Presented by VICE Media
CBS Interactive and VICE Media have good news for us: The future we’ve all been waiting for – the one we’ve been increasingly impatient for – has already arrived.
The increasingly powerful promises of artificial intelligence, bots, and virtual and augmented reality have been whipping technophiles and pundits alike into something akin to a frenzy, if all those thinkpieces that link current innovations to the magic or sci-fi blockbusters are any indication. And now these companies have paired up to capture that zeitgeist, creating and producing “Dear Future,” a long-form journalism series that promises to bring readers dispatches from the cutting edge.
In an effort to marry Motherboard’s voice with CNET’s tech focus, “Dear Future” will tackle the big, science-fiction-becomes-fact stuff. The pledge is a series of stories that demonstrate how today’s technology is already impacting our present.
The series kicked off on September 11th; later this fall we’ll see a docu-series that will visually explore the future that technology promises.
Mind control and the modern human
The first installment of the series, “How We’ll Eventually Control Everything With Our Minds,” kicks off with the story of the brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) that already have SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk on board and launching a whole new startup. Neuralink is their effort to create what they call “neural lace,” or a commercially applicable brain-computer interface. Neuralink has already raised $27 million.
In the meantime at Stanford, the clinical application of the technology is showing that Musk’s optimism is on track. Neuroscientists have implanted an electrode array into the brain of Dennis Degray, a partially paralyzed man. Monitoring brain activity, translating those complex electrical signals, and then transferring them to a virtual keyboard, the BCI allowed Degray to accurately type a record-breaking 39 characters (or about eight words) a minute using only his mind.
The real promise of BCIs? An environment that can be manipulated with your mind, via the Internet of Things.
Learn more about the technical challenges, the upcoming breakthroughs, and when you’ll be able to toast bread with your brain here.
Are you there, aliens? It’s us, humans.
Forget the enormous radio telescopes sweeping the galaxy for any signs of intelligent life somewhere out there in the dark of space. The Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligences community is working to hit the fast-forward button when it comes to first contact.
They’re the controversial branch of the SETI astronomer crew – the ones who don’t want to just sit back and simply scan a silent sky. They’re the proactive folks who think we need to be actually reaching out to say hiya.
But not only are there plenty of technical issues to work around, they’re faced with colleagues (including luminaries like Stephen Hawking) who think it’s actually a pretty dangerous idea. A Steven Spielberg-style little E.T. poses no threat; it’s the hostile aliens who are just waiting for us to raise the target over our heads.
Even if some thing it may be riskier to do something than do nothing – should we really be sitting back on our laurels? Find out more about METI International’s plan to start sending messages out into space in 2018 – and the fascinating design challenges they’re tackling – here.
Perchance to dream
Nobody wants to think about death. Unfortunately, the elimination of death is not one of those future-fantastic fantasies that seems to be coming true any time soon. But fear of death, that universal human theme, is being tackled by the promise of that super-hyped AI technology, chatbots.
Researchers at Boston Medical Center and Northeastern University are creating bots that offer end-of-life consultations and talk the anxious through their personal and spiritual fears surrounding that big goodnight.
The chatbot is explicitly designed as a palliative care coach that helps you prepare a will, plan a funeral, and even take active interest in your spiritual life. Dialogue is tailored to your religion – currently supporting Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Budaism, and Sikhism – and designed to support you through your fears and help you navigate the emotional complexity surrounding death and dying.
Learn more about the potential pitfalls of computer counseling, the powerful impact the technology is poised to make, and more, here.
The series will continue to trailblaze into the future, says Thobey Campion, Head of Publishing at VICE. “We’ll be producing the most groundbreaking, tech-focused stories around to a global audience,” Campion says, “ultimately waking people up to innovations that will impact all of humanity.”
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