Archive for the ‘Business and Politics’ Category

WE HAVE MOVED!

June 10, 2012

Please note, this blog has now been integrated into the main website of FutureTimeline. You can find us here –

http://www.futuretimeline.net/blog.htm

Thank you!

The Geopolitics of Climate Change

June 3, 2012

Interesting talk by Gwynne Dyer, author of Climate Wars:

Nokia Sensing X Challenge

May 30, 2012

The X PRIZE Foundation and Nokia have announced the launch of the Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE – a $2.25 million global competition aimed at developing a new generation of health sensors and sensing technologies that can drastically improve the quality, accuracy and ease of monitoring a person’s health.

Improvements in these technologies will empower individuals to effortlessly monitor and collect their own real-time health data, providing both consumers and healthcare providers convenient access to critical information whenever and wherever they need it.

The announcement was made by X PRIZE Foundation Chairman and CEO Dr. Peter Diamandis and Nokia Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Henry Tirri during their keynote address at the Wireless Health Convergence Summit in San Diego.

“Partnering with Nokia is a natural fit for this competition. Health sensing technologies enabled by artificial intelligence, lab-on-a-chip, and digital imaging are advancing exponentially and will ultimately integrate with your phone. We need to expand sensor and sensing technology beyond disease management to areas such as public health and fitness,” said Dr. Diamandis.

“The Nokia Sensing X CHALLENGE will bring about radical innovation in health sensors and sensing technologies, which paves the way for better choices in when, where, and how individuals receive care. Ultimately, healthcare will be more convenient, affordable, and accessible to consumers worldwide through these integrated digital health solutions.”

The inefficiencies and total cost of the U.S. healthcare system (and healthcare systems around the globe) has been a pressing social and political issue for many years. In the U.S., the total spent annually on the healthcare system is more than $2 trillion, which accounts for more than 15 percent of the nation’s GDP. Health sensors have the capacity to stem this trend. Consumer use of sensors and sensing solutions has the potential to improve, extend and ease delivery of healthcare services, as well as reduce costs to the benefit of health providers and patients.

“Nokia engages in Open Innovation on many different levels; this type of ‘grand challenge’ is not only a unique method of driving significant progress in a short space of time, but one which can also help to create an entire ecosystem,” said Dr. Tirri.

“This competition will enable us to realize the full potential of mobile sensing devices, leading to advances in sensing technology which can play a major role in transforming the lives of billions of people around the world.”

Holograms to replace people at New York airports

May 28, 2012

As the summer travel season gets underway, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has announced new initiatives to improve customer service for passengers at the region’s busiest airports.

More than 106 million passengers use the agency’s three major airports each year, which in addition to LaGuardia and Newark includes John F. Kennedy International Airport. The enhancements will provide immediate results just as air travel starts to increase during the busiest time of the year. These initiatives are the direct result of a customer survey conducted by the Port Authority of more than 10,000 air passengers who evaluated their experience.

Among the new initiatives will be a 20 percent increase in the number of Customer Care Representatives during peak hours, with 70 new agents. Currently, 350 customer care agents provide valuable information to help customers navigate the airport and public transportation options. They staff the airport’s welcome centres and other high-volume terminal areas like checkpoint entry and exit areas, and are easily identifiable by their red jackets.

Given the huge volumes of international travellers, the Customer Service Representatives speak a total of 27 different languages, with English and Spanish most prevalent.

To expand on the program, the Port Authority has created an innovative pilot plan that will see five “virtual” customer care representatives. These will be computerised, hologram-like avatars providing automated information to travellers in LaGuardia’s Central Terminal Building, Newark Liberty’s Terminal B and JFK’s Terminal 5 when they are installed in early July, at a cost of $180,000.

The avatars are not interactive, but Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye is quoted as saying he “hopes a future iteration of the talking machines will hold conversations with passengers.”

The technology has already been used in France and elsewhere, but this will be the first time it has appeared in North America.

For more info, see http://www.airportone.com/

SpaceX launches Falcon 9 on historic mission

May 22, 2012

2011 witnessed the final Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and the subsequent retirement of the fleet. Two private companies – SpaceX and Orbital Sciences Corporation – were selected to provide cargo delivery services to the station until 2015, under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.

SpaceX developed the Falcon 9 – a medium-lift rocket with payload capacity of 10,450 kilograms (23,000 lb). Today, it became the first 100% commercially developed launcher to deliver a payload to the International Space Station.

NASA’s administrator Charles Bolden said: “Today marks the beginning of a new era in exploration… The significance of this day cannot be overstated; a private company has launched a spacecraft to the International Space Station that will attempt to dock there for the first time. And while there is a lot of work ahead to successfully complete this mission, we are certainly off to a good start.”

In 2013, SpaceX is planning to test a much larger rocket, with over twice the capacity of the Space Shuttle – the Falcon Heavy.

Video from NewsyScience:

Asteroid Mining: Science or Fiction?

May 14, 2012

The goal – trillions in riches from asteroids – has now been verified. But what obstacles and milestones stand along our 20 year path? In this video, astronomer and sci-fi author David Brin lays out some preliminary points to consider.

Russia develops revolutionary new rocket engine

May 9, 2012

Energomash – a Russian power and engineering firm – is reportedly developing a new type of rocket engine that could revolutionise space travel. By using acetylene and ammonia as fuel, it will be almost 20 times cheaper than a typical hydrogen-powered rocket. The engine will also be 30% more efficient than current designs.

In addition, the fuel components could be easily stored and transported, whereas hydrogen requires special storage and transportation conditions.

Energomash officials believe rockets could be launched with the new engine in 2017-2018.

Asteroid mining plans revealed by Planetary Resources, Inc.

April 24, 2012

Planetary Resources, Inc. announced today its plan to mine Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) for raw materials, ranging from water to precious metals. By developing cost-effective exploration technologies, the company aims to initiate prospecting missions targeting resource-rich asteroids that are easily accessible.

Mining from asteroids could deliver huge benefits to humanity – potentially adding trillions of dollars to global GDP. Asteroids are rich in resources, and these could provide a sustainable supply to the ever-growing population on Earth.

A single 500-metre platinum-rich asteroid contains the equivalent of all the Platinum Group Metals mined in history. “Many of the scarce metals and minerals on Earth are in near-infinite quantities in space. As access to these materials increases, not only will the cost of everything from microelectronics to energy storage be reduced, but new applications for these abundant elements will result in important and novel applications,” said Peter Diamandis, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Planetary Resources, Inc.

Additionally, water-rich NEAs could serve as “stepping stones” for deep space travel, providing fuel and water to orbiting depots. Accessing these resources in space would revolutionise exploration, making it dramatically more affordable.

“Water is perhaps the most valuable resource in space. Accessing a water-rich asteroid will greatly enable the large-scale exploration of the solar system. In addition to supporting life, water will also be separated into oxygen and hydrogen for breathable air and rocket propellant,” said Eric Anderson, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman, Planetary Resources, Inc.

Of the approximately 9,000 known NEAs, more than 1,500 are energetically as easy to reach as the Moon. The capability to characterise NEAs is on the critical path for Planetary Resources. To that end, the company has developed the first line in its family of deep-space prospecting spacecraft, the Arkyd-100 Series – Leo. This spacecraft will be used in low-Earth orbit and help to prioritise the first NEA targets for the company’s follow-on expeditions by the Arkyd-300 Series – Rendezvous Prospector.

Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer, said “Our mission is not only to expand the world’s resource base, but we want to increase people’s access to, and understanding of, our planet and solar system by developing capable and cost-efficient systems.”

“The promise of Planetary Resources is to apply commercial innovation to space exploration. They are developing cost-effective, production-line spacecraft that will visit near-Earth asteroids in rapid succession, increasing our scientific knowledge of these bodies and enabling the economic development of the resources they contain,” said Tom Jones, Ph.D., veteran NASA astronaut, planetary scientist and Planetary Resources advisor.

Planetary Resources, Inc. is financed by industry-launching visionaries including Google CEO Larry Page and Ross Perot, Jr. Among the company’s advisors is the movie director and explorer James Cameron.

  • Eric Schmidt, Ph.D., Executive Chairman of Google and a Planetary Resources investor: “The pursuit of resources drove the discovery of America and opened the West. The same drivers still hold true for opening the space frontier. Expanding the resource base for humanity is important for our future.”
  • K. Ram Shriram, Founder of Sherpalo and a Planetary Resources investor: “I see the same potential in Planetary Resources as I did in the early days of Google.”
  • Charles Simonyi, Ph.D., Chairman of Intentional Software Corporation and a Planetary Resources investor: “The commercialisation of space began with communications satellites and is developing for human spaceflight. The next logical step is to begin the innovative development of resources from space. I’m proud to be part of this effort.”

http://www.planetaryresources.com/

Asteroid mining company to be unveiled?

April 22, 2012

A group of billionaires, together with former NASA scientists, have announced Planetary Resources, Inc., rumoured to be the first asteroid mining company in history. They claim it will “add trillions of dollars to global GDP” and “help ensure humanity’s prosperity”.

The company is backed by Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, James Cameron, Charles Simonyi and other big names. It will be officially unveiled at a conference call on Tuesday 24th April.

Video by NewsyScience:

Surviving Progress

April 11, 2012

Technological advancement, economic development, population increase – are they signs of a thriving society? Or too much of a good thing? Based on the best-selling book A Short History of Progress, this provocative documentary explores the concept of progress in our modern world, guiding us through a sweeping but detailed survey of the major “progress traps” facing our civilization in the arenas of technology, economics, consumption, and the environment.

Featuring powerful arguments from such visionaries as Jane Goodall, Margaret Atwood, Stephen Hawking, Craig Venter, Robert Wright, Michael Hudson, and Ronald Wright, this enlightening and visually spectacular film invites us to contemplate the progress traps that destroyed past civilizations and that lie treacherously embedded in our own. Leading critics of Wall Street, cognitive psychologists, and ecologists lay bare the consequences of progress-as-usual as the film travels around the world – from a burgeoning China to the disappearing rainforests of Brazil to a chimp research lab in New Iberia, Louisiana – to construct a shocking overview of the way our global economic system is eating away at our planet’s resources and shackling entire populations with poverty.

Providing an honest look at the risks and pitfalls of running 21st Century “software” (our accumulated knowledge) on 50,000-year-old “hardware” (our primate brains), Surviving Progress offers a challenge: to prove making apes smarter was not an evolutionary dead end.