Learning About the Future From 24 February To 20 April

22 April 2012

On 20 April 02012 I gave my “Learning About the Future in 50 Minutes” for a second time. I thought it went well, but only ten people were in attendance. I gave this talk for the first time 56 days earlier on 24 February 02012. I created a web page to capture what I’ve been learning over the span of the last 56 days.

56 Days Since My First “Learning About the Future in 50 Minutes” Talk


Why HPC? Weather Prediction is One of the Many Whys

16 April 2012

Inevitably, when I speak about HPC (supercomputing [petaflops and exaflops], visualization systems, Infinite Computing, etc.), I am asked the following question: Why? (i.e. Why as in why do we need so many flops?) My response always starts with “weather forecasting…” with an emphasis on forecasting such things as hurricanes and tornadoes. Accurate storm predictions can save lives.

The following is a headline from the Friday, 13 April 02012, Arizona Republic: Saturday storms ‘life threatening’.

“We’re quite sure tomorrow will be a very busy and dangerous day in terms of large swathes of central and southern plains.” — National Weather Service (NOAA.gov) via the Arizona Republic

Various news sources reported the following.

National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., which specializes in tornado forecasting, took the unusual step of warning people more than 24 hours in advance of a possible “high-end, life-threatening event.”

The predictions ended up being extremely accurate: Tornadoes hit the midwest part of the United States hard on Saturday and Sunday.

The accuracy of weather forecasting is important because it can save lives. But right now the accuracy is critically important because of the need to establish trust among the populous.

The ‘C’ in SCREAMers

13 April 2012

The STEM and STEAM acronyms have become popular acronyms here in the early part of the 21st century. [If I’ve said this n times, I’ve seen it ++n times.]

I’ve never liked the STEM acronym. The first time I saw it I immediately asked “Where’s the Computing?” [And this is said out loud mimicking the way the old Wendy’s lady said “Where’s the Beef?” in those old Wendy’s commercials.] The same “Where’s the Computing?” question applies to the STEAM acronym. Sometime not that long ago I subjected the STEM and STEAM acronyms to the following question: “Where’s the Robotics?”

21st STEM and STEAM depend on Computing, so I originally proposed changing STEM and STEAM to CSTEM and CSTEAM, respectively. There three immediate problems: (0) CSTEM and CSTEAM are not really acronyms. (1) STEM and STEAM are too embedded in our society to change them (i.e. they’re immutable). (2) Where’s the Robotics?

Problem (1) might be impossible to repair, so I’m going to ignore that it exists. Problems (0) and (2) are eliminated with use of the SCREAM acronym. Let the Technology morph into technologies and bury it in the sciences (e.g. biotechnology and nanotechnology), the computing, the robotics, the engineering, the art and the mathematics.

I recently used STEMers and STEAMers to refer to scientists, technologists, engineers, artists, and mathematicians. SCREAMers include those plus roboticists and… oops… computerists? computists? compueers? computicians? computerologists? In those infamous grunts of Homer Simpson… D’oh! Hmm… It would be fun to be able to rewind to when there were no non-human computers and refer to the ‘C’ in SCREAMers as computers. SCREAMers are scientists, computers [humans], roboticists, engineers, artists, and mathematicians.

The ‘C’omputing in SCREAM includes both human and non-human computers. 21st century STEM, STEAM and SCREAM depend on all of us being “computers.”

The following was copied from Wikipedia.org…

The first use of the word “computer” was recorded in 1613, referring to a person who carried out calculations, or computations, and the word continued with the same meaning until the middle of the 20th century. From the end of the 19th century the word began to take on its more familiar meaning, a machine that carries out computations.

Ubiquitous Sensing I Get, But What’s Nanodata?

11 April 2012

The Computing Trend that Will Change Everything had the sub-title “Computing isn’t just getting cheaper. It’s becoming more energy efficient. That means a world populated by ubiquitous sensors and streams of nanodata.

Ubiquitous sensors imply streams of data. That I get. But what’s nanodata?

Harvesting background energy flows, including ambient light, motion, or heat, opens up the possibility of mobile sensors operating indefinitely with no external power source, and that means an explosion of available data.

An “explosion of data” implies to me yottadata (as in yottagoo). Again, what’s nanodata?

According the MIT Technology Review article, nanodata is “customized fine-grained data describing in detail the characteristics of individuals, transactions, and information flows.” To me it seems as if nanodata is a form of metadata (i.e. data about data).

I still don’t get the term nanodata, but I consider that okay. Bottom-line: It’s possible ubiquitous sensors is our future and that implies infinite data being piped into an Infinite Computing environment.

DARPA Announces a Robotics Challenge

10 April 2012

DARPA has announced a Robotics Challenge. Kudos to DARPA. 10 April 02012 might become an epoch year for the United States of America.

My initial thought when I heard DARPA was going to a #RoboChallenge was that they wanted to accelerate their transition to robotic soldiers, but my initial thought was wrong. The following was copied from DARPA.mil…

“Hardware, software, modeling and gaming developers sought to link with emergency response and science communities to design robots capable of supervised autonomous response to simulated disaster.”

I suspect DARPA wants to start with robots that are put to work when disasters occur and then use the technological advances to evolve toward robo-soldiers.

The following was copied from DARPA.mil…

This challenge is going to test supervised autonomy in perception and decision-making, mounted and dismounted mobility, dexterity, strength and endurance in an environment designed for human use but degraded due to a disaster. Adaptability is also essential because we don’t know where the next disaster will strike. The key to successfully completing this challenge requires adaptable robots with the ability to use available human tools, from hand tools to vehicles.

The winner of the #RoboChallenge wins $2 million. It appears the challenge ends 31 December 02014.

Kudos to DARPA for creating a Robotics Challenge. I think it’s probably a bad idea if the United States is not number one in robotics. This challenge will probably help our country accelerate its entrance into the Robotics Age.

What If I Live To 93?

8 April 2012

I’ve enjoyed “60 Minutes” for more than half of my life and today (8 April 02012) I learned that Mike Wallace had died at age 93. I categorize 93 as “old”, and it’s nice that Mike Wallace lived a long life.

I was 54 on 8 April 02012. Hmm… Reverse the digits of Mike Wallace’s death age (digits of 93 reversed is 39) and add that number to my age (54) and you get Mike Wallace’s death age (93 = 39 + 54).

39 years is a long time. I’ll turn 93 in the year 02050. I think it’s possible that if I’m alive in 02050, then I could end up being alive in the years 02150, 02250, 02350, and so on.

39 years of SCREAM (Science, Computing, Robotics, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) enabled by Infinite Computing. I don’t have enough imagination to image what the info-, bio-, nano-, robo- advances are going to be over the span of the next 39 years.

These days I consider 93 an “old” age, but 39 years from now it’s possible I’ll consider 93 a “young” age.

Brian David Johnson Chats With will.i.am

25 March 2012

The following are notes from chapter 9 (“The Future of Education: Are We Ready?”) by will.i.am and Brian David Johnson in the The Tomorrow Project Anthology.

will.i.am says he is a “wannabe geek in the geek.” I’m sort of like this, too. Here is something that I posted to Facebook last month… I like being around geeks even though I’m just a pseudo-geek. Sometimes I experience geek envy.

Brian David Johnson (DBJ; an Intel Futurist) wrote that in 02011 “will made a big investment in education. […] Dean Kamen and will teamed up to make an hour-long documentary called i.am FIRST–Science is Rock and Roll.

I added the following quote to GDT::Quotes (my quote collection)…

The planet is full of people who aren’t thinking about the future. Shouldn’t we all prepare? I think we should.

And I think Mr. am is spot on.

I liked the following exchange between BDJ and will.i.am…

will.i.am to BDJ: “You’re a futurist. […] Where are we going?”

BDJ: “For me the question is: Where do we want to go?”

will.i.am: “[…] there are two we’s. There’s the we that are all moving forward and passionate about the future. Then there’s the second we that is staying back and lagging behind.”

will.i.am speaking on the topic of education…

“My cousin is 12 years old now. When she’s 22 is she going to be intelligent because schools are going to change in the near future?”

I think it’s possible the answer to will’s question is no. The education system in the United States needs to be blown up and I don’t see that happening in the near future (i.e. by the end of this decade).

will.i.am continued…

“Someone is going to have to think how to redefine education and mental stimulation to keep kids like her motivated and give her an idea of what she might be competing with.”

Of course “someone” is plural and i.am.hopeful that one of those someones will be will.i.am.