Earlier I crudely redivided the USA into states the size of California, its most populous state. This results in eight states. But what if old England, having abandoned Europe and been abandoned by Scotland and the other bits of its shabby island hegemony, somehow ended up in the Union?
Leaving aside all the actual important and interesting social and demographic consequences of such a near-future scenario, here's a dumb map of what America would look like if the current states were kept, but glommed together to form larger ones with the population of England—roughly 55m each.
Now you have six (not including England itself.)
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You saw the thumbnail and you came to the post, so here's the cold truth: it's just a rendering. Zont Sound's beautiful little pocket synth will have an AMOLED display, softly-backlit matte-touch controls, wireless and USB-C connections, and 3.5mm out. There's a dock that adds MIDI, writes Sean O'Kane, and at least a year of dreaming ahead of us. [h/t daneel]
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Unfortunately, it seems that it will be a long time before anyone gets a chance to play with the Zont synth: the official website says it won’t be available until the fall of 2017. And while the designer behind the project, Pavel Golovkin, claims to have industrial design experience at Nooka (a company known for its wild wristwatches), this appears to be his first attempt at making his own hardware. That’s not always a promising proposition, though Teenage Engineering pulled it off with their own (admittedly low-budget) pocket synthesizers. (In fact, Zont's already drawing comparisons to Teenage Engineering's synth.) Golovkin will start up a crowdfunding campaign for the Zont synth later this year. Here’s hoping he befriends some audio engineers in the meantime.
In 1988 Kevin Kelly (my friend and business partner at Cool Tools) edited Signal, a book about “Communications Tools for the Information Age.” With articles about smart phones, artificial life, computer viruses, interactive literature, online databases, teleconferencing, image processing, and the “world information economy,” Signal was years ahead of its time. (In 1993 it served as the prototype for Wired, the magazine Kevin co-founded.) Signal changed the way readers thought about technology – we weren’t in a computer revolution – we were in a communications revolution. Kevin understood that people were co-evolving with technology, transforming the way we received, processed, and transmitted information, both as individuals and a society.
Kevin has never stopped thinking about the implications of the communications revolution. He co-founded the first Hackers Conference in 1984, was a founding board member of the WELL (an early online service launched in 1985) and in 1990 he launched the first virtual reality conference. His first book, Out of Control, about technology’s lifelike patterns and behavior, was called “essential reading for all executives,” by Forbes. His latest book, released in June, is called The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future. This clear-eyed guide explains the twelve inevitable, interrelated technological trends (including robotics, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality) that are already disrupting every imaginable human activity, from the way we work, learn, and play, to the way we exist as a species.
Kevin Kelly's The Inevitable is available from Amazon.
In this excerpt from The Inevitable, Kevin imagines a future were people own nothing but have access to everything-- Mark
In the coming 30 years the tendency toward the dematerialized, the decentralized, the simultaneous, the platform enabled, and the cloud will continue unabated. Read the rest
"Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time," according to Alvin Toffler, who died on June 27 at the age of 87. Toffler wrote a massively best selling book of the same called Future Shock, which made him a celebrity.
I saw Alvin Toffler at a Chin Chin Chinese restaurant on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood 20 years ago. I stared at him, slack jawed, until he finally said, "Yes, it's me!" He seemed friendly, so I approached him and we talked for about 20 minutes. I was impressed with his energy level. I told him I was an editor at Wired magazine, and mentioned that we had just backed out of an IPO. "Sometimes, retreat is the smart thing to do," he said.
Some Toffler quotes:
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"You can use all the quantitative data you can get, but you still have to distrust it and use your own intelligence and judgment."
"It is better to err on the side of daring than the side of caution."
"One of the definitions of sanity is the ability to tell real from unreal. Soon we'll need a new definition."
"Anyone nit-picking enough to write a letter of correction to an editor doubtless deserves the error that provoked it."
"Technology feeds on itself. Technology makes more technology possible."
"Science fiction is held in low regard as a branch of literature, and perhaps it deserves this critical contempt.
Thinking machines are people, friend. I learned this when I chanced across electronics giant Ricoh's official corporate song. It has only 150 plays and is the only item in one of the company's myriad of localized YouTube channels, but I thought that its vision of a future alliance between man and machine compellingly inspirational. I have transcribed the lyrics below so you can sing along. There are multiple microprocessors within vocal range and all will be pleased. Read the rest
Augmented reality, where stuff is visually superimposed on the real world using special glasses or whatever, is often touted as a more convincing and likely future than, say, everyone ending up in some kind of VR entertainment matrix hooked up to nutrition and shitting tubes. Sadly, AR will be even worse, at least if it resemble Keiichi Matsuda's hellish Hyper-Reality. Read the rest
In 2002, M.T. Anderson wrote the novel Feed, which featured a future in which humans are all hardwired with computer chips (the eponymous Feeds) so they can shop. Constantly. Back then it was a comment on consumerism. Now, 13 years later, I was curious if he was sick of telling us all "I told you so." Read the rest
His name is the Tomatan, and he sits on your shoulders. The idea is that long distance runners will wear this little guy so they can consume, mid race, the anti-inflammatory nutrients in tomatoes. Read the rest
Scientists managed to link the brains of a conscious human and an anesthetized rat
, allowing the human to wiggle the rat's tail with his thoughts. And all God's creatures said, "Holy shitballs!" Read the rest
Thanks to Jurassic Park, we tend to focus on one use for the DNA of extinct creatures — resurrecting them, in full, to live here in the modern age. But it's not necessary to go that far to learn a lot about those animals, and the evolution of life, in general. At the Experimental Podcast, Stephanie Vogt talks about the paleophysiologists who are reconstructing the proteins of extinct animals
using fragments of DNA found in long-dead remains. Those proteins, simple as they may seem, hold some amazing stories. For instance, reconstructed haemoglobin from wooly mammoths could someday help doctors get oxygen to the brains of high-risk human surgery patients. Read the rest