Beyond the Cusp

January 11, 2016

The Dream of Another More Distant Future

 

My view today is of the future and came mixed with yesterday’s visions and it will be taking place say in twenty-five to thirty years, possibly a little longer as I think some of the futurists such as Raymond “Ray” Kurzweil may be overestimating the advance in electronics, hardware and software and particularly when it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the ability of machines to design new machines and improve their own designs and being able to design the next generation which will replace their models which will design its own replacement and so on. But first let us direct our attention to the near events of the immediate future and into the coming decade which must be survived before we get to the Ray Kurzweil really different and somewhat scary future situations. Of course Ray is paid to picture opportunities for Google in the future so, needless to say but say we must or there would be no article, Ray Kurzweil’s views are almost all so perfectly upbeat and there could never be any real challenge as long as we stay zoned in on the future and keep abreast of how humanity can evolve with the technology. I have seen how my grandparents reacted and responded to the advancing technology of the twentieth century for the first three quarters and they were left in the dust from the 1960’s on but that was not really placing them at any real disadvantage. My parents are a totally different story. Televisions and cable remotes or even most of a VCR except for the always elusive how to program the clock after a power loss was well beyond their capabilities. If I had a dollar for every time I have had to reprogram the clock on their series of VCR’s where either they had not kept the manual and lost the remote which leaves one with a single option to rid them of that ever annoying flashing ‘12:00’ in the display; get two strips of electrical tape and cover it so they no longer can see it. Once my Dad complained that this solution did not work as he would know the clock was still flashing. I carefully, politely and deferentially advised him to just rest that thought next to the remote for the VCR and that complaint was not raised the next time we came to the same difficulty. Basically my Parents cannot even get mail from the computer if they lose the desktop icon. We will not even talk about cell phones and even making a call other than punching in the number from their phone-book or if the person has not called recently. They use the recent called list as their contact list so Heaven help anyone who does not call them regularly. Perhaps that is why I call them three times a week.

 

 

VCR Clock Frozen 1200 Failure After Power Loss

VCR Clock Frozen or Flashing
1200 Failure After Power Loss

 

 

But enough background and suffice it to say that ocular implants, neural sensory network reading our thoughts and releasing certain chemicals into our systems either intravenous, intramuscular, along neural paths or into the sheathing of the spinal cord to facilitate faster muscle reactions for both speed and reaction times for sports or fight-or-flight situations would be enough to freak one out but that is not the end of it. It would also pump extra O2 and adrenaline, norepinephrine, cortisol and increases deeper breathing as well as increased heart rate and shuts down any digestive processes temporarily diverting everything to your muscles and neural pathways increasing all physical abilities to the point where, if necessary, you could pick up a car and drop it on whatever frightened you. And then there is this which I am sure Ray Kurzweil will use in the future from new a study from Johns Hopkins University which shows that the brain cells surrounding a mouse’s neurons do much more than fill space. According to the researchers, the cells, called astrocytes because of their star-shaped appearance, can monitor and respond to nearby neural activity, but only after being activated by the fight-or-flight chemical norepinephrine because astrocytes can alter the activity of neurons. The findings suggest that astrocytes may help control the brain’s ability to focus. But wait, there’s more.

 

Ray Kurzweil predicts that people will augment their mental, physical, reactions, strength, speed, memory, reflexes, sight, hearing, smell, and, best of all, taste. We could have programmable nanites inside our bodies and a central sensing unit wired into the augmented neurological system which will register the first signs of any illness, cancer, virus, venomous bite or any threat to the body and it would use that same neurological augmented network to program the programmable nanites which would then combine and form whatever was required to fight or otherwise neutralize any threat. Other nanites would be utilized to repair and replace vital cells such as brain cells and neurons including those required for the enhanced neurological network and repair injuries such that should one fall and break their hip it would be completely repaired within a few hours without any need for X rays or a visit to the doctor. Your medical repair system would call your pharmacy and they would send the matrix required for the repair to be produced on your programmable, multi-use 3D printer which would produce the required items for the repair of your hip. Everyone will have such systems placed within their bodies and have access if they do not own a universal 3D printer, they will have access at data centers which will replace pharmacies, medical clinics, hardware stores and many other retail outlets as everything can be produced given the computer code. This melding of man and machine plus augmentations will grant the average person all the strength, endurance, health and intelligence which is beyond what we can even imagine today. This will very likely be the future where we each will have at least a basic issuance of many of these systems and the wealthier will still have the advantage in their being capable of purchasing improved, faster, more versatile, better features and every other advantage technology can provide them with even if it simply has a designer label. The good thing is that, just like the people who rush and camp out just to turn in their now obsolete and basically so dated and lacking in all the bells and whistles available on the latest cellphone, there will be plenty of people will make similar trade-ins with this technology as well. That makes these horrifically ancient five month old cellphones available for those who were unable or too smart to rush where those other fools had rushed just twelve hours ago so they could be amongst the very first, as witnessed by their four digit serial number against those purchasing one a week later with those yucky eight digit serial numbers. Then there are the more laid back but still nervous temperament who will pay premium price for those recently almost new cellphones were traded and they trade last year’s {Gasp} cellphones. And the models will drift down until everybody has a functioning cellphone though the majority does not have the latest cellphone which can be transformed into a racing quadcopter with direct cerebral guidance link built in! The same type of social pressures against financial restrictions will allow for all to have a workable unit with sufficient capabilities to provide general health and increasing augmentations as time progresses for all levels of the world. This would be a summation of the Ray Kurzweil world.

 

 

Robots on Parade

 

 

The problem here is the same as the problem with Ray Kurzweil’s design of what will happen with AI and the fact of his prediction that machines, read computers, will reach a level where their cognitive abilities will have equaled or exceed that of a human brain. He bases this on Moore’s law which predicts that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. Ray Kurzweil translates that into their doubling their capabilities every two years exactly as the density of the transistors being fit on circuit board. There are a number of problems with that assumption. First is there is a limitation on how much further the density on integrated circuits can be produced and still dissipate the heat efficiently without such causing failures. There is also a minimal size of connecting runs and the guaranteed endpoint of restrictions of the size of the molecules themselves required to produce the components themselves. Further, the complexity required will also require more advanced circuitry in order to hold the memory and registers as well as the processing unit itself will reach limits and in order to reach higher levels they will require the time-synchronizing multiple processing circuity in order to produce very-high computing power the only way conceivable, more data and addressing lines which makes routing problems rise exponentially. These things all work in conjunction with the limiting of the ability for computing power to continue its thus far meteoric rise. Moore’s law will someday soon be proven too optimistic just as the prediction alleged by Microsoft’s Bill Gates’s who predicted that 64k memory is all one will ever need.

 

Still, there are some predictions made by futurists which we are in complete accord with even if our assessment is it might take a good amount more time, but there are some monster changes coming in the not too distant future. We have already witnessed the initial onslaught of the robotic workers in manufacturing. There exist complete production lines which have become completely automated where robotic units and control software where all that is required is two or three people where twenty years ago the same factory likely required fifty or possibly more workers when one includes the supply room worker and test engineers and technicians who all have been replaced by robotic workers leaving minimal need for humans to run the show. There is one medical manufacturer who back in the last century decided to release the majority of their technicians who had repaired units which failed testing as the company decided that production costs were so low that it cost them more to repair units which failed testing than they were worth so instead they decided to simply discard any failed units and make more. The first areas we will see robotic workers will be initially in the fast-food industry which is being threatened severely by the drive which is picking up steam for a fifteen-dollar-an-hour minimum wage law which has already been enacted in some location inside the United States.

 

 

 

 

The new fast-food systems will be entirely different than the original automats of the mid twentieth century. We will initially see automated cooking stations where one or two or even three employees will replace multiple times what many currently employed. We could see some automated wait staff at the registers in these same fast-food locations. Initial robotic wait/cashiers will not be human looking but more or less like a robotic human as such but more like robot and might even be made to look almost comical and use such in an advertisement campaign to promote the new robotic helpers. They will avoid initially referring to the automated robotic units which will interact with the public as robots unless they can soften the possible downside which might turn people away. Eventually, and potentially sooner than many might like, there will be robotic workers interacting with the public which will be so human-like that one would have difficulty telling them from a human except that in many instances they will know beforehand. The robots are coming and coming as soon as possible in many industries as unions and minimum wage lobbyists push up the cost of human labor. One has to wonder who is behind the fifteen-dollar-an-hour minimum wage drive and one can only wonder if the robotic industry is attempting to hedge their bets and push things to a critical point. The other side is how long before more people than not have been replaced with robots, automated systems or nonbiologic units that there will be no sustainable way of governments supporting the numbers who will be incapable of finding any work at their skill levels. The minimal level requiring human employees will become more specialized and limited and requiring special or higher education, eventually post graduate degrees and eventually human employees will be a part of history like the work horse.

 

 

Robotic Personal Assistant and Augmentation Suit

 

The governments will be forced to find new manners of raising revenue or an entirely different form of societal structure. Any new system would today be considered as being socialist but that would be a misnomer once the vast majority of jobs have been taken over by AI robotic workers, potentially even the politicians will also have been replaced by a master computerized controller which will double as the master comptroller. The one thing we know for sure is the world and our societies are going to be drastically different all depending on what decisions and potentially the ability for Turkey to return to the rules of their constitution, a somewhat dubious prospect, and the efforts of Egyptian President Sisi who definitely could use an ally from Turkey or other major Muslim nation. The first step to the future might depend on the survival of Western civilization and it’s technological to survive long enough to reach these promising future discoveries. The next decade to decade and a half will make all the difference and that starts with what may be the most frantically desperate attempt by the world to imitate a demolition derby in human history. So, if you have been ignoring or never cared about politics and history, this is the time to take whirlwind crash course and once you have a grasp on the weight of things to come, work to retain some semblance of sanity in the world which treasures scientific reason and the belief in a higher essence which treasures morality, virtues, and ethics with a firm grasp on truth, reality and the essence of being a part of humanity with free will, free thought, freedom, respect, and a thirst for knowledge of liberty and the responsibilities that engenders if one expects to protect such absolutes. Accepting reduced or limited forms of any will eventually result in diminishing forms of all resulting eventually in slavery or worse, especially as human society will be under some form of control within the century which will be absolute and no individual or group will be permitted to threaten the entities who have the claim to the seats of power.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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January 1, 2015

Will it be a Happy New Year?

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Here we are just beyond the cusp from the old year to this New Year and all our hopes and fears are possible if only things play out as we all hope and believe they will. Perhaps we can help by attempting to spell out some of the trends and events we believe are likely including politics, sciences, automations, artificial intelligence, international relations, government intrusions, healthcare, and other odds and ends. These predictions are nothing more than suppositions, guesses and hypothetical potentialities. There are no guarantees and are intended for amusement and should not be used in order to make financial, healthcare, social, political or other life functions as there are no guarantees nor are these commentaries constituting an actual view of future realities. With the warnings and other legalese protecting us here at BTC from any legal actions from people who claimed they used these predictions as a basis for their future actions or investments, we can continue with the regular postings.

 

Just as the twentieth century was the century of electronic and information technology, the twenty-first century will be largely the century of medical technology advancements. Physicians have already built a replacement skull by constructing it to fit perfectly after being programmed and having it printed by a 3-D printer utilizing a plastic compound and implanted it into a young woman replacing her diseased skull which was growing thicker and placing pressures and stresses on her brain making her incapable of living a normal life. These 3-D printers have already been utilized to ‘print’ prosthetic eyes at such a rate as to make them commercially viable. There has been the utilization of a heart from a cadaver which had been harvested within the first thirty minutes and then perfusion-based machine to supply the heart with oxygen, and to keep the organ fresh, it is inject it with a preservation solution allowing the transplant of the organ into the recipient using the organ from a cadaver even after a short period. This procedure will permit the use of organs from a wider number of donors and save more lives. We will very likely begin to see cures for more cancers using less invasive methods including using nanobots (microscopic robotic units) which will be capable of identifying the cancerous cells and destroying them by attaching the nanobots containing a few atoms of gold inside the cells which will allow a directed RF-signal (radio frequency) which will cause the gold atoms to heat and destroy the cancerous cells without harming surrounding tissues which are not diseased. There will be detection methods for detecting diseases earlier making them more readily treated as well as potentially preventing pandemics by screening passengers before they board flights thus containing the disease. There will be advances in extending the life expectancy potentially possible of extending the human term of life to centuries rather than merely decades. There will come the manufacturing of replacement organs using one’s own stem cells derived from regular skin cells using the 3-D printers which will be capable of printing organs replete with blood vessels crossing the final hurdle. There will be discoveries permitting the implantation of augmentation devices creating superior human beings possessing what might be described as super powers. Finally, there may be found the use of hybridized replacement organs and limbs making the production of cybernetic bodies using just ones actual biological brain allowing a form of immortality within a purely robotic body, a kind of Brain in a Bot. The coming advances in medicine will be so mind-boggling that basically anything one can imagine may become reality. Many of the most advanced inventions will provide enhanced augmentations in the areas of understanding the mind and abilities to read thoughts simply by taking a scan of one’s brain and potentially finding ways of using telepathy. Another main area where advances will be felt further into the future but have traced their origins to the present will tend to be around DNA research and experimentation which is not quite yet at the stage for use with humans. These areas also leave us with a threat whose warning should be taken to heart by all on the leading edges of technology, make sure that the containment is secured and please be careful not to develop life with which mankind cannot survive. The areas for advancement are near endless.

 

The end of the effectiveness for the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons will change the balance of power around the globe as the ability to build deliverable devices equivalent to some of the most powerful nuclear weapons held today by a relatively small and exclusive group of nations. There will be an ever increasing possibility for a nuclear armed nation to annihilate the population living in major cities of a rival enemy nation resulting from fear of attack triggering the release of a preemptive attack aiming to deliver a knockout to their enemy. This may even lead to an escalation triggering an even broader use of nuclear weapons escalating in much the same fashion as World War I spread except these wars will be single strike and retaliatory strikes leaving a world of destroyed countries laid waste as the result of a single action. The next world encompassing war will not be over oil but over an even more precious resource, water. There will continue to be the threat of war to gain land and expand one’s influence or potentially simply to reapply control over areas which were previously part of one’s national influence. One such instance threatening the world currently is Russia which is threatening its immediate neighbors, particularly those which were part of the Warsaw Pact of nations. There is the potential for China to act on the areas she claims with Taiwan being the largest threat to trigger a greater conflict. Then there is the Middle East which is always a threat for war and even the use of weapons of mass destruction. Add the potential for nuclear terrorism and you have the perfect storm possibility. Then there is always the possibility for what is referred to as a failed state getting their hands on nuclear weapons and utilizing them to settle an internal problem such as what is currently destroying Syria.

 

Cyber wars will escalate with the potential for a cyber-attack to take out an adversary’s electrical grid potentially causing the death of millions. The danger of such an attack coming from a terrorist group or even from a sole individual who would perceive committing such an assault as deserved and the consequences for innocents to be harmed would not even enter their thoughts or be an intended part of the assault. What is even more deadly is the interception of such an attack and even before the actual culprit is identified that a return strike is perpetrated which actually begins an actual war having potential horrors possible are impossible to imagine. Cyber-attacks or other assault which takes away the advanced systems of any nation would be a catastrophe beyond measure and such an attack could trigger a greater response even before the actual culprit could be identified. A recent example was recently in the news over the Sony cyber-attack which was initially identified as an attack from North Korea and then some suspected Russia and then the attentions were tuned on a disgruntled ex-employee who was recently let go by Sony.

 

Towards the end of this year the race for the White House will significantly ramp up as the primary season will thus be upon the United States. This election cycle will start even earlier than usual as neither the Democrats or the Republicans have an actual frontrunner despite all the hype of a Clinton-Bush electoral battle attempting to suck the air out of the room making any outside threat potentially impossible, but there are always those few who find a way through the cracks and make the primaries become an open field where anybody can win. Basically, both of the major two parties have frontrunners whom their most vocal base are displeased with and desire new leadership. It would be a safe bet that at least one of the major parties to witness the breakoff of a new party which would take significant numbers of votes away from its parent party. Contrary to the ever-present concept that the Tea Party might split from the Republican Party is unlikely as they have no candidate to coalesce around as do those Democrats, who are so far to the left that some of their ideas sound almost Tea Party-like ideas, in Elizabeth Warren, a candidate who can stir up and excite those who may find the main party candidate to be insufficiently liberal enough in their view and they simply might form their own party out of frustration at their establishment candidate. Whatever the end results, the process for reaching those results will be even more excited and contested than ever; are you ready?

 

Another area which is drawing close to making it beyond the cusp and introducing a new concept is the automotive industry. It may be a revolutionary new battery which will allow for taking lengthy trips by automobiles powered solely by the new batteries which will be readily rechargeable such that even a multiple day cross country or continent trip can be realized. Hopefully any such battery system would have a prolonged lifecycle that would last well beyond seven to ten years making such an investment worth the money. Having a vehicle whose power plant which becomes useless and must be replaced every decade at a cost of three-quarters the price of the vehicle when it was new makes investing and buying such a vehicle problematic as the batteries need be replaced after a decade at a harsh price rivaling the original price of the vehicle. Maybe there are not any drivers who buy a vehicle and drive them until the wheels come off of it and only then trade them in after twenty years. The other area which will have a huge effect on the automotive industry is the new oil and gas finds in the eastern Mediterranean, the north above the Arctic Circle, the Canadian tar sands, the Dakotas in the United States and who can predict the next great deposit which will drive the price of energy back to more reasonable rates. This is not entirely the reason for the current low price for crude oil though it is a part. The current drop, as if going over a cliff, is largely due to Saudi Arabia taking on those they fear are threats to their oil wealth. These include the sabre rattling coming from Iran and due to supporting Iran, Russia, have been the main perceived threats on the Saudi Arabian oil fields themselves, and also the fracking being used in the Dakotas. Saudi Arabia can afford to sell oil at a significant loss by making up for such loss of revenue through backing their sales with their personal wealth or even take out loans as they have no or minimal debt currently. The low prices take into account for the fact that at anything under approximately seventy-five dollars a barrel the Iranians are selling their oil at a loss, something they are incapable of doing so for any prolonged period. This same financial picture is true for many of the western finds such as the Canadian tar sands and the Dakota finds in the United States as the Canadian tar sands produce some of the lowest yields per dollar and despite the refinement costs being minimal yield from the tar sands making them unprofitable while in the Dakotas the problem stems from the initial investment in specific equipment to meet their specific requirements thus making them too in the camp requiring a higher price for a greater return. The effect on Russia has already been made evident with the drop in worth of the Ruble and we can assume the problems are similar in Iran.

 

The private exploration of space has been slowly growing though much of the advances have yet to be publicized. That is very likely about to change and the advancements are going to be completely astonishing. More and more NASA launches will be performed by mostly private companies. The same will apply for companies who require orbital launch capabilities such as communications companies and surveillance requirements such as those utilized for weather predictions and assisting farmers. It would not be overly surprising to have one of the private space exploration and eventual colonization, mining, power production and eventually deep space exploration to announce their intents to build a space dock orbiting the Sun directly behind or ahead of the Earth which they hope to open to space tourism which will grow as the prices become more reasonable with time. There is the possibility for another space race back to the Moon with one critical difference, this time mankind intends to stay establishing a lunar space colony and habitat. This is the frontier which offers the greatest chance of making a breakthrough which will completely alter the future of mankind be it a warp drive engine, a hydrogen fueled fusion powered engine or other mind-boggling invention opening up space exploration to even distant stars.

 

There is one front which has not been defeated, terrorism in all its manifestations. Terrorism will continue for as long as there are those who feel their cause, religion, nation, or grievance gives them the right to utilize violence against targets both strategic and innocents in order to force a critical reckoning whereby their beliefs, they and those who agree or provide the tools for the terror, will gain some advantage. Terrorism is far from something new as it has been used as an effective weapon since the dawn of human attempts at civilization. Terrorism and the terrorists who find it necessary to resort to such means mostly are produced in places where individual freedoms are few if any and the governance is not representative nor are the rules made by the people or for the people but rather, like those who rule, the rules are pressed upon the people and their acquiescence is demanded and any divergence is quickly and violently suppressed. It makes little difference that violent terrorism is mostly counterproductive and will eventually turn away those who might have supported your struggle but are repulsed by the brutality which always accompanies terrorism. Terrorism will very possibly attain new and more destructive levels and may turn to weapons of greater destruction and potentially contamination by chemical, biological or even nuclear radiation which are all classified as weapons of mass destruction (WMD). There is not a great risk that such terrorism will develop into open warfare beyond those places which have mostly are currently dealing with terrorism. Proof exists that there are two major sponsors which finance and train the majority, Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood (الإخوان المسلمون al-Ikhwān al-Muslimūn). The main bodies financed by Iran are those Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRCG) operatives worldwide along with sleeper cells and Hezballah and their worldwide operatives and sleeper cells. Iran has been financing Hamas mostly so they can open violence and conflict on both the northern and the southern borders but this financing and training is intermittent and often comes with directions and demands. The Muslim Brotherhood has spawned nearly countless groups which include but are not limited to al-Qaeda, Taliban, Hamas, al-Nusra Front, International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), Muslim American Society (MAS), and numerous other associations, groups, societies, plus numerous Muslim and Islamic groups on college campuses throughout the Western World. In many instances the Muslim Brotherhood would open two groups in any major university city registering both with the university or college such that they could use one predominantly in their demonstrations taking things to extremes including intimidation and shouting down any dissenters. If and when, and it was often when, their first group faced censure or even expulsion from the campus, the other group would step up its activities and give much of the structure from remaining the same. It is not a problem for the Muslim Brotherhood to use deceit as the Quran instructs the adherents to Islam to use deceit to fool the unbeliever. There is a word for such deceit, Taqiyya, and it is a concept woven into the fabric of Islam and is why any nonbeliever must not, and by all forms of logic, cannot believe or completely trust the information provided unless it has been verified by a second source which is verifiably unaffiliated with any groups or individuals from an Islamic influence.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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