28 Mar

The death of the perception of innovation

A very thinky, solid look at how our constant, real time news atmosphere kills the perception of innovation. I have to agree, the stuff that’s happening right now is pretty amazing and I struggle to keep up. However, the ‘if it bleeds it leads’ atmosphere of hourly news that most people are engaged in leads to a dystopic and negative view of a world that actually contains a fair number of marvels going on.

“Even though its confluences can cause rapid shifts in technology, innovation is made of many long series of evolutions — not revolutions.

Take the good ol’ microprocessor. You’d be hard pressed to find a technological developments in the last century that’s more important. Critics of today’s progress love to point at it and say, ‘Why don’t we have moments like that anymore?’ Yet it took decades, a century even, of research to finally put the workable technology in practice.

But what did the public see? They saw companies like Fairchild Semiconductor put it all together and come out of nowhere to dominate the industry (for a while).

Yet the Internet affords us the opportunity to see the evolution of technology in all of its little increments. Each new research paper, previously confined to expensive journals, is now digested and simplified in blogs and cutting edge news sites, providing a constant flavor of the future. Every new direction or investment — self-driving cars! — for a tech company does the same.

Back in ‘the day’ there weren’t bloggers tracking Fairchild or other huge tech companies’ every move. There weren’t Twitter debates about whether the economics of a semiconductor could work. The general population didn’t have media outlets that echoed boardroom disagreements — and how it might affect their promise of one day releasing this ‘semiconductor.’”

(Via The Internet killed (the perception of) Innovation | The Technology Chronicles | an SFGate.com blog.)

27 Mar

Veti-Gel covers any wound and stops bleeding

Or, for those of you who have played Halo: Biofoam!

“Veti-Gel is said to dramatically speed the body’s natural clotting, closing wounds in seconds. It instantly tells the body, ‘OK, stop the bleeding,’ but also it starts the healing process.

‘I have seen (Veti-Gel) close any size wound that it is applied to,’ said Landolina. ‘As long as you can cover it, it can close it,’ he added.”

(Via Veti-Gel Instantly Stops Bleeding and Closes Wounds of Any Size it Can Cover.)

23 Mar

The decoupling of drivers from population growth

This chart is damn useful. Can you see the point at which population and licensed car drives decouples? It’s somewhere between 1991-1997:

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What happened between 1991-1997 that began a shift in perception among young drivers?

While the decoupling is still not super drastic, that’s not a surprise. Like when a train car continues to follow along out of momentum, they still look close. But what happens as the decoupling continues?

Most American infrastructure decisions are made by people who live with assumptions that there is a coupling in that chart because they grew up during the coupling period.

“There has been lots of speculation about why fewer young people are getting driver’s licenses (and why even those who do have them seem to be driving less). Is it the economy, which has been particularly brutal for young people lately? Is it the rising cost of gas? Is it the tougher driver’s licensing laws that make it more expensive and difficult to get a license? Is it because young people are too busy cuddling with their iPhones and iPads to get behind the wheel?

There are arguments to be made for any and all of these explanations. But less often is the question asked: Why does it matter that young people just aren’t that into cars anymore?

One important reason it matters is because today’s young people are tomorrow’s main users of our transportation systems. If the useful life of the transportation infrastructure we build today — the highways, light rail lines, bike lanes and sidewalks — is roughly 40 years, that neatly envelops the peak earning and daily travel years of people currently in their late teens and early twenties. If fewer Millennials are driving, that should influence our choices about how we invest in transportation.”

(Via As Youth Driver Licensing Dips Again, A Focus on the Millennials | Streetsblog Capitol Hill.)

18 Mar

Oxford University study suggests poorest countries might see acute poverty gone in 20 years

Positive futurism on a grim news day thanks to Ramez Naam on twitter:

“World poverty is shrinking and developing countries are becoming less poor according to a new study by Oxford University. 

Nepal, Rwanda and Bangladesh were the ‘star performers’ of the 22-country study carried out by the  Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), followed by Ghana, Tanzania, Cambodia and Bolivia.

The report predicts that some of the poorest countries in the world could see acute poverty eradicated within 20 years. “

(Oxford University study suggests world poverty is rapidly shrinking | Mail Online.)

18 Mar

Storified twitter exchange between Stross and me about China’s $250 billion edu initiative

Charles Stross and I were both thinking out loud on twitter about the implications of China’s announcement of $250 billion in educational investment:

13 Mar

A brighter future than expected?

An interesting optimistic look at abundance futurism:

It isn’t just aluminum that has become abundant. So have electrical power, refrigeration, television, telephones, cars, and air conditioning. Two hundred years ago, kings and queens didn’t have these luxuries; today, even many people who are classified as poor in the U.S. do. This prosperity has not reached most of the developing world—yet. But the proliferation of mobile phones shows what is possible. Within 10 years, their numbers have gone from zero to nearly 1 billion in both India and China. Even the poorest villagers own them. Mobile phones changed the lives of millions of families who were cut off from each when they went to cities to work and they transformed society.

We are also making headway in solving the global water crisis. Waterborne viruses are responsible for the majority of disease in the developing world. There are predictions that countries such as India, China, and parts of the Middle East will run out of water and that wars will break out over supplies. This seems paradoxical: 71% of the earth’s surface is water, and sanitizing and converting seawater is as simple as boiling it and condensing the vapor. The problem is the cost of energy—it is prohibitively expensive to do this in quantity.

Two exciting solutions to the water problem are already working and ready to scale.

08 Feb

The upcoming US generational shift few are paying attention to

Chris Mims notes on twitter:

Gen-Y-ers asked if they preferred 25 minute drive, or 50 min. bus-ride, WITH WIFI. 80% chose latter. 80% of Boomers chose car.

Boomers, of course, dominate politics and choices about infrastructure. For all their talk of planning for the future, it’s quite clear this is one of the most massive breaks with Gen-Y and boomers. Gen-Y has different expectations about what ‘freedom’ means. Freedom is the freedom to play/socialize/work while going somewhere.

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pic via Flickr user jpott

Boomers believe that the monthly cost of a car, insurance, infrastructure cost of roads, and the time cost (and loss of cognitive surplus spent by hours of commuting) are freedom.

Boomers are going to get old and retire soon, and find it harder and harder to drive around the world they created. They’ve left most of their parents to sit in retirement homes, often with limited access to a wider world because they can’t drive as it is.

Gen-Y already mostly rejects the car-centric world they created. Driving licenses are the on the decline. Miles driven are on the decline.

Once boomers start getting bunged into retirement home and Gen-Y has the reigns of politics, the change will accelerate. And it will be interesting.

07 Feb

Yummy look at what high speed rail could be…

Dan Geiser, and Jacki Wyse-Rhodes both pointed out this link to me of a vision for high speed rail in the US:

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Created by Alfred Twu, the map compiles visions of possible American rail systems from a long list of places and mashes them together to show what a national rail network might look like.

Interesting in that, were you to develop a real high speed rail system in the US, Chicago sort of becomes the center of it all…

11 Oct

Prediction: Brady Law for Texting While Driving

Here’s a prediction: someone, probably a teenager given a rather shocking red light run I saw recently, is going to run over and kill a kid while texting and driving. The bereaved kids parents are going to agitate politically for a law that makes it illegal to sell a cellphone data package or text package to someone with a texting while driving vehicular homicide incident on their record.