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Links 1 through 10 of 631 by Paul Raven tagged futurism

"Technology and melancholia: an odd coupling, you might think. Yet it's one that has deep conceptual roots. For Freud, all technology is a prosthesis: the telephone (originally conceived as a hearing aid) an artificial ear, the camera an artificial eye, and so on. Strapping his prosthetic organs on, as Freud writes in Civilisation and its Discontents, man becomes magnificent, "a kind of god with artificial limbs" – "but" (he continues) "those organs have not grown on to him and they still give him much trouble at times". To put it another way: each technological appendage, to a large degree, embodies an absence, a loss. As the literary critic Laurence Rickels paraphrases it, laying particular emphasis (as Kafka does) on communication technology: "every point of contact between a body and its media extension marks the site of some secret burial"."

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"Please don’t mistake this for one of those “after us, the deluge” moments on my part. I’ve always found those appalling, and most particularly when uttered by aging futurists, who of all people should know better. This newfound state of No Future is, in my opinion, a very good thing. It indicates a kind of maturity, an understanding that every future is someone else’s past, every present someone else’s future. Upon arriving in the capital-F Future, we discover it, invariably, to be the lower-case now."

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"The slippage of geolocational information from a closed, stable network into an open, dynamic one opens up a wider assemblage of contacts, but without the assumed friendship that comes from symmetric following. And it is much more likely that Twitter contacts that opt to follow you are not geographically near by, than Foursquare buddies. One purpose of Foursquare is to increase the likelihood of bumping into known people, [...] So the networks have reasonably high geographic overlap. But that is not the case with Twitter, since the service serves as a way for people to connect through weak ties, and without much concern for geography [...] (Brazilians are more likely to follow Brazilians, but they may live very far away.)

So, I think the slippage of geolocational information from a closed, stable system like Foursquare into an open, dynamic system like Twitter is less problematic than generally considered. I don't think it, per se, is scary." Common sense here.

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"According to Michael Mautner, Research Professor of Chemistry at Virginia Commonwealth University, seeding the universe with life is not just an option, it’s our moral obligation. As members of this planet’s menagerie, and a consequence of nearly 4 billion years of evolution, humans have a purpose to propagate life. After all, whatever else life is, it necessarily possesses an incessant drive for self-perpetuation. And the idea isn’t just fantasy: Mautner says that “directed panspermia” missions can be accomplished with present technology.

“We have a moral obligation to plan for the propagation of life, and even the transfer of human life to other solar systems which can be transformed via microbial activity, thereby preparing these worlds to develop and sustain complex life,” Mautner explained to PhysOrg.com. “Securing that future for life can give our human existence a cosmic purpose.”" Worryingly colonial and evangelistic.

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"Does our collective dreaming, our technolust, and our romance for the stars shape the way we understand future scientific advances? More importantly, can it change the future?

In a word, yes."

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"That is the American tragedy of the early 21st century: a vital and self-renewing culture that attracts the world’s talent, and a governing system that increasingly looks like a joke. One thing I’ve never heard in my time overseas is “I wish we had a Senate like yours.” When Jimmy Carter was running for president in 1976, he said again and again that America needed “a government as good as its people.” Knowing Carter’s sometimes acid views on human nature, I thought that was actually a sly barb—and that the imperfect American public had generally ended up with the government we deserve. But now I take his plea at face value. American culture is better than our government. And if we can’t fix what’s broken, we face a replay of what made the months after the 9/11 attacks so painful: realizing that it was possible to change course and address problems long neglected, and then watching that chance slip away."

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"... so here is the Burj Dubai's real symbolic importance: It is mostly empty, and is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future. Though most of its 900 apartments have been sold, virtually all were bought three years ago -- near the top of the market -- and primarily as investments, not as places to live. ("A lot of those purchases were speculative," Smith, in something of an understatement, told me in a phone interview.) And there's virtually no demand in Dubai at the moment for office space. The Burj Dubai has 37 floors of office space."

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"Some trends to consider before we leap into 2010: as our abilty to track objects, people and their preferences is continually refined - how small can the marketplace/vending machine for tangible media and other goods go? Why doesn't every apartment block have it's own redbox equivilent?; what value added services might be introduced to add convenience - the obvious being neighbourhood delivery and pick-up, and given that this hasn't yet evolved in the US of A in which cultures is it more likely occur? For people and communities with limited access to high-speed connectivity this could be the platform to extend the internet."

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"Journalists remain artisans in an era of industrialisation. Inside newsrooms, the old craft methods remain dominant. Outside, across the vast expanse of the web, algorithms are automating the information industry.

None of this would matter if newsrooms were hermetically-sealed enclaves. But they’re not. Increasingly, journalists find themselves on the business end of a high-velocity feedback loop created by digital distribution and reader interaction.

But if traditional journalism looks increasingly slow, it also looks increasingly costly relative to digital revenues. As publishers now tell us frequently, news-gathering remains expensive."

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"Even the hypothetical world-wide adoption of a cruelty-free diet leaves one immense source of suffering untouched. Here we shall explore one of the thorniest issues: the future of what biologists call obligate predators. For the abolitionist project seems inconsistent with one of our basic contemporary values. The need for species conservation is so axiomatic that an explicitly normative scientific sub-discipline, conservation biology, exists to promote it. In the modern era, the extinction of a species is usually accounted a tragedy, especially if that species is a prominent vertebrate rather than an obscure beetle. Yet if we seriously want a world without suffering, how many existing Darwinian lifeforms can be conserved in their current guise? What should be the ultimate fate of iconic species like the large carnivores?"

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