Futurist Stewart Brand
explains that the global rise of squatter cities is a good thing
because it enables people to connect with others and gain access to
education. He points out that unemployment in squatter cities is
generally near zero.
Check out his short and sweet presentation at TED:
Brand projects that the number of people living in squatter
cities will grow three-fold to $3 billion over the coming decades.
Makes me wonder if these regions will become the new hot-beds of
innovation as technology rapidly lifts their inhabitants up the
hierarchy of needs, provides cheaper connectivity and better
Maps has now added a
traffic feature that allows you to see the level of expected
traffic for a given time on a given day. This marks the first of
what I believe will be many prediction components or layers to the
I expect we’ll soon see more robust traffic forecasts displayed
by Google. Later on, I’m betting the company will integrate visual
forecasts of local crowd traffic, business hours and even recurring
annual/holiday events at given locations, perhaps using a
combination of time of day, Google Street View footage and
geo-tagged flickr photographs to build up these prediction
Eventually, it seems rather likely that Google Earth will
develop a robust time toggle feature, as predicted by David
Gelertner in his seminal work
Mirror Worlds (an absolute must-read if you’re interested in
Google or the future), that will save us all a great deal of travel
time, gas money and grief; not to mention point us in the direction
of useful and fun events.
A new consumer-ready system called ViPR , by Evolution Robotics ,
lets machines – from your cell phone to robots – recognize objects.
Already, this software permits consumers to snap photographs, then
to search for image matches, returning relevant image and text
results. In other words, you can take photos of product packaging,
movie art, billboards, etc and instantly get more information
related to the image you have just captured.
Take a look at this demo to see for yourself:
Eventually, such systems will be essential for robots and other
systems that either need to navigate a complex environment or serve
to input and index information.
In the near term it will be interesting to see how software like
ViPR will function in concert with the new image barcodes being
used on billboards in Japan and
in newspapers by Google. Once optimized, such systems will
undoubtedly lead to consumer efficiencies and new behaviors.
Media futurist Gerd
Leonhard thinks the production of music is about to open wide
thanks to a new infrastructure that supports rapid licensing and
sharing of components. Check out his take on how music 2.0 is
Here’s a trippy yet provocative YouTube piece by Terrence
McKenna, creator of Novelty theory (which predicts the ebb and flow
of novelty in the universe as an inherent quality of time), that
explores the the notion of culture as an operating system that sits
atop the natural human brain, conditioning our experiences (it
certainly could do without the spooky music). If more or less
accurate, this concept means that we’ll have the ability to
transform mindset, or to “download a new operating system”, as we
develop the requisite technologies. According to McKenna, that
requires “clearing the necessary disk space”. Take a look for
yourself, if you dare:
All those live car chases we see on television may be coming to
an end. A company called Engineered Arresting Systems
Corporation that specializes in pop-up safety nets for all
sorts of vehicles (cars, trucks, planes, UAV’s) has now developed a car catcher that can
safely stop cars moving at speeds up to 50 mph. Check out the
I can easily see such devices built into LA highways, perhaps at
narrow on- and off-ramps, or used sporadically at strategic
locations all across the town. They would also work great as a
non-lethal form of ambush in war zones – although shooting out or
puncturing tires is probably a more effective way to go.
Combined with increasingly popular automobile kill switches that can
remotely disconnect an engine from its fuel supply, devices like
these nets have the potential to make the roads quite a bit safer,
as well as to deter a good amount of auto theft.
Of course, one possible counter to that is to simply train
robots to steal cars instead, or simply hack the car systems.