Future Trends: Storing Data in DNA, and VR Drugs

Posted By on April 8, 2016

Each week Nikolas Badminton, Futurist Speaker, summarizes the top-5 future looking developments and news items that I find to be inspiring, interesting, concerning, or downright strange. Each day he reads through dozens of blogs and news websites to find those things that we should be aware of.

In Future Trends: Storing Data in DNA, and VR Drugs we look at the trends that we should be aware of today, April 7th, 2016.

UW team stores digital images in DNA — and retrieves them perfectly

A new technique developed by University of Washington and Microsoft researchers could shrink the space needed to store digital data that today would fill a Walmart supercenter down to the size of a sugar cube.

The team of computer scientists and electrical engineers has detailed one of the first complete systems to encode, store and retrieve digital data using DNA molecules, which can store information millions of times more compactly than current archival technologies.

In one experiment outlined in a paper presented in April at the ACM International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems, the team successfully encoded digital data from four image files into the nucleotide sequences of synthetic DNA snippets.

More significantly, they were also able to reverse that process — retrieving the correct sequences from a larger pool of DNA and reconstructing the images without losing a single byte of information.

“Life has produced this fantastic molecule called DNA that efficiently stores all kinds of information about your genes and how a living system works — it’s very, very compact and very durable,” said co-author Luis Ceze, UW associate professor of computer science and engineering.

Via The University of Washington

Microsoft is betting that bots ‘are the new apps’

Microsoft made clear that it is betting big on the future of bots, after making two major AI announcements at the Microsoft Build 2016 conference.

CEO Satya Nadella personally introduced a cleverer Cortana (Windows‘ AI desktop assistant) at the developer’s conference in San Francisco, and a Bot Framework that’ll allow developers to build bots of their own.

“Bots are the new apps,” Nadella said, describing a future where users ask bots to complete tasks like booking taxis and ordering food.

The improved Cortana will be part of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update on its release this summer. Nadella promised that the AI assistant would be “a personal digital assistant that knows you, knows your world and is always with you across all your devices”. He demonstrated how Cortana will use contextual information from conversations and calendar invites to book tickets without the need for the user to input any data.

Via Wired

Miami Artist Offers a VR-Inspired Guided Pool Meditation

For Currentpart of O, Miami, the city’s month-long poetry festival, artist/technomancer Jillian Mayer will facilitate a guided underwater meditation at The Standard Spa in Miami Beach, asking participants for simultaneous engagement and disembodiment: they’ll don blacked-out goggles and a snorkel, and then, with the help of a noodle float, submerge themselves up to their ears in the hotel’s pool—the poppy techno usually pumped from the underwater speakers replaced with an audio composition that’s, in her own words, “abstracted from various poems that have influenced this piece.” Michael John Hancock of Miami mainstays Awesome New Republic will compose an accompanying original score.

Via The Creators Project (VICE)

NEST’s Hub Shutdown Proves You’re Crazy to Buy Into The Internet of Things

IF YOU WERE one of the people who shelled out $300 for Revolv’s smart home hub, you’ve probably already heard the bad news: the web service that powers the little gadget is shutting down next month, which will render the thing effectively useless.

Revolv was a smart home startup that was acquired by Google’s home automation company Nest in October 2014 (Nest is now, like Google, a part of the Alphabet conglomerate). The company sold a hub for controlling a wide range of different gadgets, from lights to coffee pots, via a single smartphone app. The catch is that the hub depends on a cloud-based service to communicate with your smartphone. Once that cloud service shuts down, you won’t be able to use the app to control anything.

Via Wired

What it’s like to take drugs in virtual reality

Logan trips on mushrooms in VR. He started on Oculus Rift DK2, which he found “overwhelming” until he’d fully grown his VR legs. Then he discovered a Leap Motion demo called OCTA and never looked back. “You can kind of make these 3D spiral effects and they kind of look like galaxies. It’s just in this black space area, so there’s nothing around you.”

“The body buzz alone was enough,” he says. “It was kind of weird because we grow up and we can see our hands and we know that we’re moving them, but when you can move something and you can’t see it, and then you’re also on shrooms… it’s quite an experience.”

Via TechRadar

The Modern Futures Podcast – Ep005: Music + Art + Code = Creativity with Samantha Blondtron

In this episode Nikolas interviews Samantha ‘Blondtron’ Mathews, CEO of Venn.Agency, Techno-advocate, Musician, and disruptor about how Music is mashing together with Art, Code, and Virtual Drugs to create a new world for brands wanting to connect with youth culture.

During this interview she plugged Nikolas into a Thync headset with some pretty amazing results and reactions.

Via The Modern Futures Podcast

See the last 4 week’s Future Trends articles here:


Nikolas Badminton is a world-respected futurist speaker that researches, speaks, and writes about the future of work, how technology is affecting the workplace, how workers are adapting, the sharing economy, and how the world is evolving. He appears at conferences in Canada, USA, UK, and Europe. Email him to book him for your radio, TV show, or conference.

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