How to automate the process of building an entire city

It makes little sense to send people to Mars to build a city, as people need a level of infrastructure that makes living there impractical until you build the infrastructure needed to survive.

It makes a lot more sense to send machines to build the environment and send people later.

What if robots could mine raw materials, build the factories to process the raw material, build the infrastructure to build more robots that could then build everything needed to sustain life.

There is no reason why this cannot be done!

Phase 1 – Robots investigate available raw materials (survey)

Phase 2 – Robots mine raw materials (mine)

Phase 3 – Robots use the initial raw material to build refineries to produce building materials and factories (Build)

Phase 4 – Robots build more robots out of refined material (replicate)

Phase 5 – Robots now build everything needed to sustain life (buildings, machines, infrastructure) (Implement)

Phase 6 – People arrive (Immigrate)

How long would it take? 50 years, 500 years? Probably somewhere in between.

I believe phases 1 and 2 are almost practical today. While phase 3 is partially possible today.

It could be started on Earth right now. Build the technology to build cities from nothing, anywhere on the planet, and potentially beyond.

A few square miles of barren land, a lot of smart minds, enough investment to make it happen.

This is the project that is needed!










The Internet Of Objects – Ideal Or A Path To The End Of Everything

In the 1980’s and into the 1990’s there was a movement in technology towards objects. The idea was than any and all data, applications, devices etc. could be broken down into a series of discrete pieces of information, and the use of this information could be described in a consistent way. This would allow everything to work together harmoniously without complex pre-work to describe what everything was.

The issue (at that time) was that for most types of data the meta-data to describe it was actually much larger than the data itself, and this was a huge problem when networks were slower than the spoken word and data storage was more expensive than postage. So the idea slowly died and morphed, and we have been left with a really messy series of standards which make sharing data and devices complex and expensive.

Now I know that I am paraphrasing the whole issue here, but there is no doubt that where we are, is not where we want to be in terms of integrated systems.

Imagine if every piece of data was wrapped in a consistent set of metadata (data about the data).

Imagine if you were sent an email with a specific type of data attached to it, that the data would self-describe its value, keep a record of who created it, what application was needed to use it, and even where the code to use it resided.

Imagine if every internet connected device could provide details on its use, location and current state when asked. So when you enter a house and you could automatically be part of that houses network. Your environmental preferences would automatically be shared with the house, and your entertainment preferences would be available on each device in the house. Obviously assuming that you had the approval of the houses prioritized users.

Imagine that when you program your phones map app to take you to a specific place, your diary and the diaries of everyone you are meeting that day are automatically updated with travel times and arrival times. And the systems in the place you are going to are updated with your drink and food preferences and a desk is reserved for you automatically for when you arrive or the meeting room you are planning to use is automatically chosen based on the number of people who are meeting.

Imagine if in an emergency all the connected devices in a building on fire could be viewed by those trying to help. Every temperature sensor and video feed was automatically available to them, and any phone picked up would automatically connect to the on-site emergency teams without any buttons needing to be pressed. All water, gas and power would be selectively turned off or on by the emergency teams as needed.

Imagine if the sensors in every car, street light and road sign were shared amongst themselves, providing a mesh of knowledge available to every road user, and that journeys were planned with the knowledge about the current conditions, dynamically updated with the planned journeys of every other road user.

Imagine if a doctor was able to review the health data of a patient collected by the patients watch, phone, home and pharmacist building a profile of the patient’s history to help diagnose from subtle changes in their physical condition important early diagnosis of problems allowing for much better treatments.

If every piece of data and every internet connected device could describe itself in a consistent and meaningful way, the possibilities are endless.

There are of course risks associated with easier communication, risks that actually may be greater than the benefits.

It’s almost an evolutionary level risk.

Within a species a continual flow of random mutations creates the likelihood that some variants will survive in any type of changing environment or to put it another way diversity is good.

If all information systems were to follow a single standard, then the possibility would exist of total destruction of the entire system. We have already seen that computer viruses designed to attack windows systems can impact millions of systems at the same time. Smug mac users have always felt safer, but that safety only comes from the simple fact that they are a separate sub-species. It is very hard for an infection to spread across species (biological or technical), but in a world where all data and devices were unified behind one standard, that standard itself could become a risk.

The value of total interconnectivity is immense, but the implications of everything being compromised would be too terrible to consider.

Is it possible to create an interconnected would that is secure enough to be viable?

That is the cold war not just of this century but probably for the whole future of humanity.


Mustard Gas for the 21st Century

Once a terrible method of mass destruction is invented or discovered the long term potential for horror is infinite.

In world war one poisoned gas was used, and a hundred years later the potential for horror is still there.

In world war two the nuclear bomb was invented and used, and now countries across the world possess weapons that can end the world.

We’ve seen IED’s and suicide vests, made from household items, which will now be a tool of any ignorant Looney.

Now we have drones, not just the big ones run from thousands of miles away, but also the $500 models that can be used for any number of crazy attacks.

And now we’re quickly entering the world of cyber weapons which in our totally connected world can be incredibly dangerous.

Once a weapon is created is cannot be uncreated, ever.


Does the end of net neutrality mean the dream is dead?

Capitalism at its best offers a fantastic way for innovative ideas to get their moment in the sun.

The availability of capital to be risked has taken the world from kings and serfdom to a relatively amazing place. The modern industrial universe is on the internet.

So allowing the “owners” of the internet infrastructure to decide who gets to play and can charge different rates for different access is in effect removing the ability of disruptive technology to get a foot hold.

Why would a cable company want Netflix to thrive, it’s killing their old business model?

Why would a bank or insurance company want a financial service aggregator to thrive, they are forcing down prices.

Why would Google want a distributive search service to thrive, it’s could decimate their ad revenue?

Why would anyone who is in a position of power today want to allow new ideas that directly impact their current revenue stream to happen?

Well quite simply they would not.

Today a small number of very large business are intertwined and deliver the backbone and on and off-ramps to the internet. The law has until now required them to openly offer their services without consideration of the type of use their customers are putting the systems too. And this has allowed millions of new ideas to grow and be tried. Many have failed but some have become the best ideas of their time. Each one if them was disruptive, but with the end of net neutrality in the future many new ideas will not be able to compete, as the incumbents will have the ability to make disruption untenable though now legal aggressive pricing tactics.

Anyone who thinks this will not happen when net neutrality is removed just needs to look at every single other time when anti-competive ideas have been legal. Asking the wolf to guard the hen house never works. Business will always use every advantage it has, if it’s allowed it will be done. If its almost allowed it will be done. The only time a business acts ethically is when there is a material advantage in doing so. Many businesses talk about doing good, but that is simply because doing good things can be good for the balance sheet. Business is a matter of survival of the fittest, and when you allow the biggest to have a huge advantage they will always take it.

This is why rules that allow new ideas from new people to gain a foothold are so incredibly important. In the same way that the oil and car industries held back alternative fuels, electric cars and high speed rail, giving Comcast, Cisco, Google, AT&T and the rest of the current crop if internet giants a way to make new internet based ideas unprofitable can only be bad for capitalism. The rise and fall of the roman empire tells a deeply relevant story.

Let’s not allow the rise and fall of the internet to read the same way.


Generation Borg

The history of human existence has been one of supplementing our nature with technology.

Wearing clothes for protection against heat, cold or scraping dangly bits.

Using rocks and sticks to dig or hit or create chemical reactions (fire).

Writing down information on stones or in books.

And in a million other ways over the multitude of conscious millenium.

And more recently we are now living life vicariously through a little bit of glass, plastic and silicon.

The next step will be to directly interface with each sense. Google glass is showing the way, with a heads-up display of information supplemented by sound.

But how long will it be before we have direct implants into our brains to provide a whole range of additional inputs.

Initially maybe directly attaching to the optic nerve, and the signals coming from the ear. But then maybe adding direct hook-ups for smell, taste, touch. This is already being developed to help the sight impared, and I see no reason why it should stop there.

And maybe the next step should be to plug directly into memories, learning new things can be as simple as buying the module from amazon, and downloading.

And what about uploading, maybe we’re not that far away from brain backups. Keep a copy offline in case of a problem. Either do a disaster recovery or even run a copy in a disaster recovery center, basically running a copy of you in a computer or spare clone.

This may seem very weird, and fiction today. But with the rate and pace of technology development, and the changing perceptions of body augmentation, why not?

Maybe its decades, centuries or millennium away, but it seems like a reasonable extension of the human condition to continue to augment nature with technology.

Resistance is futile, assimilation may be inevitable.

I’m actually okay with that!



Breakup Note Signed by “Autopen” in Question; Relationship End Delayed 2 Months Pending Inquiry

January 3, 2013: Average Angry Wire Service:  A controversy is brewing in Washington, DC around the use of an autopen to sign an important document, namely a document which would end a controversial agreement between often arguing parties.

This is a boy-meets-girl story that began well enough on a Capitol Hill bar crawl stop at the Tune Inn dive bar and evolved into a semi-commited relationship between the two long-time singles. The relationship now includes a drawer at each other’s apartment, a joint credit card and an assumed “date” each Saturday night.  But as with many boy-meets-girl stories it got ugly after one unfortunate “toilet non-flushing” too many. Screaming, name calling and a storming out followed and then a few days later the “note” appeared in the boy’s Google + account.

The autopen is mightier than the swirl?
The autopen is mightier than the swirl?
The girl in question (Nancy), states that “It’s over!” and that autopen is a perfectly acceptable way to authenticate a breakup, BFF status change or other relationship decision.  Her former love (John, but known as “Boner” by friends and colleagues), disagrees and adamantly states that the breakup “isn’t the real deal without a real quill.”  He also refuses to relinquish her drawer, end their fiscal entanglements or change his Facebook relationship status until she returns from her family vacation in Hawaii (so they can come to a resolution face to face on neutral territory in Washington).

His challenge to the validity of the “Dear Boner” letter has caused Nancy stress on her Hawaiian vacation, according to her spokesperson, and almost led to her canceling a much anticipated golf game and cliff diving tour with the newly elected president of the local American Legion hall in Waikiki Beach.  Her spokesperson also stated that she’ll deal with the problem in 2 months when she returns to DC and that her debt to him will eventually be paid off and won’t cause his Visa account to reach its ceiling and hurt his credit rating.

Sources familiar with the couple said they couldn’t elaborate on the bathroom incident but heard her threaten him with a “swirly” or similar swirl related toilet action if he didn’t “clean up his act.”


The Bradley Fighting Stroller (and Reinforcements)

When did baby carriages and strollers start to come outfitted like Bradley Fighting Vehicles being reinforced for DMZ combat?   Do we really need strollers with, “coil spring and elastomer core shock absorbers and pneumatic tires with schrader valves?”

This 2-turret model enables 360 degree viewing coverage by a pair of driver/occupants

These tricked out behemoths are taking over our sidewalks (which are already made smaller because every bar, deli and diner now has a Frenchie style “sidewalk café” table or two in front).  The last time I checked they were still called sideWALKs, not sideSITs and they certainly weren’t designed for NASCAR-style stroller racing by Manhattan mommies in their sparkling Skechers Shape-ups.

I thought I had seen it all in the strollers as monster trucks category but I was wrong.  I’ve now also seen a triple decker model as well… that’s right, a double stroller with a 3rd crow’s nest seat bolted on above the double (I would assume that the kid that gets that “pole position” spot earned it at potty training time-trial qualifying).

What’s next?  Motorized baby cycles with sidecars à la Col. Klink and Sgt. Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes?  I sincerely hope that just by saying that I haven’t inspired Vespa or BMW to enter the fray.

An urban “tiny tank” factory has opened in my once-safe neighborhood

Update:  Since my first battles with these combat-ready baby and toddler tanks that were imported from NJ or Long Island a new menace has been added to the war zone – it is called “Giggle” and it produces all manner of sidewalk carnage-causing machines in my own freaking neighborhood!

This cannot stand!  We must rise up and take back our sidewalks or who knows what is next!  Who’s with me?



Who Writes the Epitaph?

Consider Gore, Al.  For a guy who was never president, he’s incredibly well known for a great many things.  Which one will rise to the top and be his final 1-line epitaph?  Some possibilities include:

– 1/2 of the fiery young Clinton-Gore presidential team for 8 years who drove the “Reinventing Government” initiative to cut waste and red tape in Washington, DC

– Inventing the Internet (and making us capitalize “Internet”)

– “Inventing” the Global Warming issue (or the GW myth if you’re skeptical), and winning the Nobel Prize for it

– Losing his home state of Tenessee (with 11 Electoral votes) in a presidential election he lost by 5 Electoral votes

Candidate Gore’s famous on-stage kiss

– The icky, creepy on-stage, on-air erotic kisser of Tipper “Parental Advisory record labels” Gore

– Hanging chads and the most controversial election result in generations

– Co-founder of “Current TV” network (with Joel Hyatt)

…Or will Mr. Gore just be best remembered for being a hilarious “head-in-a-jar” (a preachy, boring one at that) on the animated TV show Futurama?

So, will Albert Arnold Gore, Jr. best be remembered for something “positive” or something “negative?”

There’s a saying from an Australian philanthropist, lifesaver and pubbuilder known as Sheepshagger John which may help you predict the answer, “You know, a man can do a thousand great things, but if you “shag” one lousy sheep…”– (5) (7)


Where does it go then?

Every day thousands of power stations around the world burn dead animals and plants to create heat to boil water into steam, and then they use that steam to push the blades of turbine fans which in turn push rotors with magnets on them which turn magnetic fields, inducing electrons in coils to move. It’s a little more complex than that, but only a little. We generate power by burning coal and oil to run steam engines.

You’d think that over a century after the end of the victorian age we would have found better ways to generate power, and while we have, they are nowhere near as economically powerful as fossil fuels. Sunlight, wind and waves are not a consumable commodity that can be traded as easily.

There is of course a lot of industry focused on the creation of new forms of power stations, but none of them offer the lucrative business model of oil, gas and coal. And for this reason a huge amount of money is spent to convince the world that global warming isn’t real.

Clearly when you pump millions of tons of shit into the atmosphere it must have some effect. It turns out that much of the crap pumped out creates a nice duvet for the planet, causing the average temperature to raise just a tiny amount. But it also turns out that even a tiny amount has a huge cumulative effect.

Every year the earth wobbles on its axis, absorbing the suns energy in slightly different amounts in different places. Add to this that the sun’s energy output varies every year as well. Well it seems that the ecosystem we have on earth has evolved to fit within these parameters. So when you add even a very slight change to the way in which the earth deals with what it absorbs you will have some years when the maximum and minimum levels that is the earths normal cycle are exceeded.

What does this mean in real terms.? Well it’s not easy to calculate but smart minds have been looking at this issue for a while and have determined that it will mean, changes to sea level, larger storms, longer draughts, hotter summers, colder winters and generally things that we would prefer not to happen.

Of course those who prefer to keep pumping huge amounts of crap into the atmosphere have decided that this is horse crap.

It always amazes me how people with a vested interest in a situation are so clear that they are right, and are willing to invest heavily in promoting their “rightness” even when there is absolutely zero supporting evidence.

I loved the movie “thank you for smoking”, and I can’t wait for the sequel “there’s nothing like a clean coal powered power station”

There is always the possibility that all of science is wrong, and that global warming isn’t happening. But since the only people who don’t believe it are actually paid not to believe it (oil, coal, gas industries and those they pay who run political parties etc.). yet the people who are saying that it is an issue, are not making money out of there being global warming (except for those who write books on the subject I suppose), then it seems most likely to me that it’s absolutely a real threat.

Slowly but surely the commodities industries are working out how to make money out of non-fossil based energy creation. When they have a viable model, I suspect that all of a sudden they will want to make the change, and be seen as heroes, but until then we will have to listen to the likes of Al Gore drone on about the terrible effects of global warming.

Please fossil fuels industry, please find an answer soon. If not to save the world from terrible natural disasters, as least to save us from pious ex-politicians.



Who will be the next blackberry?

There was a time when to send a message you would pay a man to carry your note to its destination.

There was a time when you could take your note to the post office, and they would take your note to its destination.

There was a time when you would write out your message on a form and the man at the telegraph office would transmit your note to the telegraph office near its destination.

There was a time when to make a call you would pick up the earphone, and talk into the mouthpiece and ask the operator for the person you wished to speak to.

There was a time when to make a phone call you would pick up the receiver and turn the rotary dial to send pulses down a cable to a robot in an exchange that would rotate to plug in the digits and complete the connection to your destination.

There was a time when to make a call you would extend the antenna on your phone, punch in the digits and press send.

There was a time when to send a message you would type the message on your blackberry and press send.

There was a time when to make a call you would ask siri to call that person and their face would appear on your iPhone.

There was a time when to call someone you would move your eyes to the call icon and say the name of the person you want to speak to, and their face would appear on your head up display.

There was a time when to call a group you touched your implant and thought of their names and their images would appear in your minds eye.

There was a time when it started to be weird… I just can’t remember when it “started” to be weird.


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