Sunday, June 23, 2013

End of Moore's Law

According to Moores Law the number of transistors on a integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years (18 months). Gordron E. Moore described his law in this 1965 paper ‘Cramming more components onto integrated circuits’ in the Electronics Magazine. Because of this exponential growth over the last 48 years, this doubling has lead to 24 doublings of the orginal number of transitors that could be placed on a circuit board. Moore’s law is starting to buckle, because transistors based on semiconductors can only get so small.
"At the rate the current technology is progressing, in 10 or 20 years, they won't be able to get any smaller," said physicist Yoke Khin Yap of Michigan Technological University. Not only is the current technology starting to reach the mature phase of its growth (top of the S curve), but semiconductors also have another disadvantage: they waste an exorbitant amount of energy in the form of heat.
Over the last few decades scientist have experimented with different materials and molecule designs to continue Moore’s Law of exponential growth. However, these scientists have continued to experiment with semiconductor similar silicon. Dr. Yap wanted to try something novel, something that might open the floodgates for a new age of electronics.
"The idea was to make a transistor using a nanoscale insulator with nanoscale metals on top," he said. "In principle, you could get a piece of plastic and spread a handful of metal powders on top to make the devices, if you do it right. But we were trying to create it in nanoscale, so we chose a nanoscale insulator, boron nitride nanotubes, or BNNTs for the substrate."
Yap’s research team had figured out how to make a “virtual carpet” of BNNTS, which happen to be insulators (that are highly resistant to electrical charge). By using a laser, the team placed quantum dots (QDs) of gold as small as three nanometers across on top of the BNNTs, forming QB-BNNTs. 
When Yaps and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) an organization that Yap’s team collaborated with fired electrons through both ends of the QB-BNNTs at room temperature. The electrons jumped with precision from gold dot to gold dot. By a phenomenon known as quantum tunneling.
"Imagine that the nanotubes are a river, with an electrode on each bank. Now imagine some very tiny stepping stones across the river," said Yap. "The electrons hopped between the gold stepping stones. The stones are so small, you can only get one electron on the stone at a time. Every electron is passing the same way, so the device is always stable."
Yap’s team had made a transistor without using a semiconductor. When sufficient voltage was applied, it switched to a conducting state, and when the voltage was low or turned off, it reverted to its natural state as an insulator. During this process there was no leakage. Meaning, no electrons from the gold dots escaped into the insulating BNNTs, allowing the tunneling channel to remain at a cool temperature, while silicon is subject to leakage, that waste energy and generates a lot of excess heat.
The method that separates Yap’s success to others who have tried to exploit quantum tunneling is that Yaps gold-and-nanotube device is its submicroscopic size: One micron long and about 20 nanometers wide.  “The gold islands have to be on the order of nanometers across to control the electrons at room temperature," Jaszczak said. "If they are too big, too many electrons can flow." In this case, smaller is truly better: "Working with nanotubes and quantum dots gets you to the scale you want for electronic devices."
"Theoretically, these tunneling channels can be miniaturized into virtually zero dimension when the distance between electrodes is reduced to a small fraction of a micron," said Yap.

With Moore’s Law is coming to an end in the next 10 to 20 years, a new technology must raise to take its place to continue the technological development that has been seen in the last 50 years. In the future, we are going to see more scientists using quantum phenomena to over come the traditional physical barriers that are starting to loom and threaten technological development.  Yap’s method could continue Moore’s law along with creating more power efficient devices that could go days without being charged.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Last Human

Despairingly he replied  ”From where  I come, I can go no more." Dispirited, his words slip from his human lips and rang with sorrow. "Our skys are red, vast blue oceans lay dried in their beds. The mountains shaded in rust of red, deserts wish they too could be dead.”

Monday, June 10, 2013

Apple WWDC 2013: Anki Drive Merging the Physical World with the Digital

 Today at WWDC keynote speech this morning apple announced something quite interesting: a new company called Anki Drive, which is centered around Artificial Intelligence and robotics. These robots communicate with Bluetooth LE. The little race cars that were presented at the show can sense the track up to 500 times a second giving them a smooth and fluid motion that simulates real life driving. As the cars speed around the track, they can communicate with each other, understanding each other’s position on the track and anticipate the motion of the surrounding cars.

 Not only can these cars detect each other’s presents on the track, but they can also communicate and work together as a unit to complete a set objective. For instance, there were four cars on the track, and the three leading cars were told to block, or prevent the last cars from taking the lead. To complete this task, all three leading cars worked as a unit to prevent the last car from obtaining the lead position.  All of these commands were given wirelessly to the robotic cars from an iPhone application. The iOS exclusive game available as a beta in the App Store today, where the full release wont is released until this fall.

The physical world in the next 5-10 years is going to drastically start merging with the world the digital. With the implication of small electronic parts, we are going to have the ability to connect with and manipulate physical objects with electronic mediums such as our phones, tablets, and computers. However, this is only the first stage of this type of technology being available to the masses. With more physical objects joining the inner-connectiveness of the digital world, we could possible be able to ‘login’ to any physical object on the face of the earth and manipulate it to our will.

 However, Serious Wonder has already covered technological breakthroughs such as this. But with devices with the ability to detect computationally understands brain waves that can be translated into motion for physical objects. Just the mere thought of moving an object can man it manifest in real life. Although this technology is still in it’s infancy, according to the law of accelerating returns this new technology with grow with exponentially, and will bring in a third paradigm of how we interact with technology. The first being with tactile touch: keyboards touch screens, the second: voice commands, and the third: neurological input. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Scientist Find the Sorcerer's Stone: Turning Liquid Cement into Metal

Ancient Alchemist were in search of the great sorcerer's stone, today, using electron strapping, scientist have found a way to convert ordinary cement into metal. Not only are scientist able to convert liquid cement into liquid metal, but also take a non-electrically conductive material, and turn it into one that his highly conductive. This phenomenon of trapping electrons and turning liquid cement into liquid metal was recently discovered, but not fully understood until now. By knowing how this process takes places, scientist now know the conditions needed to create and trap electrons in materials, and by doing this, they are able to develop and test other materials to find out if we can make them conduct electricity using this method.

“This new material has lots of applications, including as thin-film resistors used in liquid-crystal displays, basically the flat panel computer monitor that you are probably reading this from at the moment,” said Chris Benmore, a physicist from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE).
The results were reported May 27 in the journal the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences in the article "Network topology for the formation of solvated electrons in binary CaO-Al2O3 composition glasses."

“The team of scientists studied mayenite, a component of alumina cement made of calcium and aluminum oxides. They melted it at temperatures of 2,000 degrees Celsius using an aerodynamic levitator with carbon dioxide laser beam heating. The material was processed in different atmospheres to control the way that oxygen bonds in the resulting glass. The levitator keeps the hot liquid from touching any container surfaces and forming crystals. This let the liquid cool into glassy state that can trap electrons in the way needed for electronic conduction.”

Scientist discovered that if the conductivity was created when the free electrons were trapped in the cage-like structures that formed in the glass. Then the trapped electrons provided a mechanism for conductive conductivity similar to the mechanism that happens in meals.

The method could possibly one day be applied directly to 3D printers. Giving engineers the ability to print intricate electronic designs that could be used in everyday electronics. However, this scientific development not only applies on earth. But also in space – the compounds and elements that are found in cement can also be found on the moon.

By applying the same method that we use on earth, we could possibly build large enough 3D printers that use this process to help build and establish a moon colony. If this method could be perfected, by 2023 when we hope to send people to Mars to establish a permanent Mars colony, this method could be one of the biggest economical driving forces of expanding the mars colonies without requiring substantial financial support from earth.

Not only could this method be used in the development of space colonies, but also transforming readily available resources into precious metals and other rare resources. This method in the years to come could change the way that we view global resources and our ability to access them. Opening and door to global development, and hopefully world peace.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Methods for Futuring: Part 4 methods

Futuring Methods
In this section we will look at the broad strokes of the methods behind futuring in eleven different methods. 
·              Scanning – Typically scanning is based on systematic survey of news articles, reviewing academic journals for new developments in technology and innovations. Not only is having an understanding of topographic of the developments of business and technology, but also politics. Trend Monitoring
·              Trend Analysis – Determine the rate of change of change in trends to identify its nature, cause, speed of development, and potential impact. Careful analysis maybe be needed though statistical models or with human imagination to give you a theoretical idea about the future.
·              Tend Monitoring – Watching reports regularly is key to creating informed decisions about the future.
·              Trend Projection – After trends have been analyzed in a numerical way, trends then can be plotted on in a graphing machine to show change in the past and theoretical changes in the future. 
·              Scenarios – The future development of trends, using different strategies such as Murphy’s law to describe an outline for the future.
·              Polling – Collecting people’s opinion through surveys, polls, or by face-to-face interactions. The Delphi polling method is one of the most popular polling methods among futurist.
·              Brainstorming – Generating new ideas about the future to help give you an idea map about the future. The same type of rough data that the early explorers would have used to map their journey to a new land.
·              Modeling – Gives us the ability to visualize data and project trends and project forecast into the future.
·              Gaming – The simulation of real-world situations by the means of humans playing different roles and observing the by-product of these scenario-building games.
·              Historical Analysis – The use of historical events to understand how to proceed into the future. 
·              Vision – Using the systematic creation of visions of a desirable future or companies, organization, or for individuals. Normally, this process starts with a historical analysis.
By interlacing these topics together and using the perspective of the supertrends and superforces and we reviewed in the pervious section, along with what we’ve learned from the great explorers, we can start to develop a futuristic model of the future, through the use of forecast and the creation of scenarios. 

Please note: All content from Part 1, 3, and 4 was summarized from the book Futuring:The Exploration of the future by Edward Cornish  

Methods For Futuring: Part 3 Super Trends

Six Supertrends Shaping the Future
Of the six supertrends technological growth is one of them, however technological growth is not just a supertrend, it is a superforce that creates accelerating changes with massive effects and disruptive power. One of the more obvious super trends produced by technological advancements is economic growth. Better technologies make it possible to produce more goods and services at a much cheater cost. Today, techno-economical growth is producing new goods and services at an increasing pace. However the other four shifts require brought by techno-economic growth require merit and special attention also. They are both supertrends and superforces, because they are waves of changes and forces because they bring about other changes.
These four supertrends are: improving human health, increasing mobility, environmental decline, and increasing deculturalization. Identifying shifts such as these is paramount, because we are viewing the world from a global, long-term perspective. At various places at various times, it is possible that these global trends could reverse themselves, and operate faster or slower depending on the region one decides to analyze. 
We now have a total of six supertrends to use as tools for evaluating technological change in the twenty-first century. Each one of these qualifies as a supertrend because it summarizes a key category of change and acts as a key factor in human life and development today.
These supertrends can be analyzed by in individual components that make them a supertrend. However, here we are looking a macro view of our six supertrends and over laying it on top of technological laws to see how it is shaping the future now, and how it might shape the future.
Supertrend One: Technological progress is encompassing of all improvements being made in computers, medicine, transportation, and other technologies and useful knowledge that enables humans to achieve our goals in the most efficient manner. As humans, we are neurologically wired to think about growth in a linear fashion, however as we learned from Technological Change and Exponential Growth we need to force ourselves to think in terms of exponential growth, and what ways this could affect new and emerging technologies, such as, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and quantum computing.
Supertrend two: Economic growth as we discussed technological growth facilitates economic growth.
Supertrend three: Improving health with supertrend one and two combined human living conditions have dramatically improved from the 1900’s to today. With improving health we have more people living longer, and living long into retirement. For instance, population soared in 1820-1992 from over 1 billion to nearly 5.5 billion.
Supertrend four: Increased mobility people, goods, and information move from place to place. Increased mobility leads to increased globalization and travel. Some futurists believe, that tourism may become the world’s largest industry during the twenty-century, if terrorism and violence are kept controlled.
Super Trend five: Environmental decline is continuing because the more population increases the more goods and services that will be needed not only to sustain raising populations, but to continue stable economic growth.
Super Trend six: Increasing Deculturation (loss of Traditional Culture) we experience decultutration when where people speak a language we do not understand or do things
By understanding these supertrends and the laws of technological growth, we can establish scenarios in the world 2040 to create alternative worlds so see how the world might change due to these trends and laws. 

Stages in Technology and Society
Unlike biological systems technologies do not evolve in a formulaic manner. However, there are certain stages of technological growth, and these stages are:
·             Scientific findings  
·             Laboratory feasibility
·             Operating prototype
·             Commercial introduction or operational use
·             Widespread adoption
·             Diffusion to other areas
·             Social and economic impact
By knowing and understanding these stages of technological development, we can start to recognize where along a certain technology is on the developmental stage, and prepare accordingly for the expected scenario that we developed for the most foreseeable future. 

Click here for Part 4

Please note: All content from Part 1, 3, and 4 was summarized from the book Futuring:The Exploration of the future by Edward Cornish 

Methods for Futuring: Part 2 Understanding the Laws that Drive Technological Growth

Technological Change and Exponential Growth
To understand technological change and exponential growth and leads directly into the 6 super trends, the reader needs an understanding of the technological laws that drives our modern world. These laws are the driving force of technological advancement in the 20th and 21st century, and depend on the fundamental principle of exponential growth, which is now called the Law of Accelerating Returns.  To understand the Law of Accelerating Returns the reader needs a basic understanding of what it means to grow something, or a number exponentially. In this example, I am going to use the story of the Chinese emperor’s favorite game, chess, and his reward to the inventor of the game. The story goes something like this: The Chinese emperor loved the game of chess so much that he wanted to show his gratitude to the inventor. Thus, he said to the inventor, “I will give you anything in my kingdom. Just ask, and it shall be yours.” The inventor replied, “All that I ask is that you place one grain of rice on the first block of the chess board, and then two pieces of rice on the second block then four pieces on the third block, doubling the numbers of rice until you fill all 64 blocks of the chess board.” The emperor thought it was a modest request, said “okay” and granted it. After doubling each piece of rice 63 times the emperor went bankrupt, and the inventor had 18 million trillion grains of rice that required rice fields that covered the surface of the Earth twice, including the oceans.
        Now we can use the same concept of exponential growth and apply it to the growth of computer systems.[1] To first understand the Law of Accelerated Returns and how it applies to the exponential growth of computer systems, we need to have a grasp on where it first originated in the biological context.  The law of accelerating returns by Ray Kurzweil states that:
 1. Evolution applies positive feedback in that the more capable methods resulting from one stage of evolutionary progress are used to create the next stage.
2. As a result, the rate of progress of an evolutionary process increases exponentially over time. Over time, the “order” of the information embedded in the evolutionary process (i.e., the measure of how well the information fits a purpose, which in evolution is survival) increases.
3. A correlate of the above observation is that the “returns” of an evolutionary process (e.g., the speed, cost-effectiveness, or overall “power” of a process) increase exponentially over time.
4. In another positive feedback loop, as a particular evolutionary process (e.g., computation) becomes more effective (e.g., cost effective), greater resources are deployed toward the further progress of that process. This results in a second level of exponential growth (i.e., the rate of exponential growth itself grows exponentially).

While there is more to the Law of Accelerated Returns, for this paper we only need to know the first four facts.  The first point states that the evolution of each organism is based, or builds upon the evolution of its predecessors. Thus, without the evolution of its past predecessor the evolution of the future organism could not continue, or in some cases even exist. The easiest way to think about this is to visualize the construction of a skyscraper. If you remove the concrete from the construction, you would not have a foundation or the columns to support the weight of the building. The same is applied to the Law of Accelerating Returns; if you removed one building block the whole system will fail.  The second and third point can be condensed into one explanation. As the complexity of an organism increases, as does the time at which new evolutionary milestones are met within a shorter period of time, accelerating with every evolutionary step it takes.
To summarize the words of Kurzweil, the evolution of life took billions of years for the first building blocks to form, then followed primitive cells and the process slowly started to accelerate as these single cell organisms turned into a multi cellular organism until we reach the Cambrian explosion, which took approximately tens of millions of years. Later, Humanoids developed over a period of millions of years and, finally, mankind during the last hundreds of thousands of years (Kurzweil).  The fourth step states that once evolution hits a certain point it starts to require more resources to further the evolution of that specific organism. Thus creating a second level of exponential growth, in other words the rate at which the original exponential growth starts to double.
Now that we have a basic understanding of how the Law of Accelerated Returns applies from an evolutionary stand point it becomes easier to understand how accelerated returns applies to technology in the twenty-first century.  If you were to look at the first technologies man developed, it would be basic rock tools, fire, and the wheel. This growth remained fairly constant. You could compare this growth to the evolutionary growth of the first organisms, very slow and time consuming, developing the building blocks of technology that helped form modern day technology. This growth remained fairly constant until around 1000 A.D when a paradigm shift occurred, and two centuries later in the ninetieth century (Kurzweil), after the discovery of electricity in the 1800’s the exponential growth of technology truly started to manifest itself.
Finally, when the Internet was first developed, the fourth stage of Kurzweil Law of Accelerated Returns started to apply to technology and double the rate at which technology started to exponentially double (see back to the fourth law). This is where I believe you could compare it to the evolution of mankind on the timescale of evolutionary events. However, there is one final evolutionary step that we have not yet discussed – the point of Singularity. However, before we dive into the ‘what if’ possibility of the singularity, There is one last fact about exponential growth that we need to know. As we learned from the story of the Chinese emperor and the inventor of chess, once you reach a certain number raised to a power (2^2 or grains_of_rice^blocks_on_chest_board), you start to experience extremely large numbers. According to the Law of Accelerated Returns, the same can be applied to the human knowledge (human_knowledge^number_of_years). Thus, as the amount of human knowledge increases and the time at which it happens. The number of scientific breakthroughs will turn into a downhill rolling snowball of exponentially, and the downhill is time.  In the twenty-first century over the next 100 years we will experience 20,000 years of technological growth (Kurzweil).
Click here for Part 3

Please note: All content from Part 1, 3, and 4 was summarized from the book Futuring:The Exploration of the future by Edward Cornish 

Methods for Futuring: Part 1 Learning from The Great Explorers

We are all time travels on a journey into the future. However, we are not accompanied by a tourist guide, or an all-seeing oracle that can direct us in our venture into the future, instead we are explores venturing out into an unknown landscape. In some of the futuristic landscapes, some see towers that scrape the heavens with technologies that boarder on the realm of the impossible, while others foresee ecological catastrophes, coming ice ages, or a collision with an celestial object.  Although futuring might involve projecting the future of humanity, and which way our humanities future a whole might hold; Futuring can also have a personal benefit to our careers and to our private lives. For instance, when to change careers, the decision move to a new neighborhood before prices rise or drop, or creating a desired outcome for our families. In many ways we are similar to the original explores that traveled to new lands.  In part one of this four part series we will hope to understand, how we relate to the original explores. Part 2, the swiftness of technological change and exponential growthand the laws that drive it. Part 3, the six super trends that are shaping the future,understanding change, systems, chance, and chaos, which leads us to the opening of Part 4 with methods to futurology.
The Explorers
Reflecting back on the accounts of the great expeditions throughout history. We start to notice that these great explores were very conscientious about packing for their journeys. Because their success depending on having the correct equipment, supplies, and the proper crew with the correct training and skill set, which leads us to the first lesson of the great explorers Prepare for what you will face in the future. The lack of preparation welcomes catastrophe, which might seem obvious, yet many people today do not see the point in thinking about the future, and regard it as a ‘we will worry about it when we get there’ mentality. Any of the great explores would consider us reckless fools, and that any number of problems are silently waiting to strike.
The second lesson is derived from the first Anticipate future needs. By taking the time to identity the likely future they were to encounter, they had a statistical model to work with to understand what they would need to bring on their journey. However, they also knew that any failed anticipation of the future could lead to death or being stranded on an uncharted territory. Thus, they tried to envision alternative futures before leaving port to better understand the needs of the journey. “Today, as explores of the future, we also need to anticipate what we may face so that we can be ready for it.”
But how could we possibly predict our future needs when we are venturing out into the unknown? The region of the “unknown” was not absolutely unknown:  By using information about surrounding regions, vague rumors and reports, educated guesses, and speculation about the geographic of the landscape. They could compile maps that might be relevant, however crude it might be.
Which leads us into our third lesson: Use poor information when necessary. Naturally, we want to use the best information available, but when it comes to decision we must not allow are selves to disregard information, because it may not be adequately detailed or may contain errors. Our great explorers sailed around the world using maps that were partially complete or containing inaccurate data.
“Many people today think that we know nothing about the future. That are 99.999+ + percent right in the literal sense, but quite wrong in the practical sense: Almost everything we don’t know about the future has little practical important to use whereas the little that we can know is extremely important, because it can help us make better decisions. Our business with the future is to improve it, not to predict it – at least not infallibly” We cannot be perfectionist when it comes to the future, we should be willing to use faulty data when necessary. Because when we’re lost in the fog of the future, any map could be a godsend.
By using imperfect data is allow us to act on futures before they become realties and much more difficult to shift and manipulate than when they were in their fluid futuristic form.
Leaving us with our fourth lesson from the great explores: Expect the unexpected. Many people assume that an unexpected event is bad thing, however, it could possibly lead to a great opportunity. But we still want to be able to deal with it in an effective manner. For instance, many young people prepare for careers, but not for career disaster or an unusual opportunity outside their expected career path.
The fifth and lesson of the great explorers is: Thing long term as well as short term. Columbus spent years traveling from city to city trying to get his expedition across the Atlantic funded. Facing one rejection after another before Queen Isabella finally provided the funds to make his dream of an expedition across the Atlantic a reality.  Foresight empowers us for future achievement, and foresight that expends well into the future can be especially empowering. By giving us the vision necessary to work towards a goal for years at a time before we see that goal actually manifesting itself into reality. “Almost anything can be done in twenty years” – Earl C. Joseph
The sixth lesson of the great explorers: Dream productively. Thinking in the long term is much more easier if you have a dream to sustain you; in fact, it might be impossible to slog throughout the years without any fruit for your labor. The great explorers were doers and a not idle daydreamer, what mattered most to them was the accomplishment of their vision, and fantasizing was a means to an end. By exploring future possibilities in their imaginations they were able to dream their ships across the oceans and around the world. With the creation of future possibilities they could anticipate their future needs realistically and prepare reasonably for what lay ahead. By fantasizing about future events, they could explore alternative goals and strategies.
The seventh and final lesson of the great explorers: Learn from your predecessors. By learning from pervious explorers they current day explorers were able to better gear their expeditions by learning for the successes, errors, and failures of past expeditions. Because, it would be possible for us to succeed if we had to make every mistake for ourselves, instead of building on last successes and failures of our predecessors.
The seven lessons of the great explorers:
·             Prepare for what you will face in the future.
·             Anticipate future needs.
·             Use poor information when necessary.
·             Expect the unexpected.
·             Think long term as well as short term.
·             Dream productively.
·             Learn from your predecessor
Please note: All content from Part 1, 3, and 4 was summarized from the book Futuring:The Exploration of the future by Edward Cornish