Virtual Taste

Dr. Nimesha Ranasinghe, a National University of Singapore (NUS) researcher, has invented a digital gadget that can recreate the taste of virtual food and drinks. This so-called digital lollipop is capable of producing the four primary tastes: sweet, sour, salty and bitter.

There’s more: the NUS research team is developing Taste Over Internet Protocol (TOIP) that would allow taste information to be communicated between locations, a sort of instant taste messaging.

Potential applications of this technology could be virtually endless: health care, video gaming, social networks, digital taste sharing platforms, and many more.

Photo Credits: Jay Weidenbach
Springfield Elementary School

IBM’s “5 in 5”

ibm 5 in 5IBM just unveiled its annual 5 in 5 — five predictions about technology innovations that IBM expects will change the way we work, live and play within the next five years.

This year’s IBM 5 in 5 explores the idea that everything will learn — driven by a new era of cognitive systems where machines will learn, reason and engage with us in a more naturalized and personalized way. These innovations are beginning to emerge enabled by cloud computing, big data analytics and learning technologies all coming together, says IBM.

Over time, these computers will get smarter and more customized through interactions with data, devices and people, helping us take on what may have been seen as unsolvable problems by using all the information that surrounds us and bringing the right insight or suggestion to our fingertips right when it’s most needed. A new era in computing will lead to breakthroughs that will amplify human abilities, assist us in making good choices, look out for us and help us navigate our world in powerful new ways.

Check out IBM 5 in 5 website and find which innovations will (probably) change our lives in the next five years.

The Clash of Civilizations?

In 1992, the Harvard-based political scientist Samuel Huntington suggested that future conflicts would be driven largely by cultural differences. He went on to map out a new world order in which the people of the world are divided into nine culturally distinct civilizations.

His argument was that future conflicts would be based around the fault lines at the edges of these civilizations. He published this view in a now famous article called “The Clash of Civilizations?” in Foreign Affairs.

credit: Bogdan State et al.

credit: Bogdan State et al.

Now Bogdan State at Stanford University and associates have analyzed a global database of e-mail messages and their locations, sent by more than 10 million people over the space of a year, MIT Technology Review reports [link to original article].

They say he global pattern of connections reflects the cultural fault lines thought to determine future conflict, clearly reflecting the civilizations mapped out by Huntington.

Is growth over?

Global growth from the current industrial revolution (computers, the web, mobile phones) is slowing — especially in advanced-technology economies, and long-term economic growth may grind to a halt, Robert J. Gordon, Stanley G. Harris Professor in the Social Sciences and Professor of Economics at Northwestern University, has argued.

Growth in real GDP per capita, with actual (from .2 to 2.5 percent per year) and hypothetical paths (credit: Robert J. Gordon)

Growth in real GDP per capita, with actual (from .2 to 2.5 percent per year) and hypothetical paths (credit: Robert J. Gordon)

Now economist Paul Krugman counters in The New York Times that we are moving toward a world in which:

Big Data — the use of huge databases of things like spoken conversations — apparently makes it possible for machines to perform tasks that even a few years ago were really only possible for people. Speech recognition is still imperfect, but vastly better than it was and improving rapidly, not because we’ve managed to emulate human understanding but because we’ve found data-intensive ways of interpreting speech in a very non-human way.

However, he warns, while smart machines may make higher GDP possible,

they also reduce the demand for people — including smart people. So we could be looking at a society that grows ever richer, but in which all the gains in wealth accrue to whoever owns the robots.

What about taking into account the effects of future exponential growth of hardware and software computation and technological singularity?

Signals and Frequencies

From the Internet of Things (IoT), where we are today, we are just beginning to enter a new realm: the Internet of Everything (IoE), where things will gain context awareness, increased processing power, and greater sensing abilities. Add people and information into the mix and you get a network of networks where billions or even trillions of connections create unprecedented opportunities and give things that were silent a voice.

Cisco defines IoE as bringing together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before—turning information into actions that create new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals, and countries. (On Cisco POV, see also the video at the end of this post).

As more things, people, and data become connected, the power of the Internet (essentially a network of networks) grows exponentially. (See Metcalfe’s Law and Network effect).

A full realization of IoE will require some key enabling factors. In my opinion, the most crucial ones will be IPv6 implementation and, above all, a brand new software engineering approach. The manner in which software is developed hasn’t fundamentally changed since the 1960s. The orchestration of a paradigm shift is essential if the software industry is to ever become at least as innovative and productive as the hardware industry, which is following Moore’s Law. A new software science approach needs to be established to meet the requirements for the emerging IoE of unattended devices.

More on this subject:
What is the ‘Internet of everything’? – Answered by Peter H. Diamandis
Gartner Symposium: CIOs, Get ready for the IoE

On Accelerating Change

Albert Einstein once said that

Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.

Or not? The U.S. Air Force has released an impressive video on accelerating change, “Welcome to 2035…the Age of Surprise” (see below).

Produced by the U.S. Air Force Center for Strategy and Technology at The Air University, the video was based on Blue Horizons, a multi-year future study being conducted for the Air Force Chief of Staff, a “meta-strategy for the age of surprise”…

We can predict broad outlines, but we don’t know the ramifications. Information travels everywhere; anyone can access everything — the collective intelligence of humanity drives innovation in every direction while enabling new threats from super-empowered individuals with new domains, interconnecting faster than ever before. Unlimited combinations create unforeseen consequences.

Maybe it is just PR and nothing more, or another article about predicting history today, but the video is definitely cool. Turn up your sound, and go HD full-screen!