goertzel, and of course, the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (formerly the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence).
Interestingly, Good served as a cryptologist at Bletchley Park with Alan Turing during World War II. He also worked as a consultant on supercomputers for Stanley Kubrick for the 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey.
4. K. Eric Drexler
Back in 1959, the renowned physicist Richard Feynman delivered an extraordinary lecture titled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom” in which he talked about the “experimental physics” of “manipulating and controlling things on a small scale.” This idea largely languished, probably because it was ahead of its time. It wouldn’t be until 1986 and the publication of K. Eric Drexler’s Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology that the idea of molecular engineering would finally take root and take its modern form.
Drexler, by virtue of this book and his subsequent lectures and writings, was the first futurist to give coherency to the prospect of molecular nanotechnology. Given the potential for working at such a small scale, Drexler foresaw the rise of universal assemblers (also called molecular assemblers, or simply “fabs”) — machines that can build objects atom by atom (basically Star Trek replicators). He predicted that we’ll eventually use nanotech to clear the environment of toxins, grow rockets from a single seed, and create biocompatible robots that will be injected into our bodies. But unlike Robert Ettinger, Drexler actually came up with a viable technique for reanimating individuals in cryonic suspension; he envisioned fleets of molecular robots guided by sophisticated AI that would reconstruct a person thawed from liquid nitrogen.
But he also foresaw the negative consequences, such as weaponized nanotechnology and the potential for grey goo — an out-of-control scourge of self-replicating micro-machines.
As an aside, Drexler also predicted hypertext.
5. Timothy Leary
Timothy Leary is typically associated with drug culture and the phrase, “tune in, turn on, and drop out,” but his contributions to futurism are just as significant — and surprisingly related. He developed his own futurist philosophy called S.M.I2.L.E, which stands for Space Migration, Increased Intelligence, and Life Extension. These ideas developed out of Leary’s life-long interest in seeing humanity evolve beyond its outdated morality, which would prove to be highly influential within certain segments of the transhumanist community.
As a futurist, Leary is also important in that he was an early advocate for cognitive liberty and potential for neurodiversity. Through his own brand of psychedelic futurism, he argued that we have the right to modify our minds and create our own psychological experiences. He believed that each psychological modality — no matter how bizarre or unconventional — could still be ascribed a certain value. What’s more, given the extreme nature of certain psychedelic experiences, he also demonstrated the potential for human consciousness to function beyond what’s considered normal.More.
6. Donna Haraway
Donna Haraway made a name for herself after the publication of her 1984 essay, “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s.” At the time, it was seen as a reaction to the rise of anti-technological ecofeminism, but it has since been interpreted and reinterpreted by everyone from postmodernist lefties through to transhumanist postgenderists.
Referring to Haraway as a Cyborgian Socialist-Feminist, the futurist and sociologist James Hughes describes her legacy this way:
Haraway argued that it was precisely in the eroding boundary between human beings and machines, and between women and machines in particular, that we can find liberation from the old patriarchal dualisms. Haraway says she would rather be a cyborg than a goddess, and proposes that the cyborg could be the liberatory mythos for women. This essay, and Haraway’s subsequent writings, have inspired a new cultural studies sub-discipline of “cyborgology,” made up of feminist culture and science fiction critics, exploring cyborgs and the woman-machine interface in various permutations.
And as Wired’s Hari Kunzru noted, “Sociologists and academics from around the world have taken her lead and come to the same conclusion about themselves. In terms of the general shift from thinking of individuals as isolated from the “world” to thinking of them as nodes on networks, the 1990s may well be remembered as the beginning of the cyborg era.”
7. Peter Singer
He’s primarily regarded as a philosopher, ethicist, and animal rights advocate, but Princeton’s Peter Singer has also made a significant impact to futurist discourse — albeit it through rather unconventional channels.
Singer, as a utilitarian, social progressive, and personhood-centered ethicist, has argued that the suffering of animals, especially apes and large mammals, should be put on par with the suffering of children and developmentally disabled adults. To that end, he founded the Great Ape Project, an initiative that seeks to confer basic legal rights to non-human great apes, namely chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans. It’s a precursor to my own Rights of Non-Human Persons Program, which also includes dolphins, whales, elephants — and makes provisions for artificial intelligence. Singer has also suggested that chickens be genetically engineered so that they experience less suffering.
And in 2001, Singer’s A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation argued that there is a biological basis for human selfishness and hierarchy — one that has thwarted our attempts at egalitarian reform. What’s needed, says Singer, is the application of new genetic and neurological sciences to identify and modify the aspects of human nature that cause conflict and competition — what today would be regarded as moral enhancement. He supports voluntary genetic improvement, but rejects coercive eugenic pseudo-science.
8. Freeman Dyson
Theoretical physicist and mathematician Freeman Dyson is one of the first thinkers to consider the potential for megascale engineering projects.
His 1959 paper, “Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation,” outlined a way for an advanced civilization to utilize all of the energy radiated by their sun — an idea that has since inspired other technologists to speculate about similar projects, like Matrioshka and J-Brains.
9. Nick Bostrom
Swedish philosopher and neuroscientist Nick Bostrom is one of the finest futurists in the business, who is renowned for taking heady concepts to the next level. He has suggested, for example, that we may be living in a simulation, and that an artificial superintelligence may eventually take over the world — if not destroy us all together. And indeed, one of his primary concerns is in assessing the potential for existential risks. An advocate of transhumanism and human enhancement, he co-founded the World Transhumanist Association in 1998 (now Humanity+), and currently runs the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford.
10. Aubrey de Grey
Love him or hate him, gerontologist Aubrey de Grey has revolutionized the way we look at human aging.
He’s an advocate of radical life extension who believes that the application of advanced rejuvenation techniques may help many humans alive today live exceptionally long lives. What makes de Grey particularly unique is that he’s the first gerontologist to put together an actual action plan for combating aging; he’s one of the first thinkers to conceptualize aging as a disease unto itself. Rather than looking at the aging process as something that’s inexorable or overly complicated, his macro-approach (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) consists of a collection of proposed techniques that would work to not just rejuvenate the human body, but to stop aging altogether.
Back in 2006, MIT’s Technology Review offered $20,000 to any molecular biologist who could demonstrate that de Grey’s SENS is “so wrong that it was unworthy of learned debate.” No one was able to claim the prize. But a 2005 EMBO report concluded that none of his therapies “has ever been shown to extend the lifespan of any organism, let alone humans.” Regardless of the efficacy of de Grey’s approach, he represents the first generation of gerontologists to dedicate their work to the problem that is human aging. Moreover, he’s given voice to the burgeoning radical life extension movement.
See on io9.com
The Russian multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov wants us all to live forever, our minds inside avatars. And he is spending a bundle to try to make his colossal dream happen.
GET right up close to Dmitry Itskov and sniff all you like — you will not pick up even the faintest hint of crazy. He is soft-spoken and a bit shy, but expansive once he gets talking, and endearingly mild-mannered. He never seems ruffled, no matter what question you ask. Even if you ask the obvious one, which he has encountered more than a few times since 2011, when he started “this project,” as he sometimes calls it.
Namely: Are you insane?
“I hear that often,” he said with a smile, over lunch one recent afternoon in Manhattan. “There are quotes from people like Arthur C. Clarke and Gandhi saying that when people come up with new ideas they’re called ‘nuts.’ Then everybody starts believing in the idea and nobody can remember a time when it seemed strange.”
It is hard to imagine a day when the ideas championed by Mr. Itskov, 32, a Russian multimillionaire and former online media magnate, will not seem strange, or at least far-fetched and unfeasible. His project, called the 2045 Initiative, for the year he hopes it is completed, envisions the mass production of lifelike, low-cost avatars that can be uploaded with the contents of a human brain, complete with all the particulars of consciousness and personality.
What Mr. Itskov is striving for makes wearable computers, like Google Glass, seem as about as futuristic as Lincoln Logs. This would be a digital copy of your mind in a nonbiological carrier, a version of a fully sentient person that could live for hundreds or thousands of years. Or longer. Mr. Itskov unabashedly drops the word “immortality” into conversation.
Yes, we have seen this movie and, yes, it always leads to evil robots enslaving humanity, the Earth reduced to smoldering ruins. And it’s quite possible that Mr. Itskov’s plans, in the fullness of time, will prove to be nothing more than sci-fi bunk.
But he has the attention, and in some cases the avid support, of august figures at Harvard, M.I.T. and Berkeley and leaders in fields like molecular genetics, neuroprosthetics and other realms that you’ve probably never heard of. Roughly 30 speakers from these and other disciplines will appear at the second annual 2045 Global Future Congress on June 15 and 16 at Alice Tully Hall, in Lincoln Center in Manhattan.
Though billed as a congress, the event is more like a showcase and conference that is open to the public, with general admission tickets starting at $750. (About 400 tickets, roughly half the total available, have been sold so far.) Attendees will hear people like Sir Roger Penrose, an emeritus professor of mathematical physics at Oxford, who appears on the 2045.com Web site with a video teaser about “the quantum nature of consciousness,” and George M. Church, a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School, whose video on the site concerns “brain healthspan extension.”
As these videos suggest, scientists are taking tiny, incremental steps toward melding humans and machine all the time. Ray Kurzweil, the futurist and now Google’s director of engineering, argued in “The Singularity Is Near,” a 2005 book, that technology is advancing exponentially and that “human life will be irreversibly transformed” to the point that there will be no difference between “human and machine or between physical and virtual reality.”
Mr. Kurzweil was projecting based on the scientific and intellectual ferment of the time. And technological achievements have continued their march since he wrote the book — from creating computers that can that can outplay humans (like Watson, the “Jeopardy” winner from I.B.M.) to technology that tracks a game player’s heartbeat and perhaps his excitement (like the new Kinect) to digital tools for those with disabilities (like brain implants that can help quadriplegics move robotic arms).
But most researchers do not aspire to upload our minds to cyborgs; even in this crowd, the concept is a little out there. Academics seem to regard Mr. Itskov as sincere and well-intentioned, and if he wants play global cheerleader for fields that generally toil in obscurity, fine. Ask participants in the 2045 conference if Mr. Itskov’s dreams could ultimately be realized and you’ll hear everything from lukewarm versions of “maybe” to flat-out enthusiasm.
“I have a rule against saying something is impossible unless it violates laws of physics,” Professor Church says, adding about Mr. Itskov: “I just think that there’s a lot of dots that aren’t connected in his plans. It’s not a real road map.”
Martine A. Rothblatt, another speaker at the coming conference and founder of United Therapeutics, a biotech company that makes cardiovascular products, sounds more optimistic.
“This is no more wild than in the early ‘60s, when we saw the advent of liver and kidney transplants,” Ms. Rothblatt says. “People said at the time, ‘This is totally crazy.’ Now, about 400 people have organs transplanted every day.”
See on www.nytimes.com
A super efficient light and practical vehicle .. conceptualised and created by Sanjay Dastoor. – Imagine an electric vehicle that can get you to work — or anywhere in a six-mile radius — quickly, without traffic frustrations or gasoline. Now imagine you can pick it up and carry it with you. Yes, this souped-up skateboard could change the face of morning commutes.
find them at http://www.boostedboards.com/
See on www.youtube.com
A short film about custom motorcycle engineer shinya kimura @ chabott engineering, directed by Henrik Hansen www.henrikhansen.net, shot on the Canon 5D and 7D.
You can feel the passion of making things from scratch. Very inspirational clip.
See on vimeo.com