The Future of TV Shows -- The Colbearinator

Television will change dramatically in the future. It will be more like Computervision rather than television. One of the biggest advances will be software robots instead of real live performers as talent. Coupled with superfast 3-D rendering, TV shows can be produced, and modified on the fly without any humans in front of the camera.

Take the Colbert Report and Stephen Colbert. Suppose one day, Stephen has hang-nail, and he is convinced that it ruins his whole on-stage aura. He refuses to come out and enlighten America about big bears. Cable studio moguls are delighted. They do not have to pay his salary for this show. They boot up a software robot called the Col-Bearinator (or if you are Faux News, it is spelled the Colbearinator, because the on-air talking heads would pronounce it ColDashBearInAtor).

Then the producer would google a pile Colbertisms from the web, feed them into the Colbearinator, add some vicious sea-gulls and eagles and voila- the software robot would produce a show and Stephen could nurse his hang-nail and be jealous of the performance of the Colbearinator.

He would get so jealous, that he would sue the Colbearinator, however the Colbearinator would win because seagulls have never appeared on the Colbert Report. The Hitler Cats, or Kitlers would testify to that. Then because the Colbearinator is programmed software, the monies won by the Colbearinator in court would be handed back to the evil cable moguls.

Congress would then take note and pass Equal Opportunity laws for Colbearinators. There would also be a minimum wage law for Colbearinators, except in Arizona, where Colbearinators are not welcome. They would be shipped back to India, where most of the world's software is written. The Colbearinators will come of age, when Obama nominates one to the Supreme Court. The Tea Party will refer to the Colbearinators as Colbeariniggers.

Not only will software robot actors have the ability to work without humans, but web cams will monitor the viewers and change the program content on the fly. For example, if the screen detects that the viewers eyeballs rest on the evil seagulls for an inordinate period of time, the Colbearinator will change the ending to mimic Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" where a huge flock mobs the bear and tears it apart.

While this may be satisfying for the viewer, he can't really go to work the next day, and around the ozonated water cooler say "Did you see the Colbert Report last night?". Someone else will say "Yes, I loved it how the bear breast-fed the Kitlers", and you realize that the Colbearinator created a whole different show for someone else. Oh Brave New World!

Analyze THIS!

Big Brother will be watching you in the future. And you will like it. I foresee the invention of the analysis and inference engine that analyses everything you do and offers suggestions on how to live your life. Of course, the engine will be connected to the internet so that it can access data for comparison and inference.

What might this analysis engine tell you? It might tell you that your intake of sodium has been a little high lately. It may tell you that you haven't communicated with your mother lately. It my tell you that your caloric intake is too high, and based on the amount of time at your computer, it may infer that you aren't getting enough exercise.

It may watch over you while you do the spreadsheet for the boss, and suggest that your revenue projections are a little high. It may tell you that there is an interesting points spread with the Vegas bookies on you favourite sports team. It may tell you that your kid has been researching alternative methods to "hot knives". It may tell you that based on your current investment portfolio, you might not be able to retire until you are 180 years old.

You get the picture. This thing never sleeps. Like your wife, it remembers everything that you have ever communicated, and unlike your wife, it remembers the good stuff too. This appliance will truly be your personal digital assistant, and you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

If you think that this is far-fetched and wonder what people will do when machines take over the tasks that we do regularly now, consider this. The rate of change in the world and in our lives is accelerating. Human beings are not adapted to the speed of change. Appliances like this will help us adapt, and allow us to keep on top of things. It will allow us to manage change.

And all of this change reminds me of the Zen hotdog vendor. Whenever someone buys a hotdog with twenty dollar bill he pockets the whole amount. When people ask for change, he replies that change must come from within.

The Future of the Railroad

I am in awe of the men in our history who built the railways. This was back in the day when there was no internal combustion engine. There were no cars or trucks. There was no traffic. There was little technology.

These transportation pioneers had the vision of a network of trains to carry goods and people across the vast stretches of North America. In doing so, they built strong countries, and strong economies that are the economic powerhouses in our world today.

When you look at it logically, a railroad is an improbable thing. You need narrow corridors of land between cities. Then you need to cut down a forest to make the railway ties. You need enough iron to crisscross the continent twice with steel ribbons. And you need several million spikes. It was a daunting task, and yet they did it.

These days, the railways are not as important as they once were. Trucking has taken over the movement of goods, because it is much more immediate and a truck can go from door to door. However, I believe that we will see a new incarnation of the railway.

Instead of ribbons of steel crisscrossing the continent, we will have electro-magnetic tunnels in their place. The stuff to be shipped, will not be loaded into railway cars, but into computerized compartments that will fly through these tunnels at incredible speeds. There will be no humans managing this. Computers will be responsible for collision avoidance and routing. There will be no wheels on these compartments and they will not require volatile fuels like gasoline. It will be the greenest way to ship goods across this country and it will be faster than using the highway network, or the congested skies of the airlines.

Companies will actually own their own self-transporting containers, while casual users just rent one for each trip. Because the tunnels are enclosed, you will not see the accidents and derailments that happens with the conventional railway.

This new form of railway will cause havoc in other places though. People throughout the world will wonder why a train is called a choo-choo train because the trains won't make any noise, except the sound of a box whizzing past your head. And "Thomas The Train" will have to be re-written. Nobody will know what a locomotive is. However there is one thing that will remain. If a person gets electrocuted by the new means of shipping, that person will definitely be a conductor.

The New Reality TV

Reality TV first reared it's head with Candid Camera in the 1960's. Pranks were played on viewers and the results were broadcast by Allan Funt. The next incarnations of reality TV were game shows like the Gong Show. With advances in video cameras, show like COPS, then Survivor and Big Brother came along. The greatest of all reality TV is American Idol with audiences in the tens of millions around the world.

Television networks like reality shows because they are much cheaper to produce than scripted television shows, and they garner huge audiences because it satisfies the voyeur in us. We all like to peek into other peoples windows and lives and see how they live.

Reality shows, like gambling and prostitution is not going away anytime soon. With the advent of youtube, folks can upload there own slices of reality for all of the world to see. The proverbial fifteen minutes of fame is now fifteen seconds.

So where will reality TV end up in the future? I predict that there will be a website or several dedicated to webcams of ordinary people where one can surf and watch their lives. And these people will be paid for the time spent by the browsing public. Everyone will have a chance to be a reality TV star for a few minutes per day.

Search engines will get smart enough to search real time for web cam images. Peeping Toms will search for women undressing before bed. Advertising agencies will watch to see what a youngster eats for breakfast. It will be market research.

In a previous entry, I said that people will not have long term jobs, but will be able to generate income by their connectivity. This is one aspect of it. If a family can earn money by changing Junior's diaper in front of a web cam so that marketeers can see what brand of disposable diaper they are using, they will do it. Instead of kids singing songs for grandma, they will sing songs for some lonely grandma surfing the web, and she will pay them for it.

I can just see it now. Women will be getting breast augmentation and collagen injection in the lips and tell their husbands that they need it for their jobs. Their jobs will consist of being a tease in front of a web cam. Oh Brave New World.

Why Social Networks Work, and Why They Will Be Around For A Long Time

Facebook just reached its 500 millionth member. At 200 million, it was the fifth largest country in the world. The digital social network came of age. In retrospect we could have seen it coming. After all, people are highly social animals and in the old days, the social network was the bench in front of the post office, the barber shop, the lodge, the bridge club, the bowling alley or the sewing circle. However digital social networks are a lot different.

In the old days, it took a lot of energy to participate in any social network. You had to join a group. Then you underwent a period where you were slowly accepted into the inner circles. Now, you sign up on Facebook and within a couple of weeks, you have close to a hundred friends that you haven't spoken to in years.

Facebook is redefining friendship. I once read a book from the self-styled "World's Greatest Salesman" named Joe Girard. The book was written quite a few years ago. In that book, he talks about how many people one person actually interacted with in a lifetime. The answer was 250. He derived that number from a funeral director in Detroit. It was the number of Mass cards or memorial cards that were printed when a person died.

Today, the average kid has over 400 "friends" on Facebook. Of course, they aren't actually "friends" the way their parents would call people friends, but these digital social networks are transformative. They are redefining what a friend means.

So why does a person named Abner Snodgrass who has BO and no SA suddenly find himself on Facebook with 400 friends? Why is Facebook so popular? Why wasn't it invented before? Why will Facebook be around for a long time?

The answer to these questions lie in social biology. The theory behind it is called the "Selfish Herd". People and animals herd together because an individual can easily take advantage of another's efforts without returning any effort of its own. The individuals band together and selfish compete for position within the group.

Facebook can let you stay in touch with minimal effort. You post your status and inner thoughts and it saves you writing letters or emails to individuals. And people can respond with one keystroke by hitting the "Like" button. It is the lazy way to being a social animal. You expend minimal effort to reach the widest number of people with just a few keystrokes. This is also known as the Twitter effect, which is Facebook to the extreme, and bare minimum. But the ease is just half the equation.

The other half is selfish competition within the group. People compete to see who can have the most friends. They compete to have the most interest pages. They compete to see who gets the most "Likes" to the comments that they post. Why? -- because it feeds their ego.

Sociologists have long puzzled over why kids and adults get so engrossed in social networks, computer games, dating sites and the virtual world. Old timers cannot fathom the virtual world because they do not participate fully in it. The reason why the virtual world is so popular, especially with the young, is that it is incredibly less boring and more immediate than the real world.

In the virtual world, when you play a game and kill something, your brain is rewarded with a cocktail of dopamines, adrenaline and serotonin. In the real world, it is quite boring and your mother tells you to do your homework. Most people do not have intensely rewarding lives that stimulate the production of endorphins or feel-good brain chemicals. But five minutes online can do that for you. You will soon have a stew of risk-reward brain chemicals in that noggin of yours.

In the real world, you are a virtual nobody. You can go for days without significantly interacting with a person. But sign onto Facebook and you have a few hundred people that you can address with a few keystrokes. You are a somebody online.

So don't expect the online world to diminish anytime soon. The virtual world will become a bigger and bigger portion of our lives. And if you are an architect of this brave new virtual world, you cannot forget the basic principle of the selfish herd. Otherwise you will not be herd.

Trinary Computing

Imagine an odometer. Each wheel of the odometer has numbers on it. In a car, the numbers go from zero to nine. When nine is reached, it carries over, and kicks up the next wheel to the left by a notch. That is the way that mileage odometers in cars worked (until they became digital).

Now imagine an odometer that is just imprinted with a zero and a one. After it reaches one, it kicks over to the next wheel. That is essentially how the binary language on a computer works. So for example a computer would count from 0 to three in the following way:

0 = 0000
1 = 0001
2 = 0010
3 = 0011

The way that it works physically in your computer is with voltage in the millions of transistors in a computer chip. When +5 volts is flowing, it is considered a "one". When there is no voltage flowing, it is considered a zero because there is zero volts flowing. In my early days when I designed digital circuits, the first thing that you did, was supply +5 volts called vcc or Voltage to the Common Cathode (of all of the transistors in the chips).

Well, the time has come for trinary computing. Instead of 1's and 0's, trinary would have -1, 0 and 1. The -1 could be physically -5 volts. A Russian named Brusentsov invented a trinary computer at Moscow State University in 1958, but it never caught on because he was a Commie, it cost too much to produce, and that was back in the day when millions of transistors took enough power to to light up a city.

In the trinary system, the odometer has three markings instead of two. It has -1, 0, and 1. It greatly increases the computing power. In the binary system, two bits can count from 0 to three. In the trinary, the same two bits will count you from 0 to eight. When you go to four bits (called a nibble), which is half a byte, you have 16 numbers or 0 -15. With the trinary system, those four bits can count you from 0 to 80, or 81 discrete numbers.

It gets even better with a byte which is eight bits. The maximum count of a byte in the binary is 256. With the trinary system, it is 6561. Can you imagine how much memory that will save. With a conventional device, you will have almost 26 times the memory with the same device by going to the trinary system.

Instead of bits, nibbles and bytes, we will have trits, tribbles and trytes. Computing will go much much faster and we will have ultra-miniature computers with the trinary system.

There is an open source trinary or ternary as they call it, system being developed with contributions from the public. You can find them at:

Three is definitely better than two in the computing world. However it would be a tough sell in the relationship world.

Post Third-World Production And Assembly

What happens when third world countries advance and no longer allow child labour? What happens when Nike cannot have it shoes made in far-off tropical lands for $8.00 per week per assembler? I have always said that we are in for a huge explosion in robotics in our future.

There will come a time when the value of robots will outstrip the value of third world, poorly educated assemblers. At that point the Industrial Revolution will have truly come when robots take over the manufacture and assembly of most things including robots making other machines.

Manufacturing will drastically change. Machines will make things, and make them with less waste. Instead of big machines stamping things out of metal, small machines will deposit metal in the shape of the required object. Instead of big mills refining steel into slabs to waste further energy to press, melt, drill, weld, and bolt together steel bits, computers will use just enough steel to form the part to order without all of those brute interim forces.

We will see a revolution in manufacturing finesse, based on chemistry, robotics, molecular science and energy advances. And we will see a whole slew of other problems introduced by robotics -- like illegal robots smuggled in from Mexico. Some things will never change.

Image taken from:

The Advent of the Micro Job

Our parents had just a handful of jobs in their entire careers, and stuck with one for over 25 years to retire from it. That paradigm is quickly disappearing. Most people now have had at least 5 jobs before age thirty, and that number will continue to accelerate.

Where will it end? I can see the advent of the micro-job. In a typical morning, a person will use his ubiquitous connectivity to read the newspaper. He will earn a couple of dollars for participating in a survey aimed specifically at his demographic. His email will have a query on his educational specialty. He will answer that, and earn a few more dollars.

Our intrepid worker then connects to his job page. Corporation ABC has a three week job for him which he accepts. Corporation XYZ has a 4 hour job which he also accepts. Each time he clicks and finishes a job, no matter how big or small, he is accruing benefits payments and retirement savings in a digital fashion. In some cases, a quick 5 minute job may add 1/64th of a cent to his retirement savings, but the idea is that you do it continuous for many years. Just like in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a meal at the end of the universe to watch the universe end is horrendously expensive. But the way that you pay for it, is to deposit a penny in a bank in your account, and it few million years that it takes for the universe to end, compound interest will have accumulated such that you can pay for it.

So be on the lookout for a micro-job. It definitely is the wave of the future for office jobs. Micro-jobs of course doesn't work for careers like lumberjacks. They pretty much want you on location full time, or you will get the axe.

Image is taken from:

Don't Show Me The Money

I can see it now. How will you know the poor in this great new future of ours? Easy, they will be the only ones carrying actual money. The rest of us will have e-Money or electronic money.

This will change the face of commerce as we know it. With e-Money, you can be paid instantly. You can and will be paid by the minute. And you will have access to your money the minute that you earn it. (Being paid by the minute is nothing new. My friend is an airline hostess, and she is paid by the minute for every minute that the plane is in the air. She is paid nothing for ground time.)

Governments will not tax the money that you make, but rather the flow of money -- in real time. When you buy something from a server in New York, the sales tax will flow directly to the state coffers. When someone pays you, the income tax will be not how much money in total over a year, but rather the government will take its cut as it happens. It will be a flat tax.

And e-Money will not be controlled by "the system". You will have some measure of control. You will have the capability of allocating a certain amount to the equivalent of a debit card (charge cards and debit cards will go the way of the dodo bird). This way you can budget your purchases and mad money.

Banking will also become personal as well. Anyone will be able to do it. If you have some spare money, you can transfer it to a loan pool, and make money on it -- even if it is only a dollar. That is another aspect of e-Money. You will be able to make money in micro amounts. Now, if you make a thousandth of a cent, it is no big whoop and you can't collect it. But suppose you made a thousandth of a cent per internet hit and you had a million hits per hour, over a period of time, that money would add up.

This change to the way that money is handled will greatly affect pop culture. Your 'two cents' will change. 'Buddy can you spare a dime' will change. 'A penny for your thoughts' will change. And you will no longer say that 'change is inevitable except from a vending machine'. Change will not be delivered mechanically so you will always get your change from a vending machine. And if you allocate enough money, you could conceivably buy the vending machine from itself.

Emotional Stew

Mankind has made an accidental discovery with coffee, tobacco and chocolate. Drink, smoke or eat these substances and endorphins and brain chemicals are released to make us feel more alert, calmer, or happier.

In this brave new world, we already have 5 hour energy drinks that boost our energy. We have electrolyte replacement like Gatorade. We will have Gatorade for the Brain.

Want to feel nostalgic? Have a cup of Celestial Seasonings YesterYear. Coffee designers will create an espresso type of drink called Passionata to make you more passionate. (It will be abused. Old geezers will use it to wash down their Viagra). You will be able to take a few sips of Confidence Builder and give that speech to your boss and co-workers with no problems.

Every single passion, feeling and emotion that you can think of, will be boosted by these drinks. However many that are developed, they will never supersede or outsell the original -- alcohol. Homer Simpson correctly calls alcohol the cause of and the answer to all of Life's problems.

Death of the Wristwatch

In our bright new future, certain things will die out. The wristwatch will be one of them. I became acutely aware of this fact when I was addressing a group of Caribbean government officials, male and female, and discovered that most of them used their cell phone for their bedside alarm clocks, but also for the wrist watch as well. In the meeting I was afraid that I was running overtime on a tight schedule. When I asked for the time, almost everyone looked at their cell phone to get the time.

In the future, we will have gizmos and gadgets strapped to our wrists. But it doesn't make sense for everyone to have discrete watch circuitry and everyone have their own version of the correct time. In our connected future, everyone will get their time source from the same synchronized servers and we will all be on the same page. It is happening now.

If the wristwatch survives, it will be merely a connection to the internet, and the time will be generated from the internet. It will also provide GPS coordinates of the wearer and have some messaging built it. But I don't think that it is a likely scenario.

Take a look at the picture above. It comes from It is a cellphone wristwatch. The time is provided by the cell phone function. We will see more and more of this integration of devices into other devices.

No, I am afraid the wristwatch will die. And we will never answer the question of why, when we want to get the time from a strangers, we point to our wrist, but when we ask for directions to the bathroom, we never point to the appropriate body part.

Stove of the Future

One of the most inefficient, backwards energy wasters in our lives today is the stove. The basic concept of the stove hasn't changed since the days of the woodstove. Back in the day, you had a woodfire in a firebox with a chimney. The fire was for warmth. The top of the firebox got real hot, and you put the pots on the hot metal to cook. We haven't moved too far off that concept today.

The stoves of the future will be much different. For one, they will be much more energy efficient. You won't have the whole deal of creating heat, transferring it to a pot, and then heating a cooking medium and then heating the food.

Stoves have to become more efficient. Like a microwave, they will heat the food directly. Firstly, cooking pots will advance to heating elements attached. And stoves will become smaller and smaller. Probes will be developed that use various energy (microwave, ultrasound, piezoelectric) to stick into the food to cook it, or to provide energy directly into the interior of the pot.

You will also see more computerization of the process of cooking food. Micro-controllers will monitor the heat delivery and cooking cycles. "Log On" will take on a whole different meaning other than making the stove hotter by throwing a piece of wood on the fire.

Disposable Robotics

As you wait in line at WalMart or some other store, in our Brave New World in the not-too-distant future, you will see the displays of bubble gum, batteries and disposable mini-robots. That scenario is definitely in our future.

The field of robotics will become huge. Robots will get smaller and smaller and cheaper and cheaper. They will be machine-made by other robots and eventually we will get to the stage of disposable robots.

The imaginary disposable robot pictured above is a pot-scrubber. After you have cooked on food to your pot, making the inside a mess, you put in a bit of water and soap, and toss in the disposable pot-scrubbing robot. Five minutes later, your pot is shining again.

We will have disposable robots for a multitude of things. Swiffer will come out with a little robot that you let loose on your floors. It will traverse the floors picking up dirt and when it is full, it will find its way to the garbage can.

Mini throw-away robots will do everything from shine shoes, to open cans, to grate cheese, to buff cars ... the uses are endless.

Already we have shown that we as human beings like robots for entertainment. I for one, find it amazing that instead of creating mini-robots to scrub cholesterol plaque off arteries, we build ones with flames and chainsaws to battle other mechanical gladiators in Robot Wars? It proves that humans can be as cold as a machine as well.

Persistent Internet Connection from the Human Body

Here it comes. It is bound to happen. Your body will be connected to the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You will be connected to the cloud. There will be billions of computers connected to the cloud. They will share monitoring your body.

Your heart rate, breathing and all vital signs will be monitored and data mined. (I just received an interesting business plan for a data mining internet appliance). Your GPS co-ordinates will be followed. If you pass a store, a virtual coupon for your shopping list will be put on your mobile device. Every single thing that you do, will be monitored by your doctor, your shopkeeper, your bookie, and .... dare I say this ... YOUR GOVERNMENT.

But it won't be all bad. Data will be smart and will not let itself go to just anybody, but to authenticated users. For example, all data will be encapsulated with a virtual envelope that only the recipient will be able to read.

Older folk will resist the total persistent internet connection, but they will miss out on so many things that it will be worthwhile to have it put in.

The other people who will resist this concept will be the religious neo-cons who will see this as the sign of the Beast 666. But if you are connected, you can instantly play that number in the Pick 3 Daily Lotto and win big.

Bioreactors -- The Phuture of Pharming Phase II

What you see pictured above is a bioreactor (it is sometimes spelled bio-reactor). You have heard of nuclear reactors. This one represents the future of farming, and feeding us human beings.

A bioreactor is a series of chambers filled with nutrient fluids that grows plant cells. It provides an incubator to host, nuture, grow and mature plant cells without the bother of the rest of the plant and the support systems.

Let me give you an example of how a bioreactor would work. I live in the tropics. They were originally called the spice islands because spices grow in the tropics. Spices are found in specific parts of the plant. The plant is grown, harvested, dried and processed to get the spices. That is the old way.

The new way is to isolate the cells in the plant that produces the flavours and essential oils. You do this by sending the appropriate parts of the living plant through a blender. The cells are all broken up. You introduce this slurry of cells into a bioreactor. The fluid or matrix in the bioreactor contains nutrients, enzymes and catalysts, causing the cells to multiply and grow. You no longer need the whole plant. You don't need roots, flowers, stems, leaves and the life support systems. The bioreactor provides that.

The cells multiply, mature and grow, and produce the essential oils and flavours. Once they are ready, the cells are centrifuged away from the nutrient fluid, and dried and processed as regular spices. Because you do not need bothersome roots, soil, leaves, stems, etc, you can devote more resources to just growing what you want out of the spice plant. You can grow a whole field of spices in a small room because you have just dispensed with the plant.

Bioreactors will grow the cells that produce the carbohydrates in wheat, the starch in potatoes, the sugar in sugar beets and emulate virtually anything grown using traditional methods now.

I am willing to bet that the pioneers of the bioreactors will be the guys growing pot.

The image for this blog entry comes from:

Remote Control For Your Body

We are truly in the age of the implantable. There have been pacemakers for a long time. We have implantable drug dosers where a device lets out drugs over a specified time period. When I gaze into the crystal ball to see where this trend will go, I see implantable electro-biological controls in the near future.

For example, why would a patient have to have surgery when his/her pacemaker needs service. Surely the technology exists to recharge the battery without wires. My toothbrush does this. Also remote control can be used to change the settings on the device.

I also see this technology being used to stimulate insulin production, speed up the metabolism, stimulate the brain to reduce sleepiness when driving. There are all sorts of remote controls that can be implemented and implanted in the body.

The only danger that I see, is letting someone else get control of the remote. Hmmmmm.

Circulatory Systems For Houses

The biological world has given models of systems that can be applied to other things. I was pondering air conditioning the other day during a tropical heatwave. The thought struck me that perhaps if a house had a circulatory system like an animal then the fluid could be chilled making the interior of the house cooler than the outside. This would circumvent the traditional model of air conditioning where the air is chilled by the AC. In this model, the air is chilled by cooler walls.

The way that it would work would be to circulate a liquid through the walls and floors that has excellent thermal transfer characteristics (like a non-toxic antifreeze or coolant). You could connect it to a heat pump and that way the circulatory system of the house would be heating the house in winter and cooling it in summer.

We already have radiant heating in houses where heating pipes are installed in floors, and heated liquid (sometimes hot water) is run through the system in winter.

I proposed modifying the system by not only running it through the floors, but in the walls as well. Then the system is connected to solar and geothermal and run by a computer. In the winter, the solar panels and geothermal collect heat and use it for heating.

Since the deep ground is always cooler in the summer, the geothermal can used to cool the house in the summer, saving on traditional air conditioning costs.

It's just a matter of time before we get smart houses that get away from the mere shelter model that they evolved from and become their own ecosystem habitats for us. And it all begins with a circulatory system.

Images for this blog entry come from:

Microwave Oven That Analyzes the Food

Coming soon to a kitchen near you -- a microwave oven that collects the gases emitted by the heating food and analyses the food for nutritional content.

This one will be a big seller once someone invents it.

Back to the Future Farming

It wasn't so long ago, that almost everybody was responsible in some way for food production. Canada and the United States were founded upon the principle of the family farm. Settlers moved here and grew their own food, and harvested their own crops.

When the age of industrialization came upon the scene, it wasn't economical to grow your own food. You could make more money working in the factory, and pay someone to grow it for you. Farms evolved from small family farms to larger commercial farms, and finally to huge agri-businesses who produce food on a mass scale using pesticides, chemicals, genetic manipulation, irrigation, and other resource-hungry methods that in the long run, are unsustainable.

As a further consequence, the environment is being degraded by these practices as well as our health. We saw what DDT did to the bird population in the 1960's. They were the canaries in the mine, so to speak. And what we are doing to ourselves is far worse than how we wreaked pollution havoc on the birds.

Of course, the big agri-businesses will tell you that they are humanitarians of the finest kind, and they have all of the answers to feeding a burgeoning human population that cannot sustain itself without them. Of course, this is bull.

So what I see, is back to farming in the future. Why buy chemically poisoned food, or highly expensive organic food of dubious origin, when technology will allow to grow your own.
Our houses, habitats and living spaces have evolved to accommodate cable TV, internet, air conditioning, heating, smart house remote controls and other technology advances. There is no reason why our houses cannot evolve to accommodate food production as well, with the judicious use of technology.

It has been proven that buildings can sustain living plants. I have seen many plant walls in restaurants and public spaces. Houses should have them too, instead of just flowers. These plant walls remove carbon dioxide and other impurities in the air, regulate humidity and generate oxygen. And there is no reason why you can't have a technology solution to automatically water these plants using "gray water" -- water used to wash your hands, but doesn't have chemicals or sewage in it.

Let's take this concepts of plants in the house one step further. There is no reason why the whole house cannot be optimized by technology to produce food. There is plenty of space both inside and outside the house that is just sitting idle now.

For example, one of the Fairmont Hotels in Canada uses its roof space to grow herbs for their restaurant and they save $30,000 a year by doing so.

This makes the building incredibly green, both literally and figuratively.

By growing our own food, we can control the nutrients and the purity of the food entering our body. We can call upon technology to take care of the mundane tasks like watering and seeing that the plants get the appropriate amount of light. In the indoor environment, there are no pests. The whole concept would create a natural fertilizer industry (made by fermenting food scraps, etc), as well as other niche manufacturing jobs.

By why stop at plants when it comes to producing food. Yesterday on television, they profiled a lawyer in Washington DC who has a very small backyard. She wanted to contribute to the greening of the planet and to the assurance of the domestic food supply. She couldn't do anything about global warming, or greenhouse gases, but she could contribute by raising bees. Bees have been decimated in recent years by pests, weather and disease. Bees pollinate the flowers that produce our food, and if we lose the bees, our food production will cease and there will be mass starvation. The answer lies in a small group of activists who are raising bees in their backyards and on their condo balconies to insure food supplies.

We have also witnessed a boom in raising chickens in an urban environment. But let's face it. The average person is not capable of chopping the head off a chicken. It isn't a particularly appetizing task. I grew up on a farm, and I had to do this, but most people couldn't. Once again we call technology and robotics to the rescue.

You set the above machine up in your closet, clamp your chicken in, and close the door. Then you flip the switch. Voila -- soon you will have Chicken Kiev.

I really do believe that we will see a resurgence of the family farm -- right in our own living rooms.

Images for this entry were harvested from the following sites:

The Next Big Thing for Google

I was reading my online news source yesterday, and an article about Google said that it was still basically a one man show, and that was a search engine. The article idly mused on what next for Google.

Ignoring the fact that Google owns the internet, has become a verb, noun, adverb and adjective, and also ignoring that there is a Google phone, and blogs and marketplace and forums et cetera et ceteri, there is one aspect where Google can be the most helpful digital application for now and for ever and ever Amen. And I have the idea. The idea is GOOGLE OPINION.

Google's basic premise is that the crowd is always right. However, sometimes there is not enough facts, or facts don't exist to definitively answer a question. Everyone has an opinion, however some people's opinions are righter and smarter and better than other people's opinion. So Google should get an opinion.

They should develop a context engine with inference powers. Then they would troll their page records and draw inferences by popular vote. Then Google would have an opinion.

For example, questions like "Are tattoos tasteful?" could be answered. Other questions on which I would like to hear a Google opinion are:

  • Is the death penalty useful?
  • Can psychopaths be rehabilitated?
  • Are most religions a bunch of bunk?
  • What if there were no rhetorical questions?
  • Is there justification for Justin Beiber and his ilk in an enlightened society?
  • If there is a resurrection of the body, can I get my money back from the undertaker?
  • How does a real estate company sell its office building without causing confusion?

As you can see, Google Opinion would be a boon to society. And as for Google, when your bot comes trolling tonight, and you think that this is a good idea, you know where to send money. You have my email address, and my blogs, and all of my info. I know that your corporate motto is "Don't be evil", so I trust that you will send me money for my idea, but you did cozy up to the Chinese for a while and did some censoring.

So I am not quite sure about Google's intention with them having all of my info and not stealing my idea. However, I did a test, and in spite of 165,000 references, Google still doesn't know Satan's last name, so I guess that my information is safe for now. I think that I will ask Google for an opinion on that as well.

Plants that grow on concrete

I was driving down the highway a few days ago on a hot day. I saw row on row of concrete highway barriers separating the direction flow of traffic. Suddenly, there was a splash of green. A bunch of weeds was growing from a crack in the barrier and a crack in the pavement. That is when I got the Eureka moment.

Someone should invent plants that grow on concrete. These plants should like the concrete barriers of the highway. Not only would the optics be nicer, but the plants would suck in the carbon dioxide from the automobile exhaust and make cleaner air.

I googled around for plants that grow on concrete and came away with only one discrete hit. A Canadian company wanted to develop grass seed that would grow anywhere, so they made one that would grow on concrete without soil. Now this won't work because the seeds would blow away, unless you made a slurry of paper that dried and pasted the seeds to the concrete. However, when the slurries dry there isn't enough moisture to grow the seeds.

I thought about a lot of possibilities, like drought resistant algae or moss that would grow on the highway barriers. Clearly there needs to be some creative biology and plant breeding. Someone will eventually breed a plant that will grow on concrete.

There is another way to greenify the highways. That method is to re-design the concrete barriers such they they will grow grass. Take a look at this photo that I found of a plastic highway barrier:

It is plastic filled with sand. Suppose that it were hollow, made to collect rainwater, and had a surface matrix such that it would hold plant seeds, and let the rootlets through to the water, all at the same time of having a mechanically sound traffic barrier. That would be the ticket. Of course you would still have to develop drought-resistant, winter-resistant and salt-resistant plants for the millions of traffic barriers that already exist, but the new ones could make our highways and byways a lot greener. Inventors, get your thinking caps on.

I found the images for this blog entry at:

New Direction

This blog is taking a left turn. The Bahamas experience is what it is, and is no longer novel for me. I am still living in the Bahamas, making my way in technology and doing neat things. However, silly and amusing blog topics no longer hold my interest, and you may have noticed that I have stopped posting for a while.

The new leitmotif of this blog will be ideas of mine that I think we will see in the future. And since I have way too many invention ideas, I will begin posting some of them here.

So if you have been a regular reader, thanks for being so, and I hope that you stick around for the Cosmological Cabbage View of the Future. This will be the "US Today" tabloid of futurism.