November 01, 2010

Where to find the Future

Mike Treder wrote an article called Are we in the future yet ? He laments failed predictions from the 1980s. Mike Treder does not know where or how to look for the "future".

Mike Treder notes several predictions and here is one - Machines will be capable, within twenty years, of doing any work a man can do.” - Nobel Prize Winner Herbert Simon, 1965

I covered an automation census 6 months ago. The article has points about how automation will effect each job category.

* There are probably about 11 million robots now (start of Q2 2010).
* About 1.3 million industrial robots
* It is estimated that self-service kiosk transactions will be worth more than $775 billion this year, and is expected to hit $1.3 trillion in 2013. The number of self-service kiosks in the United States and Canada is 1.2 million
* Self Service devices are growing at 15% per year.
* Financial kiosks and ATMs are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 9 percent to include more than 186,000 financial kiosks and more than 2.4 million ATMs by 2013

If you lose your video store job to a Redbox vending machine or the Netflix business model (mailed DVDs or downloaded movies), then it did not have to be an industrial robot in a brick and mortar store.

* “The first space colony, Island One, could be in place before 1990. This is possible, I must emphasize, within the limits of present-day conventional materials and technology.” - Professor Gerard O’Neill, 1975

* We have the International Space Station. An overpriced pork project that under-delivered for the money that was spent
* Bigelow aerospace inflatable space modules have scale systems in orbit and should have the first full sized system around 2015
* O'Neill said could be in place. I would argue that a far more ambitious space colony was technically feasible but maximum number of people in space was not a priority.

From Mike Treder -
# “If the scientific and medical resources of the United States alone were mobilized, aging would be conquered within a decade.” - Gerontologist Alex Comfort, 1978
# By the 1990s, the human lifespan will be “400 years or more.” - Dr. Paul Segall, UC-Berkeley, 1978

* the scientific and medical resources of the US were not mobilized to conquer aging.
* the scientific and medical resources of the US would be hundreds of billions of dollars per year.
SENS researchers review resveratrol and rapamycin.
SENS needs about $1 billion for full funding for the first major milestone of proving the repair of aging damage methods in a mouse.

So to accelerate the day when we have significant progress towards treating aging, then donate to SENS research

# “Within a generation…the problem of creating ‘artificial intelligence’ will substantially be solved.” - Marvin Minsky, 1967

Applications of artificial intelligence.

The methods of the 1960s did get developed into a global artificial intelligence industry with over ten billion dollars in revenue. Artificial vision systems, programmed trading, expert systems, etc... all are being commercially used.

Mike showed pictures of the London Subway as unchanged in the last thirty years.

There are 13 new subway lines in Shanghai and first was built in 1995. There is a lot of high speed rail in China, Europe, and Japan. Also, there is a large added benefit hurdle to rip out and replace adequate infrastructure even if it is old.

Some amazing facts about high speed rail in China

* China now has 7400+ kilometers of high speed rail. They have more high speed rail than all of Europe
* China doubled its high speed rail with the completion and start of operation of new rail since May, 2010. China added nearly 4000 kilometers of high speed rail since May, 2010 which is more than the number 2 country France.
* China will nearly double its high speed rail by the end of 2012 to over 13,000 kilometers. This will put it at more high speed rail than the rest of the world has. Europe, Japan, Asia, etc...
* China is pushing to speed up high speed rail speed to 500 kph (312 mph)
* China high speed rail between Shanghai and Beijing will have 12 train cars with one leaving every 5 minutes. An estimated 220,000 passengers will use it every day
* By 2020, assuming budgets are met about $300 billion will have been spent to build 25,000 kilometers of high speed rail network that will span most of the country
* If China develops low air pressure tunnels around their high speed rail then they could increase the speed a lot. They would need to develop or redevelop high speed rail with maglev. Southwest Jiaotong University in China is developing a low pressure underground tubes and maglev train which will travel at 1,000 kilometers per hour (600 mph). This is double the speed of current maglev trains, which enable a larger one city economic growth effect. Even more advanced vacuum maglev would enables speeds up to 12000 miles per hour. The double speed only costs 10-20% more than regular maglev. China has shown the willingness to make more than one high speed line (between Shanghai and Hangzhou), so the faster evacuated vacuum tube maglev lines could be developed as a next wave of high speed rail. This could start with a demo line in the 2020-2025 timeframe.

Other Future Questions and Answers

Question→ Where are the L5 space colonies with ten thousand residents?
Answer : Where is the funding for many residents in space colonies and where is the business model ?
Bigelow Aerospace seems to have a business model and systems for deliverying relatively large space stations. By connecting several modules, they could hold hundreds of people.Spacex could play an important near term role in reducing launch costs. If there is no progress on launch costs then there will not be significant progress on space colonies.

The trillions dollars spent on space over the last few decades went for spy satellites, TV satellites, communication satellites and there was a lot of wasted money.

Question → Why haven’t we seen the end of aging?
Answer- Donate and spend the money on a well though out strategy to attack the problem of aging.

So to accelerate the day when we have significant progress towards treating aging, then donate to SENS research

Question → Is there no human cloning?
Answer - I think it is technologically possible, but there are ethical restrictions and few compelling reasons to do it. They have cloned monkeys. Human cloning is delayed twinning.

Question → And no molecular nanotechnology yet?
Answer - Billions were spent on relabeled chemistry and buildings with signs on them Center for Nanotechnology at universities . Shockingly we have better research from chemistry and many buildings that are called centers for the study of nanotechnology.

Zyvex has made progress towards are more precise and controlled chemical vapor deposition.

There has been the first experiments funded to validate the computational chemistry of diamond mechanosynthesis.

Question → Are we really still waiting for strong AI?
Answer - There are not that many funded efforts with a good plan and goal to achieve strong AGI.

Question - Don’t you remember all those promises of decades past, that our awesome technologies soon would enable us to eliminate illness, to banish poverty, end aging, and control the weather?

Answer- the fulfillment of almost all technological predictions would not be addressing the social issues.

There has been a lot of poverty relieved in China, but the economic rise of China has also increased the income inequality.

You have to think through what social impacts would result from technological or economic change.

Accurate technological predictions requires more effort than most people (even Nobel scientists or economist) put into it. Also, it takes a lot of description to clarify a prediction to accurately describe what is and is not being predicted and the assumptions involved and the current situation and the lead up to it.

There has been progress against aging. Expected lifespan has been increasing. Most of the gain has been from reduced childhood illness and improvements to public health. There has been progress against childhood illness and preventable disease (the UN millenial goals). Most of the progress has not been the result of UN programs but from progress different countries have made economically and with infrastructure projects and with other efforts.

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