Communion Of Dreams

Good lord.
February 26, 2012, 2:37 pm
Filed under: Civil Rights, Constitution, Government, Privacy, tech, Wall Street Journal

From the Wall Street Journal:

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling overturning the warrantless use of GPS tracking devices has caused a “sea change” inside the U.S. Justice Department, according to FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann.

Mr. Weissmann, speaking at a University of San Francisco conference called “Big Brother in the 21st Century” on Friday, said that the court ruling prompted the FBI to turn off about 3,000 GPS tracking devices that were in use.

Good lord. 3,000.

And that’s how many they were *admitting* to. Do you honestly believe that was all of them? Or that there were 3,000 instances where such routine infringement of the rights of Americans was warranted (well, so to speak)?

And, of course, this is just one small aspect of our increasing surveillance society.

Good lord.

Jim Downey

It’s even got a flying car on the cover!

A good friend sent me a review in the WSJ about Physics of the Future. Here’s a good excerpt from the review:

That is the core message of Michio Kaku’s “Physics of the Future.” Despite its title, the book is not so much about physics as it is about gadgets and technology, described by Mr. Kaku—professor, blogger and television host—on a wide-ranging tour of what to expect from technological progress over the next century or so.

Much of the terrain Mr. Kaku surveys will be familiar to futurists, but less technically oriented readers are likely to find it fascinating—and related with commendable clarity. The changes that Mr. Kaku expects range from the readily foreseeable to the considerably more esoteric.

Augmented reality—in which useful data overlay what we see with our eyes—already exists in rudimentary form on smartphones, but Mr. Kaku predicts a time, only a decade or two away, when a much denser information stream will be fed directly to our retinas by contact lenses or optical implants. Want to fix a car, perform emergency surgery, or prepare a gourmet meal? The app will tell you what to do—and guide your work. Have trouble learning a foreign language? Expect a useful universal translator to do the work for you. And the ability to connect computers directly to human nervous systems will drastically improve the lives of those who are paralyzed, blind or deaf—as it is already beginning to do. Eventually, we may know the sort of virtual worlds illustrated in science-fiction novels like Greg Egan’s “Permutation City.”

Hmm . . . sound familiar? This is exactly the sort of tech I stipulate as being pretty mature (completely developed and integrated into everyday use) in Communion of Dreams.

Fun. I may have to get a copy of that book.

Jim Downey

(Thanks to ML for the link!)