Access : Visions of our far future : Nature

imagining our own future in a million years is “simple”. Forget the human race. Just think what intelligent species beyond a certain level are likely to be doing anywhere in the universe. You’re just as likely to be right about them as about our own future at that distance!

Kites could provide electricity for 100,000 homes

damn! My first reaction was “don’t be silly” but it looks dangerously plausible. One to watch

How recycling could keep your organs young – health – 10 August 2008 – New Scientist

I’ll have some of this as soon as it’s available too please…

A Plastic That Chills – Technology Review

In the 70’s I heard a rumour (conspiracy style), which was never substantiated and which I never really believed, that an inventor, who used to work for the Beatles, had come up with this amazing material or device which could either cool something down to -20(C) or heat it up to +200. The story had it that some big cooker manufacture had bought out the patent in order to suppress it and maintain their profit margins. Similar stories – which are somewhat more plausible – are told about earlier inventors of “everlasting” light bulbs. Fact or fantasy, however, this particular story might be about to become half true (the cooling bit at least).

More excitingly, I suspect this material is going to be a major benefit to CPU manufacturers who are having a hard time coping with the heat of their increasingly power-hungry processors. Being able to make an entire motherboard (and heat sinks) out of a self cooling material might have some major benefits…

US boasts of laser weapons plausible deniability – tech – 12 August 2008 – New Scientist

oh ‘king great! Just what we need a weapon that the military can use with plausible deniability. The very fact that they WANT such a weapon is precisely why they must never be allowed to use such a weapon unless we’re ALSO monitoring them with Trusted Surveillance…

BBC NEWS | Health | Running can slow ageing process

Don’t run any more. Knackered my knees and hips. But still doing half an hour a day on the reclining stationery bike and the catwalks whenever the weather allows.

Lab-grown tendons gradually fade to bone – tech – 11 August 2008 – New Scientist

this’ll probably sort out my wife’s knee problem and her damaged shoulder (which tends to dislocate too easily) and my own torn bicep. Let me know when it’s in the shops!

Cooking and Cognition: How Humans Got So Smart | LiveScience

I certainly agree with the basic premise (that cooked food promoted bigger brains) but I still prefer the earlier timescale I argue for here. That does leave me with the need to explain what further revolutionary change took place about 200,000 years ago which promoted the genetic leap to our current phase. I’m still working on that, but my favourite notion is that homo sapiens sapiens is the winner of the biggest “reality contest” in human history. The prize was the franchise on this planet.

Cheap, clean drinking water purified through nanotechnology

again, this, imho, is slightly off target. Of course, cheaper simpler water purification technology is a step in the right direction. But the real prize will come with they find a nanocatalyst (or something) which can pull the sodium chloride (and other undesirables) out of seawater at zero expense – which will mean we’ll no longer have a potential fresh water shortage…

Self-assembling polymer arrays improve data storage potential

10 years, possibly 15.

That’s how long I give it, before they finally stop messing around with ever smaller and cleverer assembly techniques and realise they’ve got the ultimate tool already. The “design space” of DNA has already shown that it is big enough to include self assembled fully functional computers with collossal storage capacity. That’s what human beings (and a few other species) really are. I find it difficult to imagine that the space does not include versions which also have vastly improved data retrieval capability and instant telecommunication abilities – the two major failings of the Darwinian design algorithm.

On the way to incorporating such innovations into our own organic selves we will probably first create DNA based storage systems which will dwarf this and similar developments, both in terms of performance and capacity. Especially when they can be hybrid organic and electronic/photonic devices which can benefit from, say organic networking prowess and digital switching speeds. Imagine a device with the storage and processing power of the human brain, the retrieval capabilities of Google on steroids and the whole thing running about 1000 times as fast as our own brains and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what’s just approaching the techno-horizon…

404 File Not Found | Defense Tech

Strangely enough, this problem, or rather its solution, might hold a major key to the security threat represented by government (and control freaks) generally. As yet no one has designed or implemented an even half decent defence against Denial of Service attacks.

In my view, there is only one potential defence and that is to transfer all significant data from centralised servers on to P2P networks with massive parallelism and redundancy.

But, in order to maintain the security and integrity of such data, it would ALL have to be strongly encrypted and only accessible by those who could authenticate themselves as being previously approved viewers of the data. That, in turn, implies highly effective and personalised identification and authentication schemes like the one I’m personally promoting. Ultimately, for example, we will need things like the very mind reading technology we’re discussing here, to be able to satisfy the system that we are who we claim to be. Any standard biometrics can be spoofed if conducted “at a distance” but it should be possible to design protocols which require randomised real time brain responses which, without full brain simulation, would be impossible to spoof. And by the time full brain simulation is possible, we should have figured out even stronger identification protocols.

The so far unsolved problem with P2P is not security, but latency. If the security and integrity of a system depends on transactions being recorded and available for validation in real time, P2P just aint up to it – yet – because it can take days for the data to be available, instantly, from any node on the network. This “latency” obstacle needs sorting. Fast.

The only thing I can come up with is a sort of compromise where, instead of having a true P2P system (which is infinitely scalable and can have any number of nodes of greater or lesser availability and reliability) you base the system on a large number (say 100,000 plus) of master nodes (which meet minimum specs and are guaranteed online 24/7 and to which minor nodes can always link in a single hop) which follow a “latency protocol” in which, on receipt of data, they instantly transmit it to every other master node with an “embargo” time which all have agreed to meet (eg “here’s the new data – it must go live at exactly 22.13 GMT” or whatever) and is always within the maximum time it takes to transmit the data and process it for publication on the network (hopefully less than a minute or two – they would have their own private network of permanent connections “outside” the web)

That kind of arrangement would
a) obfuscate the ownership and origins of the data – making it impossible, for instance, for governments to suppress dissent or embarrassing revelations and
b)provide too great a target for any credible DOS attack to focus on.

In a sense this is no more than taking the original DARPANET dream to its logical conclusion. Let’s finish the job.

Defense Intelligence Agency Seeking &Mind Control& Weapons

My certainty that this kind of technology is both inevitable and (under the right conditions) desirable is one of the major threads which provoked my Trusted Surveillance response.

First, it is obvious that surveillance technologies can only improve.

Second there is no obvious limit to the degree to which they will improve so it is highly probable (and prudent to assume) that technology will, eventually, be embedded in everything and, thus, capable of monitoring everything.

Third, this is obviously a recipe for catastrophic loss of privacy and a potential totalitarian wet dream.

Fourth, therefore we must develop protocols and ground rules NOW, about how we will deal with and control the use of these technologies.

Among the ground rules which MUST be established is that the individual human mind is the final line in the sand. Any attempt to invade it WITHOUT DEMONSTRABLY (i.e. audited) FREE AND INFORMED CONSENT should be regarded instantly and automatically as a capital offence for which the punishment can be death meted out by anyone in a position to carry out the sentence. (Just make sure – if you are the assassin – that you have an audited record of the evidence which led to your conclusion because the jury will need to see it if they are to exonerate your actions)

Another major control mechanism which must be implemented is that the digital recording of the relevant private data must be locked with keys possessed ONLY by the private individual being monitored. The data belongs to them alone.

Only if data is recorded in a public space (clearly labelled as such) can third parties access it, and their access is monitored 24/7 by publicly accessible logs and cameras which show,in real time, how the system is being used or abused.

You will note that no-one else is proposing these kind of measures or policies. Instead what we have on the one hand are a bunch of gung-ho developers and politically driven control freaks keen to develop yet more ways to control the masses and, on the other, indifference, ignorance or luddite opposition to the development of the technology.

If you think you can stop this kind of development you don’t understand the rules of the game. Time to wake up and smell the coffee.

Transcript – Barack Obama’s Acceptance Speech – Text –

You will look in vain for any committment to repeal the PATRIOT Act, FISA regulations or the MCA. You will find no pledge to roll back the Police State or introduce democratic oversight into the judicial process. So what, exactly, to Americans think Obama is about to change?

A complete imposter manages to pose as a federal agent and participate in a number of drug busts with routine infringement of civil rights without any question from accompanying local cops because (as the articles says) “Even when he recklessly and routinely violated suspects’ constitutional rights, the police who followed him around never thought anything of it. That’s how easy it is. His flagrantly illegal and incompetent behavior actually made them think he was real“.

Secret Spying Court Stays Secret, Rejects ACLU Plea Again | Threat Level |

the sentence: “there was no right for the public to know about the workings of the court” would automatically render any such court illegal and invalid in a democracy. Of course, America isn’t one so they get what they deserve until they collectively rise up and do something about it