The Future: Genetic Engineering, Nanotechnology, Robotics

29 July 2012

“The Future is genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and, ultimately, robotics,” says Ray Kurzweil.

TEDxNYU – Christopher Bradley – Synthetic Biology: This Will Change Everything“We’re using genes as programming languages,” says Christoper Bradley. “Biology plus engineering equals synthetic biology.”

Empire of the Ants is a good bad movie. At one point while watching it I thought nanoants. An ant would be a great way to introduce the topic of nanotechnology. Most people have seen ants. Ants are small, but we can see them with our naked eyes. A nanoant is one-billionth of an ant. In otherwords, take an ant and cut it into a billion equally sized pieces.

Most realistic android infant?“They plan to add voice, body temperature, skin, body movements, and smell,” says KurzweilAI.net.

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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.


Does the future need us?

28 December 2009

Singularity Hub’s A Review Of The Best Robots of 2009 reaffirms my belief that all high school students should be required to read, ponder and discuss Bill Joy’s essay Why the future doesn’t need us.

It might be a serious error to ignore Bill Joy’s opinion.

Our most powerful 21st-century technologies – robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech – are threatening to make humans an endangered species.

As 02009 nears an end, I continue to claim that we have not yet entered the Age of Robotics, but Singuarlity Hub’s robot review provides evidence that the Robotics Age is rapidly approaching.


Killer robots, yuck

24 November 2009

I really don’t want to ponder killer robots, but RealityPod.com reporting on the Samsung Intelligent Surveillance and Guard Robot it tough to ignore.

The Intelligent Surveillance and Guard Robot is a
stationary unit armed with a 5.5-millimeter K3 machine
gun and a second gun that fires rubber bullets. It can
use its twin optical and infrared sensors to track and
identify targets from up to 2.5 miles away in the daytime
and about half that distance at night.

Stationary today, mobile to tomorrow?

It also has a microphone and speaker system to exchange
passwords with human soldiers. If the password is incorrect,
the robot can either sound an alarm or open fire on the target.

I’d want more than one chance to say the correct password because
I’d probably pull a Ralph Kramden… homina homina homina.

RealityPod.com::Samsung Unveils Fully Automated Sentry Robot
that can Track, Kill Humans


Promoting long-term thinking

19 November 2009

I posted the following comment in response to an AzCentral.com posting by editorial writer Joanna Allhands titled “The impact of long-term forecasts.

“30-year economic forecast”… Hee-haw.

“Recovery from this recession could take decades”… I don’t know how you define “recovery,” but I keep “seeing” 02013 as being a major breakout year. In other words, the “recovery” will take decades if we assume one-year decades (and one-decade centuries). Note: I use 5-digit years for a reason. [visit LongNow.org and subscribe to the SingularityU YouTube channel]

Want to get majorily depressed? Investigate “lump of labor.” We’re not yet in the Robotics Age; consequently, this recession’s “recovery” is giving us insight into the “lump of labor” problem that is awaiting us. The next recession has the potential to make this recession look like good times. In a nutshell: We need to start electing 21st century leaders rather than 20th century political dinosaurs.


Hello world!

2 November 2009

I’ve been blogging since the fall of 01997. Back in those days I blogged almost exclusively about computing; however, over time I started blogging about  topics such as road tripping, biotech, nanotech, robotics, math, stocks, politics, community, and life in general.

I keep reading about the popularity of WordPress, so I created this blog to help me learn about this popular blogging service.

I like how WordPress creates an initial blog entry that says “hello, world!” When it comes to learning new programming languages, the tradition is to begin by writing a program that prints the phrase “hello, world!”

By the way, I am Gerald Thurman and I live in Tempe, Arizona. These days I’m a computer/math instructor at Scottsdale Community College. I am in the process of developing the RoadHacker, TempeHiker, and MathBabbler characters.