Tag Archives | nanotechnology

How I Spent the Ice Age

 

Mountains, snow, and glacier -- Chile

[transmission begins]

Hey bud!

The new arms weren’t as much fun as I hoped they’d be, but they were sure useful during the crisis.

As you know I’m not really into the bodmod community, but I’d always thought it would be cool to be able to swing from tree to tree, the way we saw the Reclaimed Gibbons do in the preserve, when we were in high school. Yeah, the one down in Souwesto, near the ruins of Toronto, remember? That was a great trip.

Check these out: I got new arms a few weeks before it started. They weren’t actual Gibbon arms, of course, but a beautiful bit of work by a friend of mine, who dabbles in bio-enhancement. She mostly works with nano, but I keep telling her she has a real flare for the genetic arts too, so she did a combination. The plan was to spend my vacation swinging with my simian friends in Souwesto. Tree swinging that is.

Of course I got the hair on them; I’m not totally fake!

My musculature had just finished healing — even with the latest developments, flesh bodies adapt slowly to nano — but I don’t need to tell you that do I? Duh. I sometimes forget that we’re all real time now, even you guys on Big Red.

Anyway, the worst happened while we were at the peak of seeding the atmosphere with sulphur to counteract the Great Warming. Multiple eruptions all around the world. Temps dropped. The snow started falling. Piling up. And bam. Ice age.

In miniature, anyway. Of course, it couldn’t last, but the damage. Wiped out my Gibbon buddies in Souwesto. And froze all of us out of Nunavut.

But these babies were awesome. You know how much easier it is to ski and snowshoe if your arms can provide half the power? The hair was useful too — an extra layer for warmth. And I’ve been told big arms are awesome in zero-G, so I think I’ll keep them until after I visit you.

Though I’m sure it still won’t be as weird as your green skin, man. That I have to see with my own eyes.

Feeling the chill? Warm yourself up with some funny fiction.

Books of Mark A. Rayner

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Alltop swings with the yuks. Photo by Stuck in Customs.

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Municipal Investment Strategies for the Technological Singularity

The Technological Singularity

An Open Letter to Town Council

Dear Councillors:

Your town may have an emergency plan, a development plan, a health plan — it may even have a plan for how to fix the potholes (though I doubt it).

But does it have a plan for how to respond to the technological singularity? Is it preparing for all the new economic opportunities? I suspect not.

Now, some have complained that that technological singularity is the “rapture for nerds”, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is the municipal investment opportunity of the ages! Forward-thinking municipal governments can start preparing now, and be ready to reap the rewards of the point in human history when human intelligence is not only exceeded by machine intelligence, but when human intelligence is merged with (or eradicated by) machine intelligence.

You’re thinking: “well, sure I’d love to help get ready for this, but realistically, how do we plan? We don’t even know if regular flesh-and-blood humans will be around to experience the singularity.”

Of course we will!

Ray Kurzweil believes that we’ll be able to model the human brain by 2029, and create algorithms based on those models to allow computers to gain human-like intelligence. But is anyone working on a way for computers to go to bars and get drunk and hook up with other drunken computers so that they can “make a mistake” and then squirt out new computers? I doubt it.

So there you go: invest in light manufacturing. There will definitely be a need for humans to help create our new overlords.

But there’s so many other possibilities! What if the technological singularity is based more on nanotechnology than it is on the gross, large-scale electronics of our current era? Here too, prescient town councils can make good investments for the future. It will certainly be easier for the new machine overlords to replicate themselves in mass quantities if our human immune systems do not fight them at every stage. This leads to so many possible avenues of fruitful research: immune-suppressing drugs, radiation, surgery, bio-engineering, even psychology might (finally) prove itself useful by producing a technique by which humans could allow supra-intelligent nanomachines to use their bodies to reproduce.

We’re only scratching the surface here, obviously.

Many municipalities invest much of their resources in policing and this is an area where they will find huge savings, but only if there is a good interface between humans and our new machine overlords. Apart from the aforementioned research opportunities, municipal governments should begin looking at some kind of cybertronic peace officer corps now, to acclimatize citizens early — after all, an easily controlled citizenry is a productive citizenry! This could be as simple as implanting some kind of control chip in police headgear (hats, caps, flak helmets) to something more radical, such as embedding a semi-live police officers in a mechanical exoskeleton armed with rapid-fire pistols and a loudspeaker-augmented voice.

Municipal leaders should prepare for the darker predictions of how a technological singularity plays out. What if the new machine overlords simply wish to rid themselves of the human population?

There is a simple solution for this problem, and it is summed up in two words: rotating knives.

We’re pretty sure that would never happen, but even if it does, what if you’re the first town to think of it, and sell the process?

Think of the revenue. You could cut taxes. Contact us for more details.

Yours Truly,

Genghis Toon,
President,
Oberdyne Industries, “The Helping Corporation”

Alltop has an investment strategy for funny. Originally appeared on Grasping for the Wind, Aug. 9, 2010. Photo by Planetart via Flickr.

This short piece is included in my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures. You should really get a copy before those knives start a-whiring.

Professor Quippy: How would you like your robot apocalypse — in replicators or gray goo?

Professor QuippyResearchers at the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh are trying to kill us all!

Seriously, they are excited about a project they’re working on, the goal of which is to create “swarms of microscopic robots capable of morphing into virtually any form by clinging together.”

Seth Goldstein, who leads the research project says the goal is a distant one.

Seth, Seth, Seth, have you never read any science fiction? This little science project can only end one of three ways:

  1. you won’t be successful
  2. the tiny robots will start replicating themselves mindlessly, eating all living matter on Earth and covering it with gray goo similar to the kind found in Cloris Leachman’s strainer baskets
  3. the tiny robots will become self-aware, impersonate the human form, and proceed to run amok, destroying human civilization in an orgy of dispassionate, logical carnage (probably by turning their arms into broadswords and engaging in a grand human decranialization project).

According to the New Scientist:

Ultimately, Goldstein believes his claytronic robots may one day achieve this [higher intelligence], and much more: “I’ll be done when we produce something that can pass a Turing test face-to-face,” he says. “You won’t know if you’re shaking hands with me or a claytronics copy of me.”

Personally, I’m pulling for #1. No offense Seth.

Mark’s short story, Hounding Manny, (originally published in Oceans of the Mind, Fall 2002) is a touching childhood romp about the moon, bullying and gray goo. More romping (both gooey and childish) may be found at here.