Fear of innovation? Is that really why we don’t like new stuff?

Wednesday, 27 July, 2016

We really don’t take to new things do we? Apparently when coffee and refrigerators arrived, respectively, they were met with resistance. Yet where would we be without either?

Harvard University professor, Calestous Juma, suggests the reluctance to adopt new technologies isn’t out of a fear of innovation as such though, rather it comes down to a sense of loss, in relinquishing an older something, that has been part of out lives for, possibly, quite sometime.

Among Juma’s assertions is that people don’t fear innovation simply because the technology is new, but because innovation often means losing a piece of their identity or lifestyle. Innovation can also separate people from nature or their sense of purpose – two things that Juma argues are fundamental to the human experience.

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Are drones the new photographers? Check these photos out and see

Tuesday, 26 July, 2016

Say what you will about drones, or unmanned aerial vehicle, some of their applications could, at best, be considered questionable, but when it comes to finding a good angle, or vantage point, for photographers, it could be said they come into their own. Check out some of these photos, taken with the aid of drones, and see what I mean.

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Are you looking forward to eternal life in the digital afterlife?

Friday, 22 July, 2016

We may live forever more in a digital afterlife. It’s a notion we hear a lot about, and wouldn’t it be something to know, and interact with, our descendants living centuries in the future? But is it really possible? Could we upload our brains, so to speak, into some hard drive, and live, fully conscious, as a kind of digital avatar of our once corporeal selves?

You could have the same afterlife for yourself in any simulated environment you like. But even if that kind of technology is possible, and even if that digital entity thought of itself as existing in continuity with your previous self, would you really be the same person? As a neuroscientist, my interest lies mainly in a more practical question: is it even technically possible to duplicate yourself in a computer program? The short answer is: probably, but not for a while.

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Gravity powered lamps, lighting up our off-grid communities

Thursday, 21 July, 2016

Flick the switch, and there be light. It’s probably something we take so much for granted, that we don’t even think about. For people living in off-grid communities though, such as in sub-Saharan Africa, lighting a home is far from simple, or cost-effective for that matter. And how long do you think you might tolerate living with a kerosene lamp?

Enter London based designer, Jim Reeves, and the GravityLight, a lamp that shines light for twenty-five minutes, thanks to a weight assisted power generator.

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All the world’s books on a stamp size data storage device

Wednesday, 20 July, 2016

Where are we going to find the space to store our seemingly limitless stock of photos and videos, together with all the other data we need to keep, when our hard drives are forever running out of space?

Researchers at the Delft University of Technology, in the Netherlands, may have found the solution, an atomic-scale rewritable data-storage device, that can potentially hold up to five hundred terabits of data, within a square inch. To put that sort of capacity into real terms, every book ever written, could be stored on a device the size of a postage stamp.

This atomic hard drive, developed by Sander Otte and his colleagues at Delft University, features a storage density that’s 500 times larger than state-of-the-art hard disk drives. At 500 terabits per square inch, it has the potential to store the entire contents of the US Library of Congress in a 0.1-mm wide cube.

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I read my tea leaves last night, and the future doesn’t look too good

Monday, 18 July, 2016

People creating their own pandemics, the complete end of privacy, irreversible climate change, robots that will either manipulate us, or try to kill us, and the rise of authoritarianism, these are some of the less pleasant aspects that the future might hold for us.

As threats to national security increase, and as these threats expand in severity, governments will find it necessary to enact draconian measures. Over time, many of the freedoms and civil liberties we currently take for granted, such as the freedom of assembly, the right to privacy, or the right to travel both within and beyond the borders of our home country, could be drastically diminished.

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Pokemon Go, a boon for small businesses, but not home owners

Friday, 15 July, 2016

Pokémon Go is an augmented reality game you play on your smartphone, that everyone is talking about. It’s also driving some people around the bend, particularly when crowds appear, without warning, outside their house, or apartment building, because a Pokéstop, a place where players can stock up on game goodies, is situated there.

Usually, these spots are located in public places, such as parks, but it looks like areas close to private property are being included. The on the flip side, small businesses are benefiting from the crowds that the game is drawing to some places, so that has to be a plus.

Smart businesses have caught on too. As Pokemon Go users traverse their towns in search of Pokemon, local stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and other businesses are capitalizing on this massive opportunity, driving huge amounts of foot traffic and conversions both with simple in-app purchases and creative marketing campaigns.

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If you live your life in fast forward, are you ever in the present?

Tuesday, 12 July, 2016

Washington Post writer Jeff Guo recently made waves when he said he often watched TV shows and movies in fast-forward mode, something that allowed him to view up to four shows in an hour. That could be the beginning of something that may not end well. Why next we’ll have TV producers making shows that cater for being viewed that way.

Karl du Fresne, writing for Stuff, also contends that audiences will miss out on the best parts of a show or movie, if they’re to consume them in fast forward.

Here the obsession with doing whatever’s technologically feasible parts company with reason. People like Gao appear to be afflicted by a strange new personality disorder for which psychiatrists have yet to coin a name. Watching a good film or TV programme in fast-forward would be like eating your favourite food via a stomach tube that bypasses the tastebuds. To put it another way, what’s the bloody point?

You might see four features in an hour, but how much of each will stay with you? Given the distractions we’re subject to while sitting in front of a TV screen – the need to constantly check smartphones for one – what do you recall of anything you see at normal speed, anyway?

What’s the solution? Cut back on some shows you watch, so you can focus one or two? Eliminate other activities from your life, so there’s more time to watch TV? I wish I knew the answer.

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Neil Mendoza’s amazing hamster powered hamster drawing machine

Wednesday, 6 July, 2016

The Hamster Powered Hamster Drawing Machine, created by Neil Mendoza, is exactly what it says it is. A drawing machine powered by what is effectively a running wheel for hamsters or mice. I expect the hamsters or mice are pleased that their exertion brings about a little more than some exercise on their part.

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The confessions of a Craigslist seller

Wednesday, 29 June, 2016

Telling his story through Craigslist Confessional, a former security guard talks about selling disused, sometimes broken, office equipment, taken from his old workplace, so as to supplement his family’s income.

At 5:45 exactly, after I’d completed my last round and made sure that everyone was gone, I used my key card to swipe into the office. I looked at the stacks of old office machinery that lined the back wall, and thought to myself that there was no way anyone would notice one crummy broken printer was missing. So I grabbed it, put it in a recyclable grocery bag, and went home.

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