This will change everything……………..#innovation

artificial-intelligenceHave you heard of the ‘Human Brain Project’ ? :-

‘Understanding the human brain is one of the greatest challenges facing 21st century science. If we can rise to the challenge, we can gain profound insights into what makes us human, develop new treatments for brain disease and build revolutionary new computing technologies. Today, for the first time, modern ICT has brought these goals within sight.’

‘The HBP is working to develop a collaboration infrastructure, which would among other tools include network and cellular simulators, in-silico experimentation facilities, and the opportunity to execute the combination of simulator model and in-silico experiment on a supercomputer or computer cluster. During the project, the tools and the collaboration infrastructure developed by the HBP researchers will be made accessible for the entire neuroscience community. At the seminar, HBP researchers and external neuroscientists will explore the challenges, opportunities and implications of the HBP collaboration infrastructure, and formulate hypotheses, focusing on testing of cognitive tasks like spatial navigation and visual action recognition, that could be tested when the facilities has been developed.’

These developments once thought fantastical reflect the thoughts of pioneering futurist Ray Kurzweil who has talked about the idea of a ‘singularity’ – a point in time in the near future when the development of artificial intelligence reaches a point beyond which it is almost impossible to predict what will happen as humans combine with intelligent machines to produce a race of ‘super- humans’ capable of extended life with un-imaginable consequences. These ideas are both terrifying & exhilarating.

Once considered purely Science Fiction the Human Brain Project suggests that this truly disruptive technology may be closer than we think.

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10 Technology Predictions which failed…………….#tech

It’s that time of year again when we’re all trying to peer into the fog of the future & predict what’s going to happen in 2015 & beyond. A good rule of thumb to employ is that if the person doing the predicting is described as an ‘expert’ then their forecast will inevitably turn out to be a load of codswallop.

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Mad Scientists construct Human Brain….

3Dbrain‘Mad Scientists construct human brain’ – you can see the tabloid headlines now. Scientists based in Switzerland are working on the ‘Human Brain Project’ the purpose over the next 10 years is to develop & construct a working model of the human brain. The specialists involved, Computer Scientists, Psychologists, Neuroscientists, telecommunications experts & a host of others will collaborate in an effort to develop a fully functioning brain & to garner an understanding of how it works at a fundamental level.

 
The project is being funded by the E.U & what is intriguing is the funds come from the Future & Emerging Technologies budget.
 
In a previous post I discussed Ron Kurzweils ideas about the development of machine brains whos intelligence would surpass that of the human leading to an event he labels ‘the singularity’ beyond which human development will accelerate beyond our comprehension. The HBP would appear to bring the possibility of this happening ever closer. 
 
Consider the success of other European projects – to map the Human DNA sequence & the discovery of the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider, tasks which would have seemed impossible & incredible a few short years ago.
 
It is often difficult to appreciate the rapid pace of scientific & technological change unless one deliberately pauses & looks back to see how far we’ve come. 
 

Rage against the machine…………………………#AI #Innovation

AIThere is much speculation in the sphere of Artificial Intelligence as to when we will arrive at a point in time when machines develop ‘intelligence’ which is beyond that of a human being. This event is often referred to as ‘The Singularity’ as it is difficult to see how human society will evolve after this point as Machine intelligence surpasses our own then grows exponentially..
 
These ideas are explored by Ray Kurzweil in his 2005 book ‘The Singularity is Near’ which discusses the impact of this collossal technological advance & its impact on individuals & society.
 
Of course there are many examples of the use of robots in industry, including the automotive industry where they are ’employed’ where precision & repeatability is essential. In contrast there are plenty assembly lines still employing thousands of human beings because they are more flexible & cost a lot less.
 
There are also may examples in society where A.I is ‘helping’ us including Apples ‘Siri’ which executes voice commands & learns our speech. Sometimes it is easy to forget the iPhone has only been around since 2007  such is the speed of technological innovation.
 
Of course Intelligence is no guarantee of a better society. There are millions of human geniuses now but we still suffer from war, mass starvation, wealth disparity, poverty & numerous other adverse conditions which are a result of the way we organize society rather than the intelligence of the population. Intelligence does not equal wisdom.
 
Predictions vary as to the date of the ‘Singularity’ but general consensus puts it around 2040. If you live that long you may live forever, alternatively you may live to regret it.
AMBERHILL-LOGO-THUMB
 

Invasion of the Robot cars….#auto #innovation

Last week saw a little reported milestone in Automotive history when Californian Governor Jerry Brown signed through legislation to allow fully automated vehicles  on California’s roads.

This took place at Google’s ‘Mountainview’ headquarters where the team have been working on a car which utilizes Google’s ‘Street View’ mapping technology, a number of sensors & some clever software to enable the car to navigate without human intervention. The company has already done over 300,000 miles testing with zero collisions so far.

So why is all of this so important ??   As Highways get increasingly congested it has long been a dream to enable convoys of vehicles to travel nose to tail in close proximity in separate lanes, breaking off as necessary, to reach local destinations.

Robot cars may smack of Sci-Fi but this development could herald a massive social change and a glimpse of the future.

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10 predictions which CRASHED & BURNED….#pmot #in

FuturologyIt’s that time of year again when we all reflect on what has passed and look forward to what is to come, so here are three predictions for 2011 and beyond:-

U.K Economy – whereas there has been a resurgence in manufacturing in the U.K, and a very welcome one at that, there are an awful lot of people facing an uncertain future particularly in the Public sector where tens of thousands will return to work after the holidays to pick up their redundancy notices. On a personal level this is devastating and any talk of these people being absorbed by the private sector is complete nonsense. Some will make the transition but many will face a long painful struggle.

If you are in this position it is a time to reflect on your career and if you are lucky enough to have received a reasonable redundancy payment take time out to think about what you really want to do with your life.  Recessions are a great time for starting your own business for if you can survive a downturn you will be well placed for the future.

FTSE 100.

The Footsie 100 has been on Bull run since early 2009 and currently stands around 5800. The all time peak was around 6800 before the Crash so to assume the current Bull run will continue unabated is blindly optimistic. Shares have been a fairly “safe” option recently with interest rates at an all time low but with inflation on the increase interest rates are due to rise in the next year making Savings accounts more attractive, consequently the FTSE rally with grind to a halt in 2011.

Freelancing.

There are an estimated 1.4 million Freelancers in the U.K. representing a 14% growth in the last 10 years (Small Business Research Centre at Kingston University)  and their numbers are set to rise as this form of employment becomes more common. A significant portion are highly skilled Engineers & Project Managers.

As employers seek flexibility and to minimize severance pay, employing Freelancers at a higher day rate becomes a favored option.

So there are our predictions for 2011 which will probably go the same way as these classic “10 predictions which crashed & burned”……..

1) “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now; All that remains is more and more precise measurement.
Lord Kelvin, speaking to the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1900.

2) “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad.
The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903

3) “While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.
Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, 1926

4) “By the year 1982 the graduated income tax will have practically abolished major differences in wealth.
Irwin Edman, professor of philosophy Columbia University, 1932.

5) “Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 18,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and weigh only 1.5 tons.
Popular Mechanics, March 1949

6 “If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one.
W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954.

7) “It will be gone by June.
Variety, passing judgement on rock ‘n roll in 1955.

8) “Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition.
Dennis Gabor, British physicist and author of Inventing the Future, 1962

9) “With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself.
Business Week, August 2, 1968

10) “By 1985, air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half…
Life magazine, January 1970

A Happy New Year to you all !

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