The Vatican Decides to Digitize!

Technology and religion, unless in a dystopian future (or Scientology?), always seem to be quite removed from one another. Besides some awesome papal-tweets, I have never experiences any sort of overlap between the two.

Interestingly enough, the Vatican’s has decided to digitize its library archives, which has over 40 million pages. While it is expected to take approximately four years to digitize the initial round, with some being accessible by the end of 2014. 

This excites me! My religious views aside, as a history nerd I’m thrilled to hear about this move by the Church.  Such an old library (since  1451) needs to be preserved. No matter what the contents of the more than 82,000 manuscripts, historical writings are historical writings. In fact, some of the writings date back over 1,000 years ago. The last thing our information-based society needs is another Library of Alexandria type event.

With the advancements we’ve had in technology, I grow more and more confident with humanities ability to linger on. Recording our experiences is a wonderful and vital thing. Protecting documents like the Vatican’s manuscripts allows future beings (hopefully future humans) to dive deep into a more clear understanding of the way things were.

As much as we like to pretend it doesn’t, understanding the past truly does improve one’s pursuits in the future.

 

P.S. As far as storing information, backing up your hard drive is another great way to improve your future.

 

I strongly suggest it.

 

 

And so the blind could see.

I think it is safe to say that most of the population would consider a blind man seeing to be a miracle.

If Google Glass goes as according to plan, Google will be attempting to address this feat… at least in a sense.

Google is said to we working on a “smart” contact lens with sensors that can “detect light, pattern of colors, objects and faces.” The contact wearer will be able to control a smart device through a sophisticated system of unique blinking patterns and movements.

The possibilities of this prospective Google project could help blind people see certain moving objects around them.  Hypothetically, a blind individual who is wearing the lens (which has a built-in camera) may be walking down the  road towards an intersection. The component in the contact lens that does the analyzing can process the “raw image data of the camera” to find out if there is an approaching the intersection.

If this technology were designed properly, it would revolutionize the way we age, and if implemented entirely into our infrastructure, the way our transportation system works. The improving or altering of the way individuals see in any way could potentially alter the way our society perceives things, and how society operates.

I feel as though altering the way people see things (and how they see) would have huge ramifications, and should not be so quickly overlooked.

The Realm of Originality.

When imagining the our lives in the future, we all seem to envision a futuristic society that in some way resembles a science fiction movie we’ve seen at some point.  This isn’t just how the average person thinks, but it’s how today’s tech giants are establishing there projects and objectives. While it’s produced some pretty spectacular things, is this manner of thinking the one we should be using all of the time.

For example, even within Google’s program, Google X, one of the requirements is that all of their prospective pursuits must utilize a radical solution that has at least a component that resembles science fiction.”

But is this the way we should be framing our thoughts? Should we be basing what advancements are best for our society, by evaluating the aspects of an entirely fabricated society within which Harrison Ford is a main character?

Probably not.

The technologies of the science fiction world were created to overcome the problems of particular circumstances. They foster to a specific population of (made-up) people.

While it’s fun to imagine ourselves wielding light-sabers, having self-tying shoes,  or piloting flying cars, we need to focus on our society’s current needs. We shouldn’t be closing ourselves off to the world-changing ideas that can be found in the realm of originality. We need to encourage people to explore the unknown. To dive into the undiscovered.

While sci-fi often does inspire and predict the future, it doesn’t have to be the only thing that does.

Science fiction often focuses on the potential of the human race, and the great heights we can reach. So why are we limiting ourselves to already-thought-of ideas?

 

 

Prepare to be Educatized

Technology is changing the way we perceive education. Its changing how we educate. It’s changing the way we learn, the way we way think. What does this mean for the future? How is technology re-formatting the education system?

In a lot of ways! But I would like to focus on and observe how universities have changed.

When the formal education system first started out, to hear someone speak, you had to be with them. If you wanted to read their book, you had to go to the library. This is no longer the case. The education system is being “unbundled.”

Throughout the last few years, the mobility of our technology has improved exponentially and this development, coupled with improved visual display technology, has brought us to a time when establishing hubs seems significantly less needed than in the past. People now strive to take online courses, submit work online, and can even attend lectures through Skype-like software. Universities are becoming less of place to be educated, and more of a place to experience and socialize.

samsung mobile displayIt’s not necessarily bad. I for one love the whole ‘experience and socialize’ thing. But I know if Socrates were to visit a college campus, he would be a bit blown away by the lack of scholarly in-person communication that occurs during a simple walk across the quad. With everyone’s eyes pointing down at a screen in their hands.

Interesting Quote:

“If you think about our stock keeping inside the university, there are seven big constructs: class, course, grade, credit, degree, department, major. Not one of them is real. They’re all just how we do it,” he says. “Here’s what’s real: Students are real. Knowing things is real. Being able to do things is real. People will find alternate ways to teach those things. That’s where the really disruptive stuff comes from.” -Clay Shirky, a writer-in-residence at NYU’s Journalism Institute

Not to mention, no one makes posters or uses three-ringed binders anymore.

Zoogle Glass

Google Glass. People simply love to bash it. Google’s project Glass has developed an image-problem, and it constantly endures a relentless frenzy of jokes and critiques. People often refer to Glass users “Glass-holes,” and a certain nerdiness has become associated with the technology. But we can’t forget the true potential of this device.

The device can enable those who are immobilized to see the world in a way they would otherwise be unable to. For instance, a children’s hospital in Houston, TX is participating in a program that enables ailing children to ‘visit’ the zoo! The children, who are stuck in sanitized and sometimes quarantined rooms, can explore the behind-the-scenes action that takes place at a zoo.

Unlike the pixelated and fabricated environment of Oculus Rift, Google Glass has allowed these children to forge a connection to the real world. While sometimes medicine can’t overcome an illness or disease, the unfortunate circumstances that these children where born into can sometimes only be combated with the hope and strength inspired by these glimpses of a possible life that Glass enables them to have.

As the video says, Glass is simply allowing these children to “explore the world beyond their rooms.”

 

6-year-old Jayden Neal wored Google Glass and was able to see animals at the nearby Houston Zoo.

 

Sometimes I forget that technology, while often scary and intimidating, is a power for good. It takes stories like these to remind me of the direction we’re heading as a society, and the positive changes we’re making to the world around us.

Constantly Expanding

Heartbleed has now established itself as being the Internet’s biggest security threats, but it has been around for two whole years and was only recently encountered by the masses. Every corporation and organization online is now having to scramble to eliminate the vulnerability. The bug can gain access to your information and passwords, but luckily there are a number of simple precautions one can take to combat this tricky Internet beast.

The fact that this vulnerability has existed since December of 2011 really got me thinking. I found myself asking: how could this potentially detrimental bug be incubating in our system for that long?

After considering this question, it finally hit me… the Internet is freakin’ massive!  I immediately hopped on Google and typed “vastness of the Internet.” Then, “The Internet is Big,”Massive Internet,” and subsequently went down a crazy tangent investigating the web’s history and the unsung heroes of the Internet… but anyways! There’s a lot of stuff out there.

In terms of information, it has been estimated that our brains have the potential to hold between one to 10 terabytes.  Google has estimated that the Internet is home to around 5 million terabytes. That means, it would take over one million people with 5 terabytes of brain-memory each to ‘store’ the still growing Internet!

That last part about the Internet’s growth is what really blows my mind.  Just like our constantly expanding universe, the Internet is continuously experiencing growth. The human population creates, modifies, copies, moves, and attempts to erase things online all the time.

 

With the growth the Internet has undergone, it’s not surprising that a bug like Heartbleed can go unnoticed for so long.  Being so big, one needs to understand that it can’t all be checked and monitored. The Internet, just like the real world, is full of a lot of good and a lot of bad. We simply have to do the best we can sorting it all out. The Internet is constantly growing and adapting to best work for humanity.

No wonder it is so easy to lose focus and end up watching trailers for movies you’ll never see instead. Not that I just did that…

Together While Apart

Singer Janelle Monae danced and sang alongside rapper M.I.A. during a performance of “Bad Girls,” even though they were in two completely different sides of the country.

At this New York concert, the crowd wasn’t actually seeing Monae in the flesh. They were watching a hologram, beamed onto the stage with 3D projection mapping technology.  Approximately 3,000 miles away, at Quixote Studios in Los Angeles, an M.I.A. hologram entertained an audience during Monae’s “Q.U.E.E.N.”

Mia-janelle-monae-hologram

This isn’t even the first time a hologram has stood in for an unavailable entertainer. In 2012, a holographic Tupac “performed” with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre at Coachella in 2012.

As our technology changes, it’s bizarre to consider our changing perceptions of what we consider to be authentic. Would you pay 70 dollars to watch a ‘live concert’ of a hologram? Even if you wouldn’t, I bet the next generation of viewers would be will willing. Will there ever be a point at which the options that seem so authentic will deter individuals from flocking to the arenas entirely?

I could really see this kind of hologram technology being used for this Skype-like communicating and at-home event spectating.

For me personally, there is nothing quite like the experience of a live sporting event. The smell of the ballpark franks, the touch of the wind, and the warmth of the sun on your face. Nothing can replace these kinds of feelings. Not unless it was in some way, the artificial technology could directly influence my mind…?