Social Media on Your Walls

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Art

Immersive, three dimensional, virtual reality comes to social networks and into your home.

My son, Lucas, and I got the chance to try Oculus Rift — a headset that immerses you into a 3-dimensional virtual space — before it hit the market. Besides feeling a bit of motion sickness, I had the feeling I had seen the future. Now things have gone to the next level.

Here’s a short video that demonstrates how oculus rift can make your entire room a virtual reality space.

Remember the fictional holodeck, the virtual reality space on the Starship Enterprise? Well once again, science fiction takes a step closer to reality. Oculus Rift has obvious benefits for gamers but, since we’re comparing reality to science fiction, prepare for the powers of the dark side, the inhumane porn industry , to lead the way.

What impressed me the most is the nonchalant way the writers of these pieces talk about the porn industry as if it were just a normal (acceptable?) part of society.

It would be so easy to get excited about this new technology if it didn’t portend a future of young men lost in a dehumanizing world of virtual sex. The battle for the future minds, wills, and lives of the young is further endangered by a society that is the 21st century blossoming of the 1960’s “me generation” with its progressive dogmas characterized by the proverbs, “who are you to judge others?” and “if it feels good do it.”

There will always be those who earn their living by exploiting the vices of others. But we are now living in a culture without virtue, a culture that speaks of those who prey on the weaknesses of the young and the vulnerable as if they’re just nice guys in the neighborhood. Culture is becoming partner to the predators. As a balancing factor, not everyone is convinced that 3-D VR will be successful. But eventually VR will be a part of the human experience.

“If you think you’re impressed now, just wait till the boys over at PornHub get ahold of this technology.”


The World’s First Family Robot

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Art

Jibo wants to be a member of your family. Jibo is a very sleek and, dare I say, cute little robot that is both humanly warm and helpful. It will keep you company. Order your dinner. Give you reminders. Take your pictures. And talk to you all day. The creator of Jibo wants us to think of technology as a partner in your everyday life not just a tool to accomplish a task. This will be a major shift in the relationship between man and machine. Aesthetically, Jibo reminds one of Eve, the female robotic love interest in the Pixar movie Wall-e. The game changer with Jibo is it’s predictive programming that not only remembers your preferences and choices but anticipates your wants and needs. Could this be the next step towards a mind-numbing life not unlike Captain B. McCrea and passengers of his spaceship, Axiom?

This is a significant step towards the humanization of robot-to-human interaction. The interactive experience has a very human-esque quality to it. This further blurs the line between humans and technology. Seeing robots as partners is a significant expression of that blurry line. It paves the way for robots to function as replacements for real human beings.

The convergence of articulated mechanical hands and feet, affectionate robots ( see scan hit on The World’s First Affectionate Robot), and predictive programming can become a major step towards creating human like androids.

Could these androids and our dependency on them eventually replace people who have traditionally functioned as PSWs, EMTs, nanny’s, and babysitters? Could predictive programming potentially diminish our capacity to think for ourselves?

“Things begin to get complicated when robots go beyond basic manual, bureaucratic, and cognitive labor and become tools for us to outsource intimate experiences and functions to. Part of Jibo’s appeal is that it will let you to stop thinking. That is a disconcerting change, one which over time, can profoundly impact who we are.”

-Evan Selinger, WIRED


Robot Servants Are Going to Make Your Life Easy. Then They’ll Ruin It

THE DOCTOR IS IN — Virtual humans help us be more honest


Some first research exploring how people are more honest and less embarrassed when sharing very personal details with a virtual Human than they are with the real thing. There is the promise of help for people struggling with serious mental anguish, including post-traumatic stress. 


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Research carried out by the University of Southern California is the first of its kind and shows a willingness on the part of patients to divulge even very embarrassing information if they believe there is no human involved.

Subjects recruited through Craigslist aged between eighteen and sixty five were evaluated using SimSensei, a virtual human application able to pick up signals of depression and anxiety through both real-time sensing and non-verbal behaviours.

The aim is to see whether such technology can be of help to real people. The virtual human Ellie would ask questions, feedback, and express empathetic listening, thereby developing rapport and not judging – two important things when it comes to disclosing personal information important to the beginning of diagnosis and therapy.


Whilst the researchers point out this is not a replacement to real people offering the necessary care and support, but a way of opening up the process with more important and critical information being available sooner.

I find it fascinating how people can be more honest to a virtual human and wonder about how this will not only be something which helps more serious mental conditions but also those carried around by people which inhibit them from flourishing in their lives.



“The study provides the first empirical evidence that virtual humans can increase a patient’s willingness to disclose personal information in a clinical setting. It also presents compelling reasons for doctors to start using virtual humans as medical screeners. The honest answers acquired by a virtual human could help doctors diagnose and treat their patients more appropriately.” (Tanya Abrams – USC)

“One participant who thought the virtual human was automated said the experience was “way better than talking to a person. I don’t really feel comfortable talking about personal stuff to other people”.” (Tanya Abrams – USC)

Tweet: The Doctor is in — meet Ellie, your virtual therapist. Trend spotting @theimn @geoffreybaines


Futurity: 21st July 2014

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The World’s First Affectionate Robot


Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Art


On June 5, 2014 Softbank Chairman and CEO, Masayoshi Son, introduced the first affectionate robot to the world. Built in partnership with Aldebaran Robotics SAS, “Pepper’s” human like qualities are driven by an “emotional engine” and a cloud-based AI. It is Softbank’s intention to install affectionate robots in several of its retail location in Japan. Pepper will be available to the Japanese consumer by 2015.


Human like robots are not a new idea. People have been imagining them for much of the past century. What makes this finding significant is that for the first time, affectionate robots are being introduced to the consumer market. No longer limited to the realm of science fiction novels and movies. These are not robots that take the place of human manual labour. Rather, robots that could soon replace human warmth and human contact. They are lauded as being able to replace a “babysitter, nurse, and emergency medical worker.” And they have the ability to improve their emotional intuition and response. The more they experience, the more they will learn…and evolve. Machines with emotional intelligence.

What will an AI that has been given 25-30 years of life experience look like? Sound like? Act like? Feel like? Could this be the beginning of the beginning of sentient machines? And how ubiquitous will these affectionate robots be in 2045?


“It’s either a technological breakthrough or the most terrifying robot advancement I’ve ever heard of.” -Lance Ulanoff, Chief Correspondent and Editor-at-Large of Mashable.


New subatomic particle, the “tetraquark,” constitutes an entirely new form of matter

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Arts

FINDING: Once again, there is much more going on in the universe than we thought we knew. Quarks combine in twos and threes to create protons and neutrons, which were formerly believed to be the basic building blocks of all matter. Confirming the existence of four-quark atomic particles opens the door to all sorts of new kinds of matter that might behave in all sorts of strange ways. If the “purely hypothetical” tetraquark is real, and we now know how to make one, “pentaquarks” and “hexaquarks” have moved from being “fanciful imaginations” to being acceptable topics for supercollider research.

IMPLICATIONS: So far, the only implications are philosophical. But the philosophical implications are profound. Over and over again, humanity’s scientific community has conveyed the impression that it has reached certain limits of knowledge about the world we live in: This is the smallest possible particle, and these are the only ways it behaves… This is the size of the universeThis is the age of the universeThe speed of light never changes… and each time those truths were made “doctrine,” the scientific community has had to eat humble pie.

Well, humanity’s scientific community apparently got used to eating that pie, because it now holds even its basic tenets with a gentle grip. We now know the universe still holds a great many secrets, none of them boring or simplistic! And most of them will be beautiful if we behold them in the right perspective.

Even though last week’s discovery makes all current physics textbooks obsolete, it has been welcomed by physicists as another reason for wonder and awe, another motive to keep exploring even those crannies of creation we thought we had all figured out.

Has humanity’s scientific community arrived at the same spot as its religious community, seeing all creation as wondrous, awe-inspiring, and always full of surprises? If so, what does this imply about its Creator?


The newly nabbed Z(4430) is one of a handful of suspected tetraquarks that have been found in recent years… the particle’s existence was questioned after the BaBar detector at the SLAC accelerator in Menlo Park, California, subsequently failed to find it.

Now the LHCb experiment… has analysed 10 times as much data… and says it has found as many as 4000 of the particles.

Gathering more data on how this particle decays could help shed light on whether it is a tetraquark or something else. And that could help researchers get to grips with how matter behaves at the most basic scales. Could quarks bind together in even larger groups, for example? Previous hints of five-quark groupings, called pentaquarks, have mostly disappeared in recent years, but they have not been fully ruled out, says Karliner.

“What determines who can bind together and who can’t?” he asks. “It’s completely uncharted territory.”

There has been some experimental hints of tetraquarks, but this latest result is the strongest evidence of 4 quarks forming a color-neutral particle.  This means that quarks can combine in much more complex ways than we originally expected, and this has implications for the internal structure of neutron stars.



Geoffrey Baines Edinburgh, Scotland March 21, 2014
Submitted, March 21, 2014
Geoffrey Baines
Edinburgh, Scotland

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Art

Peter Diamandis and TED’s Chris Anderson have announced an amazing XPrize to move Artificial Intelligence forward.  The challenge: “Can an A.I. give a TED talk so powerful and compelling that it commands a standing ovation?”

In the last four years, IBM’s Watson and Google’s Deep Learning have pushed forward AI’s evolution. Now, the XPrize promises to give the truest indication of just how human A.I. is really becoming.

There is also an opportunity to be involved in the project.  Peter Diamandis invites his Abundance 360 members to be part of the action: “Because the design of this XPRIZE isn’t easy or obvious, I’m turning to you, my Abundance & Bold community, for help and input. For example: How long should the A.I.’s TED talk be? How should the subject be chosen? How should the competition be judged? Should the A.I. be a physical robot that walks (or rolls) on stage or just a voice?”

I think I might just join in.

“We’re currently agnostic as to how the talk is presented. Could be a robot walking onto the stage, an avatar or Scarlett Johansson’s sexy disembodied voice. And the ‘standing O’ criterion is intended as a powerful symbol for the standard a talk should aspire to.” (Chris Anderson)

Email from Abundance 360, but you can also check in here:


Do You Have 2, 3, or 4 Parents?

TESA: Technology/Entrepreneurship/Society/Arts

Tim Skaar Boston, Mass
Tim Skaar
Boston, Mass

Scientists are seeking FDA approval for mitochondrial DNA transplantation in Human eggs. A woman, who may have eggs that show a disorder, can have mitochondrial DNA transplanted from a donor egg.

The “damaged” DNA is removed from the woman’s egg, and new health DNA is inserted from the donated egg. The result once this egg is fertilized is a fetus, and ultimately an infant with 3 genetic parents. This has been successfully accomplished in monkeys, and human eggs, and approval is being sought in both the US and UK to bring a transplanted and fertilized egg to full term.

The possible implications are endless. Is this a first step on the journey to designer babies? Might this lead to the elimination of certain disorders from the planet? Once these new combinations are introduced into the human gene pool, what unknown consequences might arise?


“Up till now, all babies have had two genetic parents. That could soon change.”

“We have developed a technique that would allow a woman to have a child that is not affected by this disease, and yet the child would be related to her genetically,” Dieter Egli of the New York Stem Cell Foundation told NPR in October.”



Geoffrey Baines Edinburgh, Scotland
Geoffrey Baines
Edinburgh, Scotland

TOPIC: Stem cells are programmed to grow cartilage inside the body TESA: Technology/Entrepreneurship/Society/Arts

Researchers at Duke University have developed a way of incorporating viruses used to deliver gene therapy to the stem cells into a synthetic material that serves as a template for tissue growth.  and quality.

The possibility of growing musculoskeletal tissues inside the human body – and more cheaply than can be envisaged outside of the body – tantalises the imagination with possibilities of lives being extended in both quantity and quality.

Other implications include strengthening healthy muscles and bones for sports and security purposes.  If the technology becomes mobile, it could be seen as a way of counteracting the affects of longterm space travel, allowing Humans to journey through the time and radiation barriers presently faced.


“The resulting material is like a computer—the scaffold provides the hardware and the virus provides the software that programs the stem cells to produce the desired tissue.” (Futurity)

“While this study focuses on cartilage regeneration, [Farshid]Guilak and [Charles] Gersbach say that the technique could be applied to many kinds of tissues, especially orthopedic tissues such as tendons, ligaments and bones.  And because the platform comes ready to use with any stem cell, it presents an important step toward commercialisation.”  (Futurity)

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Quick Thinking Flying Robot

TOPIC: Really small, flying robot that can make quick decisions.

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Arts

FINDING: “Dutch scientists have developed the world’s smallest autonomous flapping drone, a dragonfly-like beast with 3-D vision that could revolutionise our experience of everything from pop concerts to farming.”

IMPLICATIONS: This technology has been developing for years but never before has it been this small or this smart. A “bug” that can fly around, potentially unnoticed, “seeing” what we see and recording data; a bug that can go into places where “radio control would be impossible”. It sounds like something from the movie Mission Impossible.

flying robot
flying robot

Beyond some of the less complex uses of this technology, such as spotting ripe fruit in a greenhouse or dressed up as Tinkerbell at Disneyland, it could be used to “spy” on people, record conversations and video record events happening behind closed doors where conventional (and legal by today’s standard) methods would be impossible.

This could have a serious influence on the laws surrounding the collection of evidence and it’s admissibility in court, among other areas. The DelFly could be the future undercover police officer, replacing the need to put people in harm’s way. As crimes become more complex, our laws and ways of enforcing them will need to also change in order to remain effective. The DelFly could be a useful tool in this way.


“The Explorer has its own small lithium polymer battery that allows it to fly for around nine minutes, while it “sees” with its onboard processor and a specially-developed algorithm to make instant decisions.”

“Over the next few years, research continued and the machine became smaller and smaller, said Sjoerd Tijmons, 28, who helped write the algorithm for the latest DelFly Explorer’s “brain”.”

“But De Croon admits that humans are not quite able to produce swarms of autonomous robotic insects the size of bees or flies, mainly because of restrictions on battery life.”


Connected Cars in the EU by 2015

TOPIC: New connected car standards putting Europe back into the “digital fast lane”.

Technology, Entrepreneurship, Society, Arts

FINDING: EU establishes Communications Standards as a step towards making European Connected Cars a reality as soon as 2015.

IMPLICATIONS: The idea of my car communicating with the transportation infrastructure by a projection on my windscreen is amazing. Just last week there was a 100 car pileup on our main highway in Barrie just outside of Toronto, and hundreds more were simply stuck waiting for the firefighters to cut the metal median allowing them to turn around. Many of them could have been diverted long before had something like “connected cars” been in place.

Beyond the potential of increased safety, convenience factors and environmental benefits, the incredible amount of collaboration that is involved in connecting multiple countries, through varying networks, different vehicle makes and models, (among other sociopolitical differences) is an remarkable feat in and of itself.

Connected Car
Connected Car

As we discovered during the recent economic crisis, the global economy is far more connected than we realized as we live our everyday lives. We learned how the actions of some can have an enormous impact on us all. Connected Car Standards, I think, are a very positive step towards a future where our global connections will continue to grow. Might this development be a precursor of a future single global currency and perhaps even of a global minimum standard of living?


“Imagine that you are driving along, and a message is projected on your windscreen, warning you of an accident that has just happened around the next corner. This could soon be a reality thanks to new European standards. Connected cars, able to communicate with each other and with road infrastructures, are expected to appear on European roads in 2015.”

“With this set of standards ready, connected cars are on the right track. Direct communication between vehicles and infrastructures will ensure safer and more efficient traffic flows, with great benefits for drivers & pedestrians, our environment and our economy. This shows Europe’s unique digital advantage. But for connected cars to really work, we also need more consistency in rules that underpin fast broadband networks. Our fragmented spectrum policy puts the brakes on our economy – now it’s time to get our connected continent up to cruising speed”

“Work on the Release 2 standardisation package has already begun to fine tune existing standards and deal with more complex use cases. European organisations cooperate closely with American and Japanese organisations to ensure that the systems are compatible across the globe.”