Tag Archives: future

From Smog to Clean Air and Diamonds

The Smog Project —  a project that creates 75% cleaner air and diamonds.
Air pollution is a phenomenon we all know.  Most of us are aware that, probably, we should be doing something about it, but the real treat of global warming seems to be too distant for many to actually take considerable action. Still, we all know how refreshing it can be when you escape from the city for while to enjoy the ‘fresh’ air in rural places or at the beach.

Daan Roosegaarde, also involved in the glowing-plant project I blogged about earlier (yes, it seems like he is on his way to master innovative thinking), decided to address this urban pollution problem in an ambitious project to create smog-free parks in Beijing.

Not only will this result in ‘clean’ recreation areas for residents, an integral part of the project also includes the creation of diamonds from the residues of charcoal, which is a major component of the black dust.

By buying a designer smog-ring,

“you are buying a cubic kilometer of clean Beijing air” (Roosegaarde)

According to Roosegaarde, the rings are the “aware makers.”

Lasers installed on top of the centre-tower in the park(s) visualize the clean air (laser beams cutting through air only show for the human eye when they ‘hit’ particles).

The first pilot version of the park should be up and running by the beginning of next summer, and the first rings should be available by the end of 2014.

Another piece of innovative thinking with high potential for the community.

What do you think, will this project be as promising in practice as it appears to be in theory?

Check the full article here.

Artificial Intelligence: Exciting or Frightening?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) — a fascinating topic, which I keep having trouble with wrapping my head around, perhaps because I simply don’t know enough about it.

I just watched Her from Spike Jonze, a beautiful and fascinating film that I would totally recommend watching, and it made me think again about the insane speed of technological development and the question whether we will ever create something that is smarter than us and will eventually overpower ourselves? And in turn, whether that would be a bad thing, or whether we should just consider that as some new development in Darwin’s evolutionary theory?

The biggest issue in this whole debate is the idea of machines or operating systems developing a conscience and way of independent reasoning — together with their ability to learn by experience, could this be potentially problematic to the world as we know it now: where we control merely everything that’s artificial?

People have been exploring this possible potential path in technological development for years, especially in science-fiction. Think, for example, about supercomputer Hall from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssee. In his article Is Google Making us Stupid (2008), Nicholas Carr parallels his own mind and what the internet does to us to the character of Hall. Carr describes his “uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain.” He compares his feeling with the famous scene with supercomputer HAL,  where astronaut Dave Bowman is disconnecting the memory circuits that control HAL’s artificial brain. Carr states, “My mind isn’t going – so far as I can tell – but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think.”

I’m sorry, I’m wandering off topic to an entirely different trend that’s going on, which is also very interesting but we’ll save that for another time (I can suggest some readings on that one if you are interested).

Let’s get back to the relevance of 2001: A Space Odyssee for the future of AI. I guess the biggest question right now is, once we are at the point where operating systems can develop independently, will we still be able to pull the plug, like Bowman does with HAL, if needed or desired?

Please note I’m not arguing against AI or to stop technological development altogether, at all — it allows us to do a lot of amazing things in many different fields (more about AI in general in the video below). As I mentioned before, I’m just not quite sure yet what my stance on this issue is. I am sure that I find this a fascinating topic — the dazzling speed of technological advancements  is starting to blur the line between science-fiction and science-prediction.

Curious to see what you think about (the future of ) AI. Call out!

Future of Technology

For the gadget lovers among us, the Google Glass project (launched about 2 years ago) is an exciting step forward we’ve all been waiting for. With the accelerating developments in technology, it was only matter of time until we would invent a way to superimpose our digital world, quite literally, upon our own ‘reality.’

Fun fact: about half a year before the Google Glass project was launched, me and a fellow student designed a futuristic tool in our critical design class that has quite a lot in common with Google glass. Perhaps our critical design is not so far from feasible at all. Check it out here: http://youtu.be/qM9vqDdvw6o?t=35s (don’t pay attention to the shakiness, rendering was not my best skill).

Update
Chris Kluwe explores the possibilities of Google Glass beyond empathy and user-comfort — what is the potential when Google Glass tools get combined with smart data and used to enhance performance and experience in divergent situations in his TED-talk.