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Wednesday Topsight, November 12, 2008

Tick tick ticking in my head.

Nature Does Geo: Nature's blog offers a handy chart comparing the costs and uncertainties surrounding the various commonly-discussed forms of geoengineering. Clip & save!

(Note: More bars="better," not necessarily "more of this.")

• Score One for Vernor: Augmented Reality goggles are so twen-cen. For real augmentation, go for the contact lenses. University of Washington engineers have come up with a key precursor technology: contact lenses with integrated circuitry. Vernor Vinge included them in his novel Rainbows End, and they make a lot of sense. If you don't mind sticking something into your eyes on a regular basis, I suppose.

• PAC DOGS: It's been mentioned by a few other folks, so it's probably not news for most of you, but: Pentagon researchers want to deploy robots in packs in order to "search for and detect a non-cooperative human."

Another commentator often in the news for his views on military robot autonomy is Noel Sharkey, an AI and robotics engineer at the University of Sheffield. He says he can understand why the military want such technology, but also worries it will be used irresponsibly.
    "This is a clear step towards one of the main goals of the US Army's Future Combat Systems project, which aims to make a single soldier the nexus for a large scale robot attack. Independently, ground and aerial robots have been tested together and once the bits are joined, there will be a robot force under command of a single soldier with potentially dire consequences for innocents around the corner."

So, robots that hunt down "non-cooperative humans" at the behest of their human master. Or perhaps the robots are simply the extension of the human-technology ecosystem, expanding the reach and capacities of the human.

This is right out of Transhuman Space, by the way.

• Not Quite a Forest: You have 61 trees on this planet. Please don't lose them.


476 pounds of CO2 per person per year
64 pounds of CO2 uptake per tree per year

7 trees to balance out one person's

from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/0302/03.html

How many trees to balance my breath? Process the C02 I exhale and produce the oxygen I inhale?

Re: "smart" contact lenses and goggles

I've never understood how these are supposed to work. My eyes can't focus close enough to see the dust on my glasses. How are you supposed to see the images if the display isn't at a distance your eye can focus to?


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