Flying Car

Well, another competitor has entered the arena. You can now pre-order your own PAL-V Liberty for about $600,000. You will need a pilot’s license to fly it. I imagined the first generation of flying cars to be completely autonomous to negate the need for a pilot’s license. It will be interesting to see which flying car ‘takes off’ the fastest in the consumer market. Here’s a quick peak at the vehicle itself.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation

Today you can buy a “thinking-cap” that enhances your cognitive capabilities. The device sends a low current through the scalp and into the brain. It basically shocks the neurons into a more excited state making them more receptive to input. It can enhance focus, decrease depression, increase learning speeds (the military has used it to train snipers and drone pilots), it can even aid in bulimia treatment. This is just another form of cognitive enhancement but instead of taking a pill (nootropics) you’re sending electricity through your brain. If this is proven to be safe long-term, then we may see them pop-up in schools and malls around the country. There are already companies selling tDCS devices, and there is ample data supporting their effectiveness.

This is an interesting alternative to taking pharmaceutical drugs. There are already a lot of DIY enthusiasts experimenting with these devices, psychologists have been using them for decades, and the military has been using tDCS for quite some time as well. I may make/buy one myself and then let someone I know try it on and post the results on here. He has taken cognitive enhancement pills before, so we will be able to do a side-by-side comparison. If this is eventually proven safe when used in a responsible manner, we may see people opting for their stimulation cap instead of a cup of coffee in the morning. We need to be careful with this technology even if it is proven safe because, like anything else, it can be addicting. This could be the first wave of digital drugs (Snowcrash anyone?) that people become dependent upon in order to gain an edge.

Fuzzy Feels

For quite a few years now I’ve had the idea of running a revenue generating website where people would come to learn, interact and explore. The site and its name came to me in a flash. Immediately I started building the site and there was so much momentum in the flow of ideas and their manifestation.  As traffic flowed in so did my excitement. Eventually 1nder was DDOS’d and I had no idea how to react, my knee-jerk reaction was to shutdown. So I put the brakes on and started working on a plan B. Well, plan B has been paying the bills, but I believe I was experiencing my upper limit problem. I thought I was getting too deep into something I wasn’t yet ready for or didn’t deserve.

The idea and desire has still not left me. When I apply energy to it I’m always getting something in return. As I write posts more often, I’ve noticed my writing comes out more fluidly and with less effort. A lot of topics that I write about force me to read more about them, and a majority of the time I end up talking to people about the subject within a day or two of writing about it. I feel writing is very important as it helps cement one’s thoughts in a therapeutic exercise of playing wordsmith. Labor is not as important as it once was, especially in the future as machines end up doing a vast majority of this type of work. White-collar work feels like a time-sink with very little reward (mostly monetary and training that you can carry with you). I find enjoyment mostly in the act of creation, this is what I do and want to do. The question to ask yourself is, “What would you do if money was of no concern?”

Anonymity and Currency

Contrary to popular belief, Bitcoin is not a completely anonymous currency.  It is deemed a pseudonymous currency, which means when you send and receive coins you do so under a pseudonym. Additional measures can be taken to increase one’s anonymity but this may be a turn in the wrong direction. The world would benefit most from a currency that can authenticate one’s identity in a transparent matter. The only way to drastically cut down on fraud and financial terrorism is by making the currency tamper-proof and the flow of it transparent. A lot of individuals may say this is a breach of privacy, and just a year or two ago I was one of those people.

Visual surveillance will increase the quality of life in our society. As we see more police officers wearing cameras, they are less likely to break the law. Criminals of all kinds are less likely to break the law if they think they are being watched. The same exact thing will happen in the financial industry. A terrorist or human-trafficker will not use a currency that is so easily traced, they will most likely continue using something such a Bitcoin, Fiat currency (like the US Dollar), or tangible items. What if we got rid of Fiat currency and abandoned Bitcoin in favor of a more responsible currency? That would make a criminal’s life much more difficult when doing business.

A lot of people may say that the ‘terrorist or CP argument’ could be made to start censoring the internet. But I fall on my previous paragraph which states that we need to make it more transparent and accessible so that it can be monitored. Tor is to the internet as Bitcoin is to currency. A lot of criminals (and legitimate people who just want to score some weed or whatever substance they’re looking for) use Tor so they can get just about anything they want. Tor, just like Bitcoin, is pseudonymous. Bitcoin should be used by criminals (since there is no going back to a time when Bitcoin doesn’t exist) and whoever else has something to hide (intelligence agencies – the Navy invented Tor by the way). That way a majority of the intelligence and auditing agency’s time and money can be spent tracking/tracing who’s doing what on these underground networks.

Blockchains and Banks

The underlying technology that enables Bitcoin to work is called the Blockchain. It is basically a verification system used to facilitate and authenticate digital transactions, these transactions are permanent and cannot be altered. Medium to large size banks are beginning to catch on to this technology and implement it in their own infrastructures. This would render a lot of transaction-verification jobs obsolete, while making the transfer of money much faster, safer and cheaper (since it’s an automated process).

In Mr. Robot a group of hackers bring the economy to its knees by wiping out a majority of the debt (probably not very realistic). A new digital currency is then pushed on to the public called ECoin. This is interesting because if the public were to adopt another currency other than the US Dollar (like some people are with Bitcoin) it could prevent things like currency manipulation, counterfeiting, and it could also save people from dealing with currency exchange rates. The total number of Bitcoins is capped at 21 million. There will only ever be 21 million Bitcoins in existence forever. It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which everyone uses this currency when most of the coins are already mined and in circulation. The early adopters of the coin were given an extraordinary advantage (and they should be well compensated for being the pioneers of the technology).

Blockchain technology can also be used in the stock market, for tracking digital ownership of certain items, file storage, and even voting. Imagine a voting system that can not be hacked. Every single vote is verifiable and tamper-proof. This is a technology that is still in its infancy and it’s difficult to predict how it will be used. We are beginning to see big names like Amazon, Overstock, Newegg and many others accept Bitcoin – a sign of things to come. Once the big players start accepting it, others will follow suit.

Designer Babies

Genetic engineering will rapidly change the type of society we live in by changing the people living inside of it. It will be hailed as a blessing initially. People will be able to prevent certain types of diseases that are being passed onto their children. They will be able to accurately predict what types of cancers or disorders that they, and their children, are predisposed to, effectively giving them and their medical team the upper hand in preventing the potential illness(es). Today you can pay to choose the sex or even the eye color of your baby. The next step is human enhancement, and there seems to be a huge taboo around this subject. This is something that needs to be discussed from every angle because these decisions will affect us, our children, and the society we live in.

The world is not going to come to a mutual agreement on this, there are already dozens of countries that have some sort of ban on editing embryos. Some proponents of legalizing this practice say that the changes made to these embryos will be passed on to future generations (who obviously don’t have a choice in the matter). I don’t quite understand this argument because who even has a choice in being born? And when they are born, they had no control in selecting the traits they were given. Genetic engineering’s goal should be human enhancement. I can understand the side that says this could lead to a dystopian world where there are super-intelligent humans, and then there are those who are the docile slaves working in factories for their corporate overlords. The super-wealthy are going to enhance their children to give them an edge over their peers. They will go to another country where it is legal in order to achieve this. What happens to the other people who aren’t given the choice, or fearfully opt out of the option?

After accepting the inevitability of human enhancement, the question is, given the chance to enhance your child, would you? If you discovered your child would have Down’s syndrome a few weeks into conception, would you change the fetus so that he or she could live a normal life? If you said yes, is this not enhancing the child? We need to rid ourselves of our previous convictions that tell us genetic engineering will lead to a terrible world. It can of course be used for harm, and that should be extensively discussed. But its potential for improving the human condition is something we’ve never quite seen before. We could rid ourselves of physically and mentally crippling diseases if we learn how to harness this technology responsibly. My view on this may be completely wrong, and I’m open to hearing both sides. Regardless, we will need to begin a discussion on this subject because the technology to perform these wonders has arrived.

Advertisements

Advertisers in the future will be forced to pay the consumer. As augmented reality goes mainstream, you will have the option of blocking out all advertisements on your commute to work. This will be feasible by using windshields that have the ability to filter out (or even display) certain items. This will render a lot of physically-placed advertisements obsolete. As more cars become fully automated, people will have more time to spend consuming advertisements while they are driving (money for you the consumer). We’ll have glasses that can block out any unwanted content too. This change will revolutionize the way advertisements are consumed. Imagine being able to make money by simply adjusting the amount of advertisements that are allowed into your field of view on a given day.

Today, we spend our time consuming a majority of ads for free. Of course the ad companies are paying the television networks, magazines, or billboard companies to put their ads on display. But they should also be paying YOU. You are already paying the cable company to watch their ad-filled TV-shows, same goes for newspapers, magazines and websites. The change to paying the person on the receiving end sounds great initially, but once you begin to think of people living in augmented realities bombarded by advertisements just to make some extra cash, it begins to sound a little strange. Then again, there are definitely worse ways to make a living. It’s ironic that technology has really increased the amount of ads that we see on a daily basis, but as we learn to control it at a finer level, it should completely reverse the trend.

None of this really discusses whether advertising in its current state is morally justifiable. A quote from a site that discusses this subject sums it up quite well, “Our right to preserve our own attention and to make our own decisions about how we spend it and with whom our personal information is shared must become part of the political agenda.”

Raw Data

I figured I’d write a quick review about Raw Data since I picked it up today. At $40, the game is a bit on the expensive side. But I must say it is the most polished and fun game I’ve played in VR so far. You feel like a Jedi with the ability to slow down time and deflect laser blasts coming at you. You can throw down turrets to protect your ‘Core’. There are multiple classes that you can upgrade, each with different abilities. I dove right into a multiplayer and it was a blast. I’m really looking forward to what VR has to offer in the future.

My one complaint is that the HTC is a bit bulky and becomes almost painful to wear after an hour or so, especially if you’re wearing headphones.  This will become a non-issue as all technology is undergoing rapid miniaturization. Seeing someone next to you in VR is a surreal experience. VR is the next best thing to being next to someone in real life. Nothing will ever beat the real thing, but this will come incredibly close and it adds another layer to what is not possible in real life. Augmented reality will blend the two worlds together which is even more promising.

Making Money

Money today is a funny thing, our US dollar is essentially controlled and printed by a private bank called the Federal Reserve. It seems that anyone can invent their own currency (proven by the cryptocurrency-boom, here you can see all the different types of cryptocurrency). The trick is making it nearly impossible to counterfeit (which seems quite easy with the US dollar compared to cryptocurrencies), and difficult enough to obtain in order to make the effort expended while acquiring it valuable. In a lot of futuristic movies or novels you’ll hear about a credit system, where you’re given a certain amount of credits that you can buy stuff with.

In a post I made earlier, I said that we should incentivize learning by essentially paying people to do it. This would reduce crime, provide education to those who can’t afford it (by essentially turning it into a job), and it would offer a new style of teaching. The core-curriculum hasn’t changed much over the last century and we still haven’t molded the curriculum to the student. Instead, we mold the student to fit the curriculum. If he or she doesn’t fit then they are put at an unnecessary disadvantage when another teaching style might work perfectly well for them. Sure, not everyone is cut out for college or AP courses, but a lot of time is wasted trying to program kids to learn the same material. I’m going to introduce a credit system on this website with more information to come on how they’re earned and what they can be spent on.

Flying Car

Flying cars will be another giant step forward in humanity’s technological advancement. Airbus announced recently that they will having a flying prototype ready by the end of this year. Think about the amount of time that will be freed up if people don’t have to spend countless hours every month in gridlock. And, since they’re self-piloting, you won’t have to spend time manually flying it either! We can help preserve our environment because roads will no longer be as crucial once this technology goes mainstream. It will literally save lives by getting people to hospitals quicker, there will be fewer accidents since most of the airborne vehicles will be self-piloting, you can get people out of dangerous areas faster. This is no longer a pipe-dream, just like virtual reality, it’s already here and people are ready to pay for it. I haven’t been able to find a video of Airbus’ flying car, so here is real footage of what is hopefully one of their competitors.

Chief Executive of Airbus, Tom Ender said “If we ignore these developments, we will be pushed out of important segments of the business,” he said. People are ready to spend a lot of money in this industry. These crafts are essentially over-sized smart-drones so it shouldn’t take long to get a viable version to market. In my conversations with people about this, they seem more concerned about how people will use it for weapons and other malevolent purposes. The internet itself is probably one of the greatest enablers of crime, yet we can’t possibly imagine scrapping it because it can be used for such things.  It’s amazing to think that self-driving cars and now flying cars will become a reality within just a few short years.