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: Human Head Transplants Are Ready we look at the trends that we should be aware of today, April 29th, 2016.
Doctor Ready to Perform First Human Head Transplant
Three years ago, Canavero, now 51, had his own Dr. Strange moment when he announced he’d be able to do a human head transplant in a two-part procedure he dubs HEAVEN (head anastomosis venture) and Gemini (the subsequent spinal cord fusion). Valery Spiridonov, a 31-year-old Russian program manager in the software development field, soon emerged from the internet ether to volunteer his noggin. He suffers from Werdnig-Hoffman disease, a muscle-wasting disorder, and is desperate. Canavero likens Spiridonov’s willingness to venture into a new medical frontier to cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s bold resolution to become the first human to travel to space, back in 1961.
And, here’s his patient.
Where do minds belong? Intelligence could have been moving back and forth between biological beings and machine receptacles for aeons
As a species, we humans are awfully obsessed with the future. We love to speculate about where our evolution is taking us. We try to imagine what our technology will be like decades or centuries from now. And we fantasise about encountering intelligent aliens – generally, ones who are far more advanced than we are. Lately those strands have begun to merge. From the evolution side, a number of futurists are predicting the singularity: a time when computers will soon become powerful enough to simulate human consciousness, or absorb it entirely. In parallel, some visionaries propose that any intelligent life we encounter in the rest of the Universe is more likely to be machine-based, rather than humanoid meat-bags such as ourselves.
These ruminations offer a potential solution to the long-debated Fermi Paradox: the seeming absence of intelligent alien life swarming around us, despite the fact that such life seems possible. If machine intelligence is the inevitable end-point of both technology and biology, then perhaps the aliens are hyper-evolved machines so off-the-charts advanced, so far removed from familiar biological forms, that we wouldn’t recognise them if we saw them. Similarly, we can imagine that interstellar machine communication would be so optimised and well-encrypted as to be indistinguishable from noise. In this view, the seeming absence of intelligent life in the cosmos might be an illusion brought about by our own inadequacies.
Play with TensorFlow
This was created by Daniel Smilkov and Shan Carter. This is a continuation of many people’s previous work — most notably Andrej Karpathy’s convnet.js demo and Chris Olah’s articles about neural networks. Many thanks also to D. Sculley for help with the original idea and to Fernanda Viégas and Martin Wattenberg and the rest of the Big Picture and Google Brain teams for feedback and guidance.
Microsoft experiments with DNA storage: 1,000,000,000 TB in a gram
Microsoft is buying ten million strands of DNA from biology startup Twist Bioscience to investigate the use of genetic material to store data.
The data density of DNA is orders of magnitude higher than conventional storage systems, with 1 gram of DNA able to represent close to 1 billion terabytes (1 zettabyte) of data. DNA is also remarkably robust; DNA fragments thousands of years old have been successfully sequenced.
These properties make it an intriguing option for long-term data archiving. Binary data has already been successfully stored as DNA base pairs, with estimates in 2013 suggesting that it would be economically viable for storage of 500 years or more.
Meet Xian’er, the Buddhist monk ROBOT that teaches ancient wisdom
Xian’er, the chubby new-age Buddhist robot, interacted with visitors speaking his centuries-old wisdom at Beijing’s Longquan Buddhist Temple, Wednesday.
SOT, Ven. Xianshu, Buddhist monk (Mandarin): “The robot monk was strictly speaking the idea of our Master Xuecheng, and he hoped to combine Buddhism, which is an ancient practice, with modern technology.”
SOT, Ven. Xianshu, Buddhist monk (Mandarin): “What we first provided was an idea. We wanted to use a robot to inspire the public to do good deeds. We want the robot to serve the public. This idea was highly appreciated and recognised by both entrepreneurs and scientists.”
SOT, Ven. Xianran, Buddhist monk (Mandarin): “People like this character, so gradually we upgraded the cartoons into a flash version, so it naturally followed that we had the idea to produce a physical model of Xian’er. But we thought it should be more than a statue, with certain functions such as human-machine dialogue and actions. It was a gradual process.”
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.