Monday, December 17, 2007

When food becomes an issue

The UN is concerned about global food supplies, prices, and the effect of climate disruptions. It's not a trivial question, whether you worry about the impact in human suffering, or about the resulting political instabilities. Right now the main factor behind rising prices seems to be higher demand (in particular from China), so this should lead to rising supplies [*] and hence a new equilibrium. However, climate change will also affect supplies; should the global agricultural system fail to adapt to the changing climate conditions, we'll be looking into a very messy situation.

[*] A caveat here: it depends on specific fiscal and trade policies - few countries have deregulated or economically efficient agricultural sectors, so milleages might and will vary.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

BCI, closer than you think

Brain-Computer Interfaces rapidly approaching medical and commercial use, reports a panel of neuroscientists.

The consequences of this will be incredible; we are talking basically of a new relationship between humans and our machines (not to mention each other, as we are very fond of communicating using machines as intermediaries). This will eventually change how we work, enjoy our free time, communicate, play, etc.

Remember, this isn't science fiction, this is almost product design.

Monday, December 10, 2007

No man is an island, but some interesting projects are

The Dutch are looking into building a 50km artificial island, both for its land value and as a technological showcase. What I find most interesting is not the project itself, but the fact that the Dutch are already looking at increased demand for their water management skills as a result of global warming. I bet it won't be the only such skill in demand during the coming decades.

(Hat tip to Guido at Globally Connected)

“It’s not your imagination.”

For-your-ears-only sonic street ads. I don't use an MP3 player while walking, I prefer reading, but I think that might not going to be an option in the future.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sex, lies, and credit card numbers

Russian chatbots disguise themselves as women to gather financial information. It's not a new scam from a criminalistic POV, but using software makes it much more scalable. I expect this will only grow; from advertising to customer relationships to scams (note how I made no joke about the difference being a matter of degree and technicalities) it doesn't make sense to send a human to do whatever a program can do.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Open government

We have the technological tools to redefine and enhance the relationship between the government and citizens. But I'm not sure there's a demand for them, and without a strong link to election results, the incentives just aren't there.

Friday, December 7, 2007

What I've been doing. Plus, killer robots.

Startup work, mostly; as fun as it is to talk about the future, it's much more fun to work on it. But I plan to pay more attention to this blog, if nothing else, as a sort of scrapbook for interesting bits.

Like the fact that relatively cheap remotelly controlled warfighting robots have already made it to the CNN. I don't think you can do effective counterinsurgency or nation building with those, but that has seldom stopped military procurement systems in the near past.

Hat tip to the IEET