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.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bill Gates Gets Down On Third World Global Health

Photo Credit: GrandChallenges.org

“There is no bigger test to humanity than the crisis of global health . Without compassion we wont do anything. Without science , we cant do anything. “

That’s Bill Gates talking, folks.

When the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced the opening of Round 5 of Grand Challenges Exploration, the billionaire couple’s project offering a US$100 million grant initiative to encourage innovation in global health research, both fans and skeptic groups alike had their heads turning.

The foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations , a five-year, $100 million initiative to promote innovation and achieve major breakthroughs in global health, comes on strong as all-heart and compassion for the Third World, described as exerting efforts to help develop and deliver low-cost, life-saving health tools for the developing world.

GatesFoundation.org presents itself as traversing beyond the innovations and breakthroughs in technology and its lucrative arena, and trudging through the burgeoning challenges and complexities of of 21st century living’s humane side, treading through the narrow road of extending a helping hand for the Third World, making sure that denizens of both worlds are leading meaningful and productive lives.

“Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people, especially those with the fewest resources, have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. “

Spearheading the project --- the Global Health Program which is under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation --- is Tadataka Yamada, M.D., who is former Chairman of Research and Development and member of the Board of Directors of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) , also past president of the American Gastroenterological Association and the Association of American Physicians , a master of the American College of Physicians , and a member of the Institute of Medicine of the US’ National Academy of Science , and the UK’s Academy of Medical Sciences.

Yamada said in a statement published at the New England Journal of Medicine that the said foundation is willing to promote more aggressive and adventurous approaches to medical research , raring to jumpstart unconventional projects that could transform health in developing countries, and is “willing to take risks”. The Foundation is backing up hundreds of innovative early-stage projects with financial support over the course of 5 years, and shelling out $100,000 investment in each project.

The Global Health Program chief explains : “We want bold ideas — even seemingly wacky ones — that need just a little help to get tested. Proposals will require creative thinking but no preliminary data. We'll run each idea past two groups of reviewers — one composed of internal scientists, and another of partners and advisers with a history of identifying creative solutions to difficult problems. We expect many of these projects to fail, but we stand ready to put substantial funding behind those that succeed. “

Curiously enough, the global health initiative zeroes in on unorthodox and out-of-the-box mindsets and ways of thinking in bold, avante-garde fashion which could be typically Bill Gates in unconventional flavor. Yamada stresses the point . "We hope to hear from researchers of every age, on every continent, and from disciplines that don't typically focus on global health or even biomedical research … History taught us that innovative ideas can come from anywhere."

Meantime, Grand Challenges Explorations’ Round 5 zooms in on technological innovations and inventions on low-cost mobile phones’ applications benefitting priority global health conditions, new technologies on improving health for newborns and mothers, new breakthroughs showcasing protection against infectious diseases, creating new innovative breakthroughs promoting birth control .

Recently in the news and soaking in lukewarm controversy was the foundation’s granting of $100 million to medical efforts by James Tsuruta and Paul Dayton from the University of North Carolina,with ongoing studies on ultrasound waves’ effect of temporarily depleting testicular sperm counts, being lined up as latest breakthrough for possible male contraceptives.

With the said method, the ultrasound waves stop sperm production for six months, making the patient temporarily infertile.

Tsuruta says : "We think this could provide men with up to six months of reliable, low-cost, non-hormonal contraception from a single round of treatment… Our long-term goal is to use ultrasound from therapeutic instruments that are commonly found in sports medicine or physical therapy clinics as an inexpensive, long-term, reversible male contraceptive suitable for use in developing to first world countries."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cuddly Social Robot Petrimo Vs. Cyberpedophilia

We'll meet again online (Image: Mixed Reality Lab/National University of Singapore)

Photo Credit: Mixed Reality Lab

CYBERBULLYING AND CYBERPEDOPHILIA -- explained by social analysts as "sexual attraction to prepubescent children" is no doubt at an all-time high today , burgeoning through a societal sex crime crisis experienced by the United States in the early and mid-1990s, and spreading through Europe, particularly Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Germany, countries which found themselves in the "same predicament". From offline sexual abuse moral panics, these developing phenomena have crawled through online bullying and pedophilia, and have become the scourge of concern by the parental community and the society as a whole.

As cyberbullies are touted to be "emboldened when using electronic means to carry out their antagonistic agenda because it takes less energy and courage to express hurtful comments using a keypad or a keyboard than with one’s voice", the astounding statistics continue in steadily increasing figures. A 2005 US survey reported 73% of the respondents stated that they knew the bully, 26% experienced that the offender was a stranger, 10% revealed that their picture and/or video of them via a cellular phone camera, "consequently making them feel uncomfortable, embarrassed, or threatened."

Check out the statistical reports:

"The internet is the new playground or schoolyard where pedophiles go to meet children. Cyber pedophiles almost always have a history of sexual conduct with children and now use chat rooms to contact children directly. Cyber pedophiles usually have interest in child pornography or sexual urges and fantasies with children. The legal system has seen an alarming increase in the number of pedophiles over the past several years. Statistics show that 1 in 5 children who use computer chat rooms have been approached by a pedophile and 1 in 7 kids who use the internet have been solicited for sex online. Law enforcement officials estimate as many as 50,000 sexual predators are online at any given moment."

Cyberpedophilia, meantime, targets the much-younger set of 6 to 10-year-old prepubescent children, with surveys suggesting that as many as 3 in 10 children have been subjected to bullying while online.

Enter Mixed Reality Lab , a project of the National University of Singapore and the Keiyo Media Design of the Keiyo University of Japan, has created the interactive "social robots" called Petimo: designed to guard children against cyberbullies and other online crimes, and borne from the reality that 18 percent of said prepubescent kids in the US use social networking sites, "thus there is a strict need of someone who vigils upon these minors so that they aren’t victimized by the cyber world, this is what the Petimos does so efficiently."

National University of Singapore's Adrian David Cheok , inventor of Petimo, explains that he wanted to use new media to help develop more natural human forms of communication, and that "Petimo is one step in this direction."

How does it work?

"Children will only be able to accept new online "friends" if their Petimos are brought into physical contact first, to guard against cyberbullies and paedophiles masquerading as children. The devices work in conjunction with an online social network called Petimo-World in which they are represented by avatars. By squeezing their physical Petimos, or pressing buttons on them, children can send messages or "gifts" to their online friends.

Parents are notified each time a friend request is made and can block approaches that concern them, so children only see and interact online with the avatars of approved friends.

Meantime, UK group E-Victims, advocating safety for both children and adults on online sex crimes, contend that the system may be quite limited with the restricted content of Petimo World as online children are bound to be bored .

"Children young enough to be content with a walled garden approach and its limitations will probably be too young to be seriously interested

in the chat element."

To this, UK

police officials last March called on social networking sites to place a standard "panic button" designed by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre on all pages, to help ensure safety for children against online sex crimes, and against cyberbullying and cyberpedophilia.

Meantime, advocates against online sex crimes on children also lament that the responsibility is not solely on social networking sites, as parents , too, have strong roles to play. Online practices such as anonymity and caution in disclosing information are very important, as well as installing certain filtering software which are able to block off pornographic contents if they were to receive pornographic materials in their inboxes, or when they surf the Internet.

"Companies or schools can also install software such as the BioObservation System using computer image analysis technology that can analyse computer images to identify pornographic or pedophile images on suspect computers and to alert the relevant authority when such offending images are received."

Mixed Reality Lab's Petrimo hits the US market late this year, and may also be due for distribution for the international market.

"Future of Communication"- Mixed Reality Lab, Adrian David Cheok

"Future of Communication"- Mixed Reality Lab, Adrian David Cheok

Mixed Reality Lab & Adrian David Cheok on Discovery Science Channel "Future of Communication" showing Petimo Childrens Social Robots ... Petimo ...