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Technology Will Save The World


Parsad
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I'm a firm believer that much of what pains humanity and the Earth, will be solved over time by technology...as long as we don't blow ourselves up and set us back 100 years!

 

Here's an article that discusses how science is slowly resurrecting organisms that have been long gone.  Cheers!

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-20/32-000-year-old-plant-reborn-from-ancient-fruit-found-in-siberian-ice.html

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Guest ValueCarl

I think we're at the cusp or edge of another GREAT BULL MARKET, and yes, it is being led by TECHNOLOGY not unlike the early nineties. This being said, I expect to see some damn WINNING tech stocks in your portfolio at the NEXT TURN!  ;D Now you're talking Parsad!   

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Technology is a bit too broad to choose winners. Don't forget - 100 years ago airplanes were high tech.

These days, everything that's "computery" is considered advanced, but do you think that 15 years from now we will still be impressed by software is? maybe, maybe not.

Maybe we will have nanochips that cure diseases, and the ones that make tons of money will be biologists and bio companies or something.

 

I do hope technology will live up to what we hope, But I doubt there will ever be a "singularity"  (for those of you who don't know- it's the theory that says that one day we will make a computer smarter than any human, and use it to build even better computers which will build better ones, so at that point technology and advancement will rise infinitely very very fast)

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I'm a firm believer that much of what pains humanity and the Earth, will be solved over time by technology...as long as we don't blow ourselves up and set us back 100 years!

 

Here's an article that discusses how science is slowly resurrecting organisms that have been long gone.  Cheers!

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-20/32-000-year-old-plant-reborn-from-ancient-fruit-found-in-siberian-ice.html

 

We can never be sure what will happen – and certainly not when – but it’s important to be prepared for what’s likely to lie ahead. And understanding the inevitable pendulum swing in the way investments are viewed – from weeds to flowers and back – is an essential ingredient in being able to do so.

 

Warren Buffett “I’ve commented about junk bonds that last year’s weeds have become this year’s flowers. I liked them better when they were weeds.”

 

 

Thank you Parsad, for planting a new crop of seeds for all of us to think ahead about.  ;)  ;D  ;)

 

Invest in companies that are helping to stimulate the biggest change in communications technology in 100 years, like IBM, Intel, DirecTV, Fairfax & Berkshire Hathaway.

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I'm definitely among the ranks of the techno-optimists. We get used to it all so quickly, but if we were transported back just a few decades ago - or if we took someone from that time and brought them to the present - we'd see pretty quickly just how wonderful progress has been.

 

Anything that can be done according to the laws of physics will eventually be done, but we do have to be careful about catastrophic risks (nuclear war, supervolcanos, asteroids, super-plagues, etc). We really don't spend enough resources to prevent these, considering just how big their impact would be.

 

There's a great book about this compiled by an Oxford University polymath (Nick Bostrom):

 

http://www.global-catastrophic-risks.com/

 

http://www.amazon.com/Global-Catastrophic-Risks-Nick-Bostrom/dp/0199606501/

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I always have mixed feelings about tech. development.  Sometimes,  it brings to mind the ST orginal episode "miri" where the society develops an anti-aging virus that runs amok killing all the adults but giving the unsupervised children extremely long lives.  Seems to me we need social development to occur at the same time. 

 

It always helps to keep things in context.  Computers are calculators, nothing more.  The only reason one could pass the Turing test is by being programmed with all the right answers.  Data speed or storage reaching a certain point does not spontaneously combust to become a "living being", so far.  It just becomes a better, faster calculator. 

 

As to the above, what if resurrecting a plant from the distant past unleashes a dormant plant virus as well, that kills the world's wheat crops.  Time to go wallow in a corner somewhere....

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Uccman, I feel similarly about computers. Most of my engineer friends tend to overestimate computers and technology IMO.

 

About the wheat crops- We don't grow as much wheat as one might think, the plant we are most dependent on is... corn. it's practically everywhere, and we're so dependent on it that a virus could really do some serious damage ,I don't think it will come from a lab though- as smart as we think we are, evolution is way, way better than us at designing things - we can't even cure AIDS because the mutations keep beating our best attempts, and that's when we know the enemy.

 

The real bummer is that the faster we advance in medicine- the more we need it. a century ago it would be rare to meet someone with glasses, now that bad eyesight doesn't get you killed- it's almost 50% in some countries. fertility treatments mean more genetically infertile people. as we advance, we will become a more dependent animal.

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It always helps to keep things in context.  Computers are calculators, nothing more.  The only reason one could pass the Turing test is by being programmed with all the right answers.  Data speed or storage reaching a certain point does not spontaneously combust to become a "living being", so far.  It just becomes a better, faster calculator. 

 

A better faster calculator that can be used for massively more interesting and useful purposes, in a much cheaper fashion than before.  For an example take a look at this TED talk:

 

 

Moores law for genetics.  Soon we'll be able to sequence our genomes for a pittance.  And by soon I mean within the decade or sooner.

 

With regards to combusting to become a living being?  That's a tough one.  There are several theories on that.  I think Ray Kurzweil thinks that it's all about the number of connections, and theorizes that computers will have the same number of connections as the brain sometime around 2035 if i remember correctly.  Also worth reading is this:

http://singinst.org/overview/whatisthesingularity/

 

But there's someone else who thinks Kurzeil radically underestimates the number of connections needed.

 

I'm really not sure whether there will be a singularity or not.  The reality is that today 'greater than human intelligence' already exists IMO.  Think about how smart someone with a computer is vs without.  Think about how smart someone who has access to the latest technology of any sort is vs someone like this:

 

http://thecnnfreedomproject.blogs.cnn.com/2012/02/13/hope-for-vietnams-children-of-the-dump/?hpt=hp_c1

 

Today we've already seen years of exponentially growing intelligence.  Computers are designed with computers. Then those new computers are used to design the next breed, which leads to exponential advancement. 

 

So there are two forces that pull on eachother I think.  The people who have access to technology get smarter and design better technology and pull away from the 'have nots'.  But then there's the other effect where things keep getting cheaper and more accessible to everyone, preventing the 'have's' from pulling away too far.  Think of how cheap it is today for someone to have a smart phone which has more tech in it than mainframes did maybe 50 years ago!  But the pace keeps increasing.  There are things like this:

 

 

basically 3d printing is becoming more and more accessible, even for biological tissue. 

 

There's also talk that some company has figured out how to take your cells and convert them back to the precursor to stem cells  (pluripotent stem cells) with full telomeres in place (resetting the time clock basically)

http://www.investorsinsight.com/blogs/john_mauldins_outside_the_box/archive/2011/02/28/want-a-new-cardiovascular-system.aspx

 

So people may not need stem cell donors they may be able to reuse their own cells.

 

Lots of stuff to be both excited about and fearful of as well!

 

But as someone else pointed out the food vs growing population part is a bit scary.  It sounds like yields are no long increasing at the same rate as before, and top soil continues to be depleted..  Not sure how much further technology can help there..

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A Conversation with Peter Thiel

 

http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=1187

 

"...We have different kinds of challenges on the government side. One is a little more philosophical in nature: We tend to think the future is indeterminate. But it used to be seen as a much more determinate thing and subject to rational planning. If it’s fundamentally unknowable, it doesn’t make sense to say anything about it. To put it in mathematical terms, we’ve had a shift from thinking of the world in terms of calculus to statistics. So, where we once tracked the motions of the heavenly bodies and could send Voyager to Jupiter over a multiyear trajectory, now we tend to think nature is fundamentally driven by the random movements of atoms or the Black-Scholes mathematical model of financial markets—the random walk down Wall Street. You can’t know where things are going; you only know they’re going to be random. I think some things are true about this statistical view of the future, but it’s extremely toxic for any kind of rational planning. It’s probably linked in part to the failure of state communist central planning, though I would argue that there is something to be said for some planning over no planning. We should debate whether it should be decentralized or centralized, but what the United States has today is an extremely big government, a quasi-socialist government, but without a five-year plan, with no plan whatsoever..."

 

 

 

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Forget the gadgets.....

 

Henry VIII lived from 1491 through 1547. He died very old (56) for his time, but 500 years ago even the 'king of the world' - had to use a cold & drafty 'long drop' from castle turret to the moat below. 300 years later (1836-1910), Thomas Crapper comes along & invents the flush toilet. By 1900 virtually every wealthy individual around the world has one.

 

If you really want to make change, this is how you do it  ;)

 

SD

 

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I am in the camp of the techo-optimists as well. I also agree that computers are basically calculators, although they have been programmed to calculate many, many different things and as times passes they will only become more competent and less expensive.

 

An example of this is the Watson computer that was on Jeopardy!. It is a very powerful computer that has been programmed to analyze many different things to spit out an answer. It did quite well on Jeopardy!. The computational power and storage space used on the machine will eventually become commonplace, although I don't know the timeframe for this. As an example, think about the computational power used in the first manned space flight compared to a modern smartphone; 1,000 times more powerful, 500,000 times more memory capacity and probably 1/1,000th of the cost. (those numbers may not be exactly correct). The point is that technology moves more and more quickly and gets better and better and cheaper and cheaper all the time.

 

Bargainman's post was very good. It outlined some of the ways that technology is being used to enhance our lives. As humans have (almost) always done, we use the best tools we have access to to create newer and better tools and continually increase our knowledge. It seems logical and likely that humans will continue to develop more and more sophisticated tools to do more and more things. Whether the Singularity will happen I'm not sure, but it sure does seem logical.

 

One of the serious issues as pointed out by Liberty is the potential for humans to use our phenomenal technology in a destructive manner. Technology is inherently neutral, but can be used for both good and bad. We as a species need to make sure we continue to use it for good as much as possible.

 

So yes Parsad, technology will almost certainly save the world.  ;)

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If Kurzweil's prediction comes true by 2019, then the entire auto insurance industry will collapse. Berkshire's Geico will be worth 25-40 billion by 2019 and may just vanish.

 

Computers do most of the vehicle driving—-humans are in fact prohibited from driving on highways unassisted. Furthermore, when humans do take over the wheel, the onboard computer system constantly monitors their actions and takes control whenever the human drives recklessly. As a result, there are very few transportation accidents.

Most roads now have automated driving systems—networks of monitoring and communication devices that allow computer-controlled automobiles to safely navigate.

 

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Forget the gadgets.....

 

Henry VIII lived from 1491 through 1547. He died very old (56) for his time, but 500 years ago even the 'king of the world' - had to use a cold & drafty 'long drop' from castle turret to the moat below. 300 years later (1836-1910), Thomas Crapper comes along & invents the flush toilet. By 1900 virtually every wealthy individual around the world has one.

 

If you really want to make change, this is how you do it  ;)

 

SD

 

Thomas Crapper? really? :P

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Technology is inherently neutral, but can be used for both good and bad.

 

Exactly. "Technology" just means better tools. Better tools empower groups and individuals to solve bigger problems. Better tools also empower groups and individuals to cause bigger problems, either intentionally or accidentally.

 

Buffett has said many times that his greatest fear is the threat of nuclear proliferation. That is a very rational fear to have. Sooner or later, a nuclear weapon is probably going to get used again by somebody. A nuclear weapon in isolation has the potential to kill a few million people, but newer technologies will have bigger consequences. The same tech that will empower us to eradicate horrible diseases will also enable to us to create even more horrible diseases, one of which could eradicate us.

 

As technology progresses and our tools get more powerful, the stakes for our species (and those co-habitating with us) just get higher and higher. And I honestly don't think anyone can say what the endgame looks like. Technology could "save the world" but it could also eventually end the world as we know it.

 

Better to be an optimist, though. Life is happier that way.  :)

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If Kurzweil's prediction comes true by 2019, then the entire auto insurance industry will collapse. Berkshire's Geico will be worth 25-40 billion by 2019 and may just vanish.

 

Computers do most of the vehicle driving—-humans are in fact prohibited from driving on highways unassisted. Furthermore, when humans do take over the wheel, the onboard computer system constantly monitors their actions and takes control whenever the human drives recklessly. As a result, there are very few transportation accidents.

Most roads now have automated driving systems—networks of monitoring and communication devices that allow computer-controlled automobiles to safely naviga

 

All well and good until you get "general protection fault" while your in heavy traffic at 100 km per hour.

 

Or the "blue screen of death" as we call it at work.  Kurzweil is brilliant, but a bit of a wack job at the same time.  Did you know he takes mouthfuls of vitamins every day, in hopes that it will slow down the aging process.  I bet it speeds up the digestive process requiring him to use more NBSK.

 

 

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I am in the camp of the techo-optimists as well. I also agree that computers are basically calculators, although they have been programmed to calculate many, many different things and as times passes they will only become more competent and less expensive.

 

An example of this is the Watson computer that was on Jeopardy!. It is a very powerful computer that has been programmed to analyze many different things to spit out an answer. It did quite well on Jeopardy!. The computational power and storage space used on the machine will eventually become commonplace, although I don't know the timeframe for this. As an example, think about the computational power used in the first manned space flight compared to a modern smartphone; 1,000 times more powerful, 500,000 times more memory capacity and probably 1/1,000th of the cost. (those numbers may not be exactly correct). The point is that technology moves more and more quickly and gets better and better and cheaper and cheaper all the time.

 

Bargainman's post was very good. It outlined some of the ways that technology is being used to enhance our lives. As humans have (almost) always done, we use the best tools we have access to to create newer and better tools and continually increase our knowledge. It seems logical and likely that humans will continue to develop more and more sophisticated tools to do more and more things. Whether the Singularity will happen I'm not sure, but it sure does seem logical.

 

One of the serious issues as pointed out by Liberty is the potential for humans to use our phenomenal technology in a destructive manner. Technology is inherently neutral, but can be used for both good and bad. We as a species need to make sure we continue to use it for good as much as possible.

 

So yes Parsad, technology will almost certainly save the world.  ;)

 

Morgan, you may find this to be interesting about Watson.

 

http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/35402.wss

 

It looks like IBM's Watson is diving into health care!

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This is going to change the way we are all connected.  Giving us a connection to the noosphere every waking hour of the day. Navigation by slight head movements is genius.  Not saying that Google will corner the market on this or even that Google's version will be successful.  Just that something like this will be ubiquitous in very short order and will change the way we interact in both our personal and business lives.  Leading eventually to contact lens type versions and ultimately to implants which tap into the optic nerve or directly into the vision centers of the brain. 

 

Google to Sell Heads-Up Display Glasses by Year’s End

 

To get an idea of the type of tech and societal changes that are possible with this read the sci-fi books "Daemon" and its sequel "FreedomTM" both by Daniel Suarez.

 

--Eric

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Morgan, you may find this to be interesting about Watson.

 

http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/35402.wss

 

It looks like IBM's Watson is diving into health care!

 

Ha! That's pretty cool! I can just see it now... Every doctors office will have a "Dr. Watson Medical Terminal" on hand to speed up patient interactions. Or more interesting yet, remove the doctors office and just visit a "WellPoint Watson Center" for fast and accurate medical diagnosis. Each location could have a number of "Dr. Watson's" there. Put them into little cubicles and have the patient walk in and talk to the machine. The voice would be strong and relaxing to make the patient feel comfortable and confident in its diagnosis. Then have an inventory of medicines on hand that could be spit out to patients.

 

Hmmm. Thinking about how to make sure "Dr. Watson" would stay up to date. Would it simply be software that is updated periodically? I imagine it would. There would eventually be problems with that. I wouldn't be surprised at all if people tried to influence Dr. Watsons decisions. Either for purely nefarious purposes or for economic gain (a la spit out a brand name pill in stead of a generic). How would this be regulated to help make sure that doesn't happen? If the machine is gathering data, how would it determine the good from the bad?

 

So many things to think about... Good share Ross!

 

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Eric Schmidt thinks technology will help save the world.

I tend to agree, if governments get out of the way (and stop murdering people and destroying things) there is a lot we can accomplish as a species. And even if they don't get out of the way voluntarily, as Schmidt points out, technology may just help us push them out of the way.

 

Google: Technology is making science fiction real

 

"People who predict that holograms and self-driving cars will become reality soon are absolutely right," Schmidt told thousands of attendees at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the planet's largest cell phone trade show....

 

It will redefine the relationship these people have in the world. In times of war and suffering, it will be impossible to ignore the cries of people calling out for help," Schmidt said. "In this new world there will be far fewer places for dictators."

 

That already happened during the Arab Spring that saw governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya fall, with more turmoil still under way in places like Syria.

 

"With information comes power and with power comes choice, and smarter resourceful citizens are going to demand a better deal for their communities," Schmidt said.

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The one wet blanket to all this talk of accelerating cycles and innovation is energy. Gates talked about it recently and it sounds like the problems are just not like the tech sector.  In part because of regulation and infrastructure, but also just the scientific challenges and underfunding.:

 

http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/smart-takes/bill-gates-us-energy-research-underfunded/23521

 

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Here is a neat video from Ted.

 

In the video he briefly mentions Watson and how it is really good at detecting the nuances of the human language. Imagine when that type of technology is given away (like Wolfram Alpha) and the people all over the world have smartphones with high speed internet connectivity. Imagine someone in the African desert using their smartphone to ask Watson a question. That will change their life dramatically. The future is only going to get better from here on out.

 

 

Cheers!

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I'm just weeks away from finishing a bachelor's degree in computer science, and so my circle of competence essentially consists of technology. I know that a lot of capital expenditure is necessary to stay ahead in the tech industry, but I also have some idea of what makes a good tech company or a bad one, having worked for several. I'm going to start researching Intel, since they have a processor in every PC and Mac. I don't even need to be right about Microsoft v. Google v. Apple, they all use Intel hardware.

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