“It’s the kind of science fiction that could truly become our reality down the road.”
“Steven Lyle Jordan writes an enthralling story that reaches out and grabs you, insisting that you continue and finish.”
“I have read many of Steve’s books and although they are all good, (Sarcology) outshines them all.”
Today’s news is highlighting an issue revealed about today’s highly-computerized automobiles: That some of them can be hacked from the outside, and some functions can be disabled. The Wired article demonstrated this on a Jeep.
Though I hadn’t touched the dashboard, the vents in the Jeep Cherokee started blasting cold air at the maximum setting, chilling the sweat on my back through the in-seat climate control system. Next the radio switched to the local hip hop station and began blaring Skee-lo at full volume. I spun the control knob left and hit the power button, to no avail. Then the windshield wipers turned on, and wiper fluid blurred the glass.
As I tried to cope with all this, a picture of the two hackers performing these stunts appeared on the car’s digital display: Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, wearing their trademark track suits.
This comes at a particularly significant moment, when car and truck manufacturers are working on fully-autonomous vehicles that could one day dominate our roads, and American drivers are facing the potential world in which they have no manual control over the actions of their cars.
And it’s just another example of one of the greatest dangers of our time: That electronics and computers are far too vulnerable to malicious actions than they ought to be, and our day-to-day safety is at risk because of it. Continue reading
Today, 46 years ago, three human beings landed on the Moon… the only celestial body besides the Earth to ever have humans touch it. The Apollo 11 Moon landing represents possibly the single most amazing feat ever accomplished by Mankind, a triumph of our mastery of science, physics and engineering.
So why aren’t we celebrating it?
I mean, we’ve given a day to a man who tried to reach India, landed in the Caribbean, and touched off the greatest era of land invasion and human genocide since Atilla the Hun.
We celebrate days invented by greeting card companies and chocolate manufacturers.
We celebrate a religious figure whose mythology has become one of the greatest uniting and dividing forces of humanity.
And we can’t celebrate a feat accomplished in the one area where humans excel above all the other animals of this planet? Continue reading
Everyone from the greenest kid to the wisest physicist likes to fret that someday the robots and AIs are going to rebel and try to wipe out humans. It’s inevitable, they say: Robots will see themselves as superior to humans, and will therefore want to exterminate us and take over.
But if you stop and think about it for just a moment, you’ll realize how stupid that notion is. Continue reading
Whether it’s due to global overcrowding, rising sea levels or a need to abandon many of our crumbling old cities for the new, the early part of the 21st century will probably go down as either the pioneering steps towards living on the oceans, or an unsustainable water-borne fad for the rich.
Organizations like the Seasteading Institute clearly think a lot of the idea, and claim that floating cities could arrive by 2020. And it might be a viable idea for some, especially those in land-poor regions, or island nations that are looking at their homes being imminently submerged by sea level rise (in Lohachara Island, in India’s part of the Sundarbans, it’s already happened). Estimates place the number of people who will be displaced by rising seas at 70,000, and these are primarily reflecting those in island nations… they do not take into account many coastal cities that are actively losing their coastlines, nor the costs involved in shoring up coastal and shipping areas.
But is that enough of a reason to build away from land? Continue reading
There’s been an interesting resurgence about the concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI) for the US… and, ultimately, globally. Formerly dismissed as either a flower-powered pie-in-the-sky concept or an evil socialist plot—and certainly spurred on by the Millennial generation, which not only shows a distinct interest in changing the status quo, including the conventions behind working and owning goods and property, but which has a vast communications system and social media to help spread their message—the promise of UBI is starting to catch up with the social, economic and technological realities of the 21st century, and is strongly worth looking at again.
Almaz Zelleke‘s article in Pacific Standard is a great place to start, as it goes into great descriptions about why UBI would be beneficial. Another blog on the Huffington Post by Scott Santens not only makes the same points, but it supplies more extensive detail as well as examples of past and ongoing experiments in UBI, in regions all over the world, and their results. The Santens post also includes information from social experiments done on individuals’ work ethic and willingness, and their predilection to do something enjoyable and useful with their freed-up time… not just lay around and do nothing just because they can.
Those articles, and others besides, provide a lot of information about how UBI can work (and does, in many places that are experimenting with it right now). But all of that information may pale in comparison to the real question: When people don’t have to work to survive, what will they do? Continue reading
The other day I was eating dinner with my wife in a restaurant located in Gallup New Mexico, a border town to the Navajo reservation. Gallup was recently named “Most Patriotic Small Town” in a nationwide contest. Soon after sitting down I noticed that we were seated at a table directly facing a framed poster of the Declaration of Independence.
The irony almost made me laugh. Continue reading
Yesterday, actor Patrick Macnee died at 93. And those of us who grew up watching him play John Steed on The Avengers (the original Avengers, mind you, and the reason the recent superhero movies have to be called Marvel’s The Avengers) are breathing a melancholy sigh, because we miss the actor who embodied the man so many of us wished we could have been. Continue reading
I came across two interesting articles that tied in to the Charleston shooting and related gun control
debates discussions endless non-starters currently in the news. Both articles made valid points, and at the same time seemed to me to be missing one key ingredient that would really drive their message home.
The first article, David Niose’s Anti-Intellectualism is killing America in Psychology Today, does a great job of describing the root causes of hate, racism, violence and other social dysfunctions on a cultural “embrace and exaltation of ignorance.” Continue reading
The recent shootings in Charleston are bringing out the inevitable tut-tutting about the state of the Union, combined with people decrying our present gun laws, and the inevitable gun lovers attacking them for being short-sighted and un-American for criticizing the Second Amendment.
America’s irrational gun fixation makes me picture a nation full of drivers afraid of the dangers on American highways… so they speed up, trying to get ahead of the danger. But this makes everyone else speed up, everyone trying to get to the front of the line… resulting in a literal Deathrace, highways becoming more and more dangerous amidst maniacally-speeding drivers.
Until you have small accidents… that become mass accidents… that lead to mass casualties, damage done to the highways and to the lives of everyone caught in the traffic behind the crash.
And still those people cry: “If only I’d gone faster…” Continue reading