Biggest danger to Human civilization

Human civilization is fairly new when considering the time scale of everything around us. Yet, we often think how awfully old and complicated we are. We often think that everything is for us and we are the zenith of God’s creation. All the galaxies, spread billions of light years away, with billions of stars each, half of which with the possibility of hosting planets of their own… all created for us by the good Lord. What an awful waste of space, if that were to be true!

But we have come far. Just a few hundred years ago, humans could swear that Earth was the center of our Solar system. And today we are ready to explore the outer reaches of our solar system and beyond. To concur the space and bend space and time, to save the Earth and so on.

Save the Earth sounds heroic and all good. But from whom? A big nasty rock that hits home and wipes all species out, global warming or the dying Sun that engulfs all its planets? Must be a killer virus, or even better the aliens! But if you look from above, Humans are the biggest danger to themselves. We are slowly killing our source of existence and many other species that have taken different shapes and forms on this little planet. Humans are the best and the worst, the Earth has ever had.

We now have science and technology to see far into space, yet we fail to see the consequences of our action at home, just few hundred years in advance. We keep producing things that the Earth cannot displace -Plastics. And we keep consuming more and faster than the Earth can replace. We have more than halved the fishes from the oceans and cut the forests that are the main producers of food in the food chain. We pollute the water that we and other creatures depend on and spread toxins in air and ground. All for the sake of our current physical comfort. Instant sense gratification.

What about the future? How long can we continue the way we have been doing our business, destroying our home slowly but steadily? Probably till the last of the rain forests stands, till the last of the beasts, birds and fishes roam free. We will see it all till the last of all is used, burnt, cut and destroyed. We are our own enemies – a strange one; as we are conscious and aware. May be we will find the way to get us out of this home, and go and destroy another planet. Or may be the Creator will rethink his masterpiece as “partially defective” and do a recall.

Speaking about finding another planet to pollute and destroy, we have found a planet which would thus far be the closest to having conditions necessary for existence of Earth like life. It has been named Gliese 581g, after the name of its star – Gliese 581 (a red giant). The planet rotates its sun at the right distance and experts believe that it could have liquid water on its surface. Although it is in tidal lock with its star, meaning only one side of the planet faces the light and the other is in perpetual darkness. It is about 20 light years away from us. So even if we had a space ship that could travel at half the speed of light, it will take us 40 yrs just to get there. So how do we go to that planet before we render our own home useless?

Here is how I think it will happen – The only way humanity can infiltrate and contaminate another planet is by having cyborgs as intelligent as humans. Space travel over such long distances for humans with current technology is not possible because of various factors – radiation, effects of inertia at high speed, life support systems increases payload, psychological effects of long term isolation, etc. However, if we had cyborgs as intelligent and as capable as humans, then they could take frozen human embryos in space ship and cover very long distance. Once they arrive at the destination planet, the cyborgs could create conditions and habitable place for the humans and then defrost the embryos to repopulate humans in that planet. Of course, this is not an easy plan and assumes that at some time in near future, we will have desktop computers as powerful and complex as human mind. But it is the most feasible one I think. And may be these smart cyborgs will realize the follies of humans and correct the short sightedness of our species that will make us want another planet in the first place. A classic sci-fi case of machines realizing that humans are the biggest danger to themselves and other species on our home planet and wanting to correct that by eliminating the problem. But for now, we have robots that can sing and dance, run at max speed of 20 km/hr and can only process no more than 2 images per second compared to human eye that processes 20.

Hollywood shifts change

It seems like Hollywood is coming to understand and depict the imperfections of human kind.
There has been a shift in the revelation of human behavior lately. In movies like 2012 The day Earth stood still – aliens come to save the Earth from humans coz we are destroying it; District 9 – Humans take advantage of another intelligent species that has landed on Earth; Avatar – we go and savage another planet, just like we are doing to this one, with disregard to other species that inhabit it. Am I missing any other?

I think this is good. May be this shift in media and confrontation of human follies will bring about change in young minds and actually do some good in the long run. You never know you are doing wrong, if you are NOT confronted with your mistakes. Not everyone has a live conscious to tell them if they are wrong, for if we all did, then everything would be good and perfect. Humans would be perfect and I wound not be having this discussion with you.

Our conscience is like a tree within us. When we are born, it is within all of us. That is why children are said to be closer to Angels. We nurture it by listening to it and it guides us. The more we listen to it, the stronger it gets and the more it guides us. And this relationship starts early on in life, when we are children. But if we don’t listen to it, it gets weaker and fails to guide us and gets even weaker till it finally dies. That is why we have a variety of people in our world. One that have very strong and live conscience which takes them and puts them at par with higher consciousness – like Gautama Buddha, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Dr. King etc. Then we have minds with lower consciousness like yours and mine. And then there those who do/did not have a living conscience at all – Stalin, Hitler, Joseph Fritzl, Bernard Madeoff etc.

Pranav Mistry reinvents Minority Report

After seeing the movie “Minority Report”, we may have thought that it is another fancy of Science fiction from Hollywood. But sometimes, art inspires science, and more so Hollywood. A lot of things displayed in that movie are quite plausible and in fact are being researched and developed by the brightest minds at MIT. My favorite from the movie is tiny spider like robots that gang up, coordinate autonomously and do reconnaissance mission.

But here is something that is already taking shape. The computer system that takes input from hand gestures rather than keyboard and mouse. Not just that, it sees what you see, records video and sound when you want, displays information when you want, where you want, almost like your computerized “sixth sense”. The brains behind this new device being devoloped is Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry from MIT. Hats off to them!!


Source:http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/481

Follow UP:
At TedIndia, Pranav Mistry did a follow up of his invention and gave us more insight as to what really is the potential of his code and designs. I am super excited thinking and letting my imagination loose. And as he said, your imagination is the limit with this. This has the potential of being the next big leap in computer usage since the dawn of the Internet, and yet he has agreed to provide the source code for free to rest of the world instead of raking millions from his code. Hats off to you Pranav. I wish the big guys in the IT industry thought like you. Well, here is the video of Pranav Mistry, speaking at TedIndia conference and enlightening us with his invention, that will change the way we interact with digital information, forever.


Source: Ted.com

Juan Enriquez forsees Homo Evolutis

I love this guy! He knows what he is talking about and presents his idea with sarcasm and humor. But I love his presentation at Ted for some other reason. Long time back when I was in High School, I had written a paper on future of human evolution, with naive mind set. I was wondering as to what humans would evolve into in the future. The evolution of humans from Apes took about 1.9 million yrs [SD .3 m yrs], which on Earthly time scale is very small. So where to from here?? Juan Enriquez has done a good job in showing a possible direction.


Source: Ted.com

Google SMS

Did you know about Google SMS?
If your answer was NO, then don’t be embarrassed as I learned about this cool feature not very long ago.
The only thing is, you must be textually active to use this cool new feature. So here is how it works: you text a simple query to GOOGLE [466453] and it text’s you back with the result. No cost to you other than your text. I am not a big text person, but I think this is going to be useful for even a non textually active person like me. Suppose I am on the road and I need to find the number or address of a local business, or flight information, call Wallgreens to see if they are open etc. and I don’t have a smart phone with data plan, then this is a handy tool to use. Of course, even if you have a smartphone like a T-Mobile Blackberry Bold, you can still download it to your phone. Ok, I will shut up and let this video do the talking.

Arctic Ice in death spiral



Reminds of Spielburg’s movie Artificial Intelligence, in which they show Earth at 2040 with depicts a total melt down of poles. NY city is lost to the seas and at the same time, there are “MECA” i.e. robots as intelligent as humans. What looked like science fiction, now appears more and more like reality.