Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Of wrong turns great and small

No mere fashion statement
As though legions of people walking around apparently talking to themselves -- immersed in remote conversation via their Bluetooth headsets -- isn't off-putting enough, Google plans to bring us voice-recognition computer-interface eyeglasses ... hideous prototype in the nearby picture. See "Head-Mounted Android: Google Reportedly Preps Connected Glasses."

In Small Miracles, I put computer-interface eyeglasses on the main character. Those glasses tracked where Brent was looking -- within the software-displayed image projected by the lenses -- by monitoring IR beams reflecting off the back of the eye. Input was entered via (trained) blinks made looking at menu items and virtual-keyboard keys. All any friend, relative, or colleague saw was his mirrored lenses. Eerily silent and quite antisocial -- but that was the point. Brent was no longer himself, exactly, and I wanted to show him losing touch with humanity.

That people may really go around online like this? I find that scary! And that Android will be the underlying software is all too ironic.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Alien aliens (more or less)

For no obvious reason, I got to thinking about my long-concluded "Alien aliens" series of posts. And decided that it wasn't -- concluded, that is. I'd omitted a key category: human-derived aliens. Hybrids, in a word. Some prefer the term transhumans.

For example: uploads. That's what you get by transferring a brain's content into a computer. Why would anyone, assuming they could? To cheat  death, perhaps -- at least till medical science can achieve immortality or transfer minds from failing bodies into new ones.

Imagine: all one's thought patterns, learned behaviors, and memories transcribed into a new form and format. However human that mind began, it has taken residence in an environment utterly alien to us Mark I humans.

The implications go far beyond the speed difference between synapses and transistors. Imagine speed-of-thought access to vast libraries. Imagine adding radar views of the world while losing some of the more familiar senses (say, smell). Imagine real-time access -- sometimes authorized, sometimes hacked -- to the net's many peripherals, from Earth remote-sensing satellites to power meters (to weaponized aerial drones?).

Surely the uploaded mind's temperament, attitudes, and interests will diverge from those of meat minds. And so: surely also its behavior.

Intrigued? Wikipedia offers s a very long list of uploads in fiction.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Float like a butterfly, sting like a ... butterfly?

A metaphorical butterfly, that is.

In Ray Bradbury's classic (1954) "A Sound of Thunder," time traveling big-game hunters shoot dinosaurs that -- as known from previous viewing of the past -- are within moments of their deaths. The hunters must stay on and shoot from levitating metal walkways, lest their footsteps do anything to alter the past. Of course, one hunter does stray from the path (speaking of metaphors). The hunting party returns to its  own time to find the outcome of a presidential election changed and a fascist coming to power.

A crushed prehistoric butterfly is found in the mud beneath the straying hunter's boot ...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Never a dull moment

Eclectic tech-related articles are once again overflowing my virtual file cabinet. You can't say I don't share ...

While the world waits to see if conventional war breaks out in the Mideast to keep Iran from going nuclear, the amateurs are having at it over the net.  See "Latest Arab-Israeli Conflict Is Growing Cyberwar."

States of the hydrogen atom
Electrons don't orbit nuclei like little planets, the Bohr model having been only an early step toward quantum mechanics. Unless it's a really big atom.  Imagine pumping up an atom (using a laser) to the size of a bacterium. At that size, it turns out, electrons do orbit like planets.  And this may offer just the trick to create a new digital storage mechanism. See "Jupiter’s orbital mechanics inspires mesoscopic physicists."