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Archive for the 'Science Fiction' Category

H+ Summit “Rise of the Citizen Scientist” at Harvard

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 9th, 2010

If you can’t make it to Harvard this weekend, June 12-13, you’ll want to catch the live webcast of the H+ Summit: “Rise of the Citizen Scientist”.  No link yet, but presumably they’ll be putting it on the event homepage before it starts.  Also presumably they will post the videos somewhere for longer-term viewing. UPDATE: [...]

New sf novel includes nanomedicine, reviewed by Robert Freitas

Posted by Christine Peterson on March 23rd, 2010

In the mailbag today: A new fiction book Beyond Guilty by Richard Brawer, who got help on it from Robert Freitas, winner of the 2009 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize for Theory.  Brawer wrote, “Robert A. Freitas Jr., Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing, has graciously edited the references to nanomanufacturing and nanomedicine [...]

Alien Invasion

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on February 24th, 2010

Robin Hanson comments on David Brin’s response to a New Scientist editorial. As Brin notes, many would-be broadcasters come from an academic area where for decades the standard assumption has been that aliens are peaceful zero-population-growth no-nuke greens, since we all know that any other sort quickly destroy themselves.  This seems to me an instructive [...]

Avatar

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on December 27th, 2009

The first time I met Eric Drexler, I complained to him, “You’ve ruined science fiction for me.”  (He replied, “If it’s any consolation, I ruined it for myself.”) The reason, of course, is that understanding nanotech means that the all the classic SF projections become so piddling and simplistic in comparison that any story set [...]

Climategate, or, how science works

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on November 25th, 2009

“Science advances, funeral by funeral.” (often attributed to Timothy Ferris) The blogosphere has been abuzz over the past week or so with the release of data — emails and program source and documentation — from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, one of the premier climatology research institutions in the world. [...]

Reynolds advocates faster nano/AI R&D for safety reasons

Posted by Christine Peterson on November 19th, 2009

In Popular Mechanics, longtime Foresight friend Prof. Glenn Reynolds looks at the future of nanotech and artificial intelligence, among other things looking at safety issues, including one call that potentially dangerous technologies be relinquished.  He takes a counterintuitive stance, which we’ve discussed here at Foresight over the years: But I wonder if that’s such a [...]

Flying Cars: how close are we?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on August 24th, 2009

Previous in series: VTOL So, how close are we to flying cars? For specificity, let’s pick a technological bar to hurdle that answers most of the objections to the concept we’ve seen as comments on the previous posts: It should be relatively high-powered compared to current light craft. It should be STOVL for safety and [...]

Feynman’s Path to Nanotech (part 2)

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on July 7th, 2009

Historical Note It’s appropriate on this July 7 to make at least a reference to the history of ideas that lies behind the Feynman Path. That’s because July 7 is the (102nd) birthday of Robert A Heinlein, the famous SF writer, futurist, and inventor. His invention of interest is the “Waldo F. Jones Synchronous Reduplicating [...]

Forward to the past

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on March 3rd, 2009

Charlie Stross, the British science fiction writer, recently posted a “21st Century FAQ” on his blog that has aroused some reaction in futurist circles. Let it be noted that I’ve had a few drinks with Charlie, and he is a pleasant, engaging, and very intelligent guy, and writes really excellent science fiction. But I have [...]

Nanotechnology: a way of understanding ourselves

Posted by Christine Peterson on January 22nd, 2008

We’ve previously pointed out the usefulness of looking at future-oriented fiction as a way of stimulating thinking about nanotechnology. Now Annalee Newitz’s io9 site brings an interview of Kathleen Ann Goonan, who “was writing about nanotech before most people even know it existed.” An excerpt: I think that, for me, nanotech has been a metaphor [...]

Philosopher confused by longevity, nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 1st, 2007

The May/June Technology Review (free reg. req’d) features an essay by philosopher Roger Scruton attempting to examine the ethical issues of highly advanced technologies. While the focus is on biotech, nanotech is hinted at: …why cannot machines be produced as humans are now produced, by self-reproduction? Why not indeed. They could, in principle. Scruton makes [...]

Studying the future of nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 2nd, 2007

It’s a challenge to study something that hasn’t happened yet, but they’re taking a shot at it over at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, as part of a lecture series titled Studying the Future of Nanotechnology: Establishing Empirical and Conceptual Foundations (pdf). Powerpoint slides and mp3 recordings are now available [...]

Calif NanoSystems Institute holds $10,000 contest for script

Posted by Christine Peterson on November 4th, 2005

The California NanoSystems Institute, in collaboration with the Professional Artists Lab, is co-sponsoring a contest for scripts involving science and technology themes, with a prize of $10,000. Deadline is December 15, 2005. What’s the catch, you ask? There are two: (1) no screenplays; it must be a stage play script. More challenging is (2), with [...]

Intelligent nanoparticle systems?

Posted by RobertBradbury on January 2nd, 2005

Carsten Zander writes Intelligent nanoparticle systems? Here is an (hypothetical) example:
An "intelligent" nanoparticle unit could imitate a neural network. It could be a simple mixture of a few nanoparticles N and o:

N o N o N
o N o N o
N o N o N
o N o N o
more….

BBC Airs Scaremongering Nanotech Documentary

Posted by Jim Lewis on February 7th, 2004

Dr_Barnowl writes "The BBC saw fit to fuel the fires of fear over nanotech in last nights Horizon . While the web content is quite moderate, the prevailing image of nanotech the program presented was a swarm of CGI grey goo flying like a whirling dervish over a blasted desert (an image straight out of Michael Crichton's Prey , interspersed with time-lapse shots of reproducing cells and decaying animals as the commentary spoke of 'our day of reckoning'."

Nanomation

Posted by harperb on January 19th, 2004

HLovy writes "The nano meme continues to pick up steam. I'm among the Pong generation, so I might be lost in this game space, but it's clear that game programmers and marketers know a cool prefix when they hear it. So, in no particular order, here are some of the latest games and videos with a nano theme."

Royal Society report

Posted by harperb on December 9th, 2003

qftconnor writes: Readers might be interested in skimming through the recent Royal Society report Nanotechnology: views of Scientists and Engineers. I found the parts labeled 'Science Fiction' to be particularly entertaining. A typical remark: "Nanorobots ñ the biocomplexity of putting a nanorobot in the body to enter and repair cells has been massively overestimated [sic]. ëWeíll never know enough to go in and cure a cellí. This scenario also fails to recognise that the emphasis in health care is on developing non-invasive techniques and essentially persuading the body to heal itself." Sure."

Nanotechnology Theme Movie

Posted by Jim Lewis on August 5th, 2002

from the big-budget-silver-screen-tiny-tech dept.
Gina Miller writes "Chud.com a portal for movies in development has posted on the front page, news that FOX is intending to film the not yet released book _Prey_ by Michael Crichton. The author has received 5 million dollars for the movie rights of his novel. Quote; 'The details are more covert than Site B operations, but the story apparently involves nanotechnology, and is a political thriller that blends themes from the writer's Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park.' The book will be released in November."

Essay considers how to live in a VR simulation

Posted by RichardTerra on January 23rd, 2002

An interesting essay by Robin Hanson on highly advanced virtual reality (VR) systems ("How To Live In A Simulation") appears on the Kurzweil AI website. Hansonís theme: "If you might be living in a simulation then all else equal you should care less about others, live more for today, make your world look more likely to become rich, expect to and try more to participate in pivotal events, be more entertaining and praiseworthy, and keep the famous people around you happier and more interested in you."
The essay was originally published September 2001 in the Journal of Evolution and Technology. Robin Hanson is also the originator of the Idea Futures concept.

Venor Vinge profiled in NY Times

Posted by RichardTerra on August 2nd, 2001

from the proficient-prognosticators dept.
A profile of computer scientist and noted science fiction author Vernor Vinge appeared in the New York Times ("A Scientist's Art: Computer Fiction", by K. Hafner, 2 August 2001): "Vernor Vinge, a computer scientist at San Diego State University, was one of the first not only to understand the power of computer networks but also to paint elaborate scenarios about their effects on society. He has long argued that machine intelligence will someday soon outstrip human intelligence." Vinge also developed and popularized the concept of a technological singularity — the lower slopes of which many now believe we are climbing.

Note: Access to the NYT website is free, but may require registration.