Friday, December 13, 2013

Anthill Art

Who thinks of this stuff? The guy who made the video apparently got the idea of pouring molten aluminum down a fire ant nest, letting it harden, and washing away the surrounding dirt. The result is actually an interesting piece of casting sculpture, though not so much if you're a fire ant, I guess, or fond of them.

The Millenium Begins in 2030

Ray Kurzweil is a pretty amazing thinker. He's a well-known futurist and inventor who's convinced that we're poised on the cusp of an incredible knowledge explosion, one that will produce almost unimaginable technological advances. He calls this explosion a singularity.

A recent article at CNN summarizes some of what Kurzweil is predicting:
[He] predicts an exponential increase in technologies like computers, genetics, nanotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence. He says this will lead to a technological singularity in the year 2045, a point where progress is so rapid it outstrips humans' ability to comprehend it.

Irreversibly transformed, people will augment their minds and bodies with genetic alterations, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence. Once the Singularity has been reached, Kurzweil predicts machine intelligence will be infinite times more powerful than all human intelligence combined. Afterwards, Kurzweil says, intelligence will radiate outward from the planet until it saturates the universe.
I'm not sold on that last part, but here are some predictions I hope come true and some I don't think I want to come true although I'm not sure I can say exactly why:
  • Kurzweil says we'll soon be able to program ourselves away from disease and aging.
  • He also believes we'll be able to satisfy all our energy needs by solar power by 2030.
  • We'll also be printing a significant amount of the goods we use and wear, as well as replacement organs for our bodies.
  • Work and play will become a fully immersive experience by the 2030s. By this I take it that he means we'll be able in three decades' time to create 3-D virtual environments in which we will be able to function as if we were in the real environment.
Kurzweil is not without his critics, but if he's even close to being right the world fifty years from now will be even more different from the present world than the present world is from the world of the Middle Ages.