Future Culture

Futurist Writer Lei Kalina writes her tongue-in-cheek musings and ramblings on the growing worldwide phenomenon of the growth of the Future Culture in the 21st Century

Future Culture In The 21st Century

Future Culture In the 21st Century

Futures Studies, Foresight, or Futurology , according to Wikipedia, is the science, art and practice of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. Futures studies (colloquially called "Futures" by many of the field's practitioners) seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends. Futures is an interdisciplinary field, studying yesterday's and today's changes, and aggregating and analyzing both lay and professional strategies, and opinions with respect to tomorrow.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

You Humanoid , Android You !

Er, don't look at me: I'm not your average Stars Wars fan, and that Keanu Reeves series of The Matrix almost made me puke in boredom and disgust. Sounds like an anti-futurist to you?

Well, it seems that the 21st century --- yes, still at its infancy stage --- is heading for a good future of androids' and humanoids' population. Surely you've heard of Baby Bots, and nurse robots... and that female robot , looking much like a Japanese with chinky eyes ( yep, made in Japan) which would pull its face askew as soon as it hears the words "George Bush."

When Lee Majors started the thought of half-man half-machine with "The Six Million Dollar Man" series , there's no looking back. C3PO and R2D2, that robotic duo who bungled things up in outer space during their "Star Wars" popularity, Arnold Schwarzenegger's "The Terminator", all made their steely presence felt that artificial intelligence and robotics would soon come up with a robotic population that would be making our digital lifestyles easier , more fun , and convenient for all.

by Clockwise from top right: Courtesy USC/CLMCâ€Lab; Courtesy Center for Intelligent Systems; Courtesy Sony; Billy Yip, Man Piu: Photo by Clockwise from top right: Courtesy USC/CLMC–Lab; Courtesy Center for Intelligent Systems; Courtesy Sony; Billy Yip, Man Piu; Courtesy Air Intelligent Robotics and Communications Laboratories

Movie humanoids, from C3PO to the Terminator, have long been able to see, hear, think, and socialize. Today's real-life humanoids–robots with the mechanical equivalents of eyes, head, arms and hands–are finally beginning to catch up. The five bots here are the standard-bearers.

(Clockwise from top right)

Robovie was designed as a personal companion by Hiroshi Ishiguro's team at the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, Japan. It turns to face a person who's talking to it, maintains appropriate social space during a conversation, points to objects with its finger, and bends down to play with children.

Perhaps the most agile humanoid, the life-size DB, designed by Sarcos Research Corporation, can balance a pole on its palm, juggle, and perform an Okinawan folk dance. It does some serious science too: Stefan Schaal's team at the University of Southern California uses it to test theories of motor control-how the brain plans and generates movement.

It resembles an animated junk heap, but ISAC makes up in creativity what it lacks in looks. Designed by Alan Peters and colleagues at Vanderbilt University, ISAC can express simple emotions and has both short- and long-term memory. Soon, it may even "dream," shuffling its neural connections just as we do when we're sleeping, which could help it devise
creative solutions to thorny problems.

Sony's Dream Robot
It's only two feet tall, but Sony's Dream Robot can wake you up in the morning, tape a television show for you, and ask how your day was. SDR-4X, the latest version, sings, dances, and recognizes voices and faces. It's due out in the U.S. within the next two years-at a cost rivaling that of a luxury car.

RoboSapien's novel engineering allows it to do kung fu moves, pick things off the ground in less than a second, and run "so fast it scares cats," says de-signer Mark Tilden, a robot physicist at Wow Wee Toys, a division of Hasbro. Instead of using computers to calculate how to move, the 14-inch-tall RoboSapien, which will retail for about $80 when it hits stores later this year, uses analog transistors to react to signals from the world around it.

( courtesy of Popsi.com)

Big Wheel , Keep On Turning

"Big wheel , keep on turning... Proud Mary, keep on burnin'..."

Sure, I remember that 70's Tina Turner ditty, watching those re-run classics and having Tina's or (Anna Mae Bullock's ) rhythm and blues ringing in my ears.

Fast forward to the 21st century:
It's called the Monovelo : the first available human-powered monowheel, making its grand entrance during its exhibition stunts at the recently-concluded
2008 Beijing Olympics. With its maximum speed of 20 kilometers per hour --- so that's some 12.5 miles per hour , you're up from some cool-and-suave cruise... if you're trying to save on gas , if you don't mind getting a suntan as you pedal your way to work, and if it makes you happy and ecstatic sniffing all the smog of the metropolis and having it land on your face as your improvised face powder.

With a net weight of 38 kilograms and a gross weight of 52 kilograms , made of ABS plastic wheel, rubber tires and steel frame, some cynics are doing the smirking bit that it's not gonna work, and would be gone in no time.

Check out www.popsi.com's report:

Can't let go of the Olympics? While it's unlikely you'll be able to purchase 2008 Chinese drummers to play at your next barbecue, apparently the big human-powered wheel from the closing ceremonies can be yours for the bargain price of $1690.

The Monovelo claims to be the first commercially available human-powered monowheel. Built from ASB plastic combined with a steel frame and a rubber tire, the contraption measures just under seven feet in diameter and weighs in at 84 pounds. The device claims a maximum payload of 220 pounds, so lay off the burgers.

Monovelo claims it could be a great advertising tool and is even street legal in most countries. With a top speed of 12.5 miles per hour, that's a lot of good exposure time.

Yep, good point: it could be perfect for advertising strategies ... Coca-cola and Pepsi can attract attention with these eye-catching thingies in big concert events, campus productions, and even political rallies (!) Sure, for cryin' out loud. 2010 is just around the corner, and Philippine political circus would be more colorful with this Monovelo bonanza troopers pedalling away for some eye-popping scenarios.

Just imagine the 2010 presidentiables --- Manny Villar, Mar Roxas, and Ping Lacson biking away in these circus-y, flambouyant unicycles as they parade for their bid for the Presidency.

However, don't get caught with these along the skyways and metro routes in the Philippines: lest you want the thrill of getting it smashed to pieces, with your own limbs.


The Future of Mobile Computing

Check out PopSci.com's report :

Future Phone: With Android, Google is betting that the future of computing will be handheld.

When MIT professor Hal Abelson heard that Google was about to release the software-development kit for its free, open-source Android mobile-phone operating system, he immediately decided to teach a class that would design programs for it. “Android is about to change people’s experience of what they can do with computers,” he says, because the computers in our cellphones will soon be the ones we use the most. These seven applications, developed by students in Abelson’s class, show what Android-equipped phones will be able to do.

Loco will track your friends on a map by picking up GPS signals from other Android phones, so you can search for nearby parties.

Set your phone to change settings based on your location. You can make your ringer automatically switch to “vibrate” when you’re at work and then back to “normal” when you’re at home. Google has singled out this application for funding.

This app will send you reminders based on location instead of time. For example, as you approach a grocery store, it will remind you to pick up milk.

Like a location-based, community-oriented Digg, Snap will show you the most popular locations (museums, stores and so on) near you, based on user submissions and feedback.

Re:Public will let you browse profiles of other users in the neighborhood, see what events they’re attending, and track their their location in real time.

By communicating with Bluetooth-enabled hardware in your car, Kei will unlock your car door and start the vehicle without a key.

Flare allows you to track mobile employees, such as food deliverers, in real time through their Android phones.