Henrique Oliveira/ http://www.henriqueoliveira.com/
“We humans are changing. We have become so intertwined with what we have created that we are no longer separate from it. We have outgrown the distinction between the natural and the artificial. We are what we make. We are our thoughts, whether they are created by our neurons, by our electronically augmented minds, by our technologically mediated social interactions, or by our machines themselves. We are our bodies, whether they are born in womb or test tube, our genes inherited or designed, organs augmented, repaired, transplanted, or manufactured. Our prosthetic enhancements are as simple as contact lenses and tattoos and as complex as robotic limbs and search engines. They are both functional and aesthetic. We are our perceptions, whether they are through our eyes and ears or our sensory-fused hyper-spectral sensors, processed as much by computers as by our own cortex. We are our institutions, cooperating super-organisms, entangled amalgams of people and machines with super-human intelligence, processing, sensing, deciding, acting. Our home planet is inhabited by both engineered organisms and evolved machines. Our very atmosphere is the emergent creation of forests, farms and factories. Empowered by the tools of the Enlightenment, connected by networked flows of freight and fuel and finance, by information and ideas, we are becoming something new. We are at the dawn of the Age of Entanglement.”
“To every age, a relic: a loom, an automobile, the PC, a 3D printer. L’Encyclopédie was its period’s signpost, cataloguing and concretizing the boundaries between the disciplines, which emerged from the “long eighteenth century” of the Enlightenment. For the next quarter of a millennium, we remained indoctrinated to the shibboleths of this relic, operating within discrete silos-of-thought. At the dawn of the new millennium, the meme “antidisciplinary” appeared, yanking us out of Aristotle’s shadow and into a new ‘Age of Entanglement.’ 
This essay proposes a map for four domains of creative exploration—Science, Engineering, Design and Art—in an attempt to represent the antidisciplinary hypothesis: that knowledge can no longer be ascribed to, or produced within, disciplinary boundaries, but is entirely entangled. The goal is to establish a tentative, yet holistic, cartography of the interrelation between these domains, where one realm can incite ®evolution inside another; and where a single individual or project can reside in multiple dominions. Mostly, this is an invitation to question and to amend what is being proposed.”
“During a recent Executive Program at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, the institution’s co-founder Peter Diamandis made some confident predictions.Within the next decade, he said, self-driving cars will eliminate all driving fatalities. Artificial intelligence will soon surpass the skills of the best human doctors and remove all inefficiencies from health care systems. These AIs will invent new pharmaceuticals to cure previously fatal diseases and will 3D print customized medicines based on genetic analysis of individual patients. Perhaps best of all, he said, plummeting production costs and rising prosperity will make such fantastic medical care essentially free.It’s common for tech industry rhetoric to invoke the ideal of a better world, but since its 2008 inception, Singularity University has articulated an astonishingly ambitious series of goals and projects that use technological progress for philanthropic ends. Medicine is just one of many domains that Diamandis wants to fundamentally change. He and others at Singularity are also working to develop and support initiatives that will provide universal access to high-quality education, restore and protect polluted environments, and transition the economy to entirely sustainable energy sources.”
“From an evolutionary perspective, yeast has no business producing a pain killer. But by re-engineering the microbe’s genome, Christina Smolke at Stanford University in California has made it do precisely that. Smolke and her team turned yeast into a biofactory that, by starting with sugar as a raw ingredient, makes the potent pain-relief drug hydrocodone1.This feat is a prime example of synthetic biology, in which scientists reprogram cells to replicate products found in nature — or even make more-specialized materials that would never normally be produced by a natural organism.Synthetic biologists are ambitious. “We’d all love to imagine a world where we could adapt biology to manufacture any product renewably, quickly and on demand,” says Michael Jewett, a synthetic biologist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Groups around the world are engineering yeast, bacteria and other cells to make plastics, biofuels, medicines and even textiles, with the goal of creating living factories that are cheaper, simpler and more sustainable than their industrial counterparts. For instance, the biomaterials company Spiber Inc. in Tsuruoka, Japan, has reprogrammed bacteria to churn out spider silk for use in strong, lightweight winter clothing.”
“Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, has published a book entitled The Fourth Industrial Revolution in which he describes how this fourth revolution is fundamentally different from the previous three, which were characterized mainly by advances in technology.
In this fourth revolution, we are facing a range of new technologies that combine the physical, digital and biological worlds. These new technologies will impact all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenge our ideas about what it means to be human.
These technologies have great potential to continue to connect billions more people to the web, drastically improve the efficiency of business and organizations and help regenerate the natural environment through better asset management, potentially even undoing all the damage previous industrial revolutions have caused.
But there are also grave potential risks. Schwab outlines his concerns that organizations could be unable or unwilling to adapt to these new technologies and that governments could fail to employ or regulate these technologies properly. In the book he postulates that shifting power will create important new security concerns, and that inequalities could grow rather than shrink if things are not managed properly.”
“The story of “robots eating jobs” is pervasive in the manufacturing industry—but it doesn’t paint the whole picture.
We’ve seen automation eat up jobs, but even as we lost roughly 22 million manufacturing jobs worldwide between 1995 and 2002, we also saw a twenty percent increase in industrial output during that same time.
Further, while some technologies may take jobs, others are breaking down barriers to entry and enabling an incredible DIY movement of makers in the US.
Biohackers are home-brewing insulin, and now, low-cost 3D printers and CNC (computerized numerical control) machines are allowing people with little training to create circuit boards and fabricate basic mechanical parts in the comfort of their homes.
Danielle Applestone, CEO of Other Machine Co, is one of the leaders pioneering this 21st century maker renaissance. The company makes a portable, precise milling machine the Othermill, which creates 2D and 3D objects from digital designs.”
“Micromanufacturing. As soon as I finish typing the word, my Grammarly spell checker promptly underscores it in red and suggests a replacement: “micro-manufacturing.” But this new spelling is about to go mainstream.When I say micromanufacturing, I don’t mean making tiny (micro-scale) components. There’s another definition: “Micromanufacturing is the manufacturing of products in small quantities using small manufacturing facilities.”I’m talking about “tiny factories.”How tiny is tiny? Well, right now, everything-fits-in-one-small-room tiny. Several years down the road, the size of an office copy machine will become the standard of “tiny” in micromanufacturing.”
“People have been told we’re living in the future, but few people are actually seeing the future around them. Instead, most people on this planet are living in worlds that remain aggressively similar to the way they’ve always been, give or take the ability to check something on Wikipedia. We’re told that the technological innovations and brain power we currently employ have reshaped the world and improved people’s lives. Is it better to be living now than 50 years ago? Yes, but that’s surely cold comfort when you can’t pay a medical bill or the bank takes your house or you can’t buy food for your kids—or you simply weren’t lucky enough to be born in a rich country.At some point, people are going to need to feel that this era of technological revolution is lifting them up, not just distracting them from the real problems they face day to day. One world changing idea you can read below is about creating a new economy powered by the automation and free knowledge that the information revolution has created. Let’s make sure we get there—and then we can focus on the more fun problems.”
“The world has gotten a lot smaller over the past century, but the store of knowledge has become unfathomably large. One way to think about it: Last week, I was able to fly across the country in five hours while carrying 10,000 PDFs on my laptop. In his new book A Crude Look at the Whole: The Science of Complex Systems in Business, Life, and Society, complexity theorist John H. Miller puts it this way: “Science has proceeded by developing increasingly detailed maps of decreasingly small phenomena.” The rise of complexity theory, an interdisciplinary field studying the emergent behavior and patterns of the interactions of simple (and not so simple) components, has been one of the most important responses to this ballooning of knowledge, which in 1964 Stanislaw Lem called the “megabyte bomb.” That term may have seemed scary in its time; now it just sounds hilariously and anachronistically small.
[…] In the centuries since the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, there grew the conceit that the universe could be entirely described and even predicted. The most famous embodiment of this idea is Laplace’s demon, the French scientist Pierre-Simon Laplace’s conception of an intelligent entity that, knowing the exact location and inertia of every particle in the universe, could calculate the entirety of the past and future. Laplace described a deterministic, ordered universe: “We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future.””
Five years from now, over one-third of skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.
The report asked chief human resources and strategy officers from leading global employers what the current shifts mean, specifically for employment, skills and recruitment across industries and geographies.
“Chaos theory is the science of surprises. At the heart of chaos theory is the notion that all complex, uncertain, irregular phenomena are underpinned by simple patterns. This blog post discusses the basic ideas of chaos theory, how it surrounds us in everyday life, how it gives meaning to the apparent meaningless, and how beautiful it can be.
[…] Simple is the new complex
Chaos theory states that even irregular, complex, chaotic systems have an underlying order, pattern, and shape. Seemingly simple phenomena can disguise complex interactions, and simple systems can produce complex results. Take a fern leaf: identical shapes are organised on different levels. Each leaf consists of several other complete leaves identical to the original one. Each of those leaves consist of more leaves that look exactly the same as the previous ones and so on and so forth.
[…] Chaos is randomly organised
Chaos and order can co-exist in the same system. Randomness and determinism are not mutually exclusive. There is a delicate play between determinism and free will.[i] Teenagers with messy rooms understand this principle. One boy’s response to his parents’ constant nagging to clean up his room was: “My stuff is neat and organised – just in a very random way”.
The human figure is another example where randomness and determinism co-exist in the same system, so are stock market behaviour and a lightning bolt. Nature simultaneously abhors and strives for symmetry and equilibrium. The idea is that disorder, irregularity and chaos unfold in distinct, identifiable patterns. Not the ones we know as simple triangles, circles or rectangles, rather multidimensional, ever-changing shapes.”
“Despite the vastness of the sky, airplanes occasionally crash into each other. To avoid these catastrophes, the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) was developed. TCAS alerts pilots to potential hazards, and tells them how to respond by using a series of complicated rules. In fact, this set of rules — developed over decades — is so complex, perhaps only a handful of individuals alive even understand it anymore. When a TCAS is developed, humans are pushed to the sidelines and, instead, simulation is used. If the system responds as expected after a number of test cases, it receives the engineer’s seal of approval and goes into use.
While the problem of avoiding collisions is itself a complex question, the system we’ve built to handle this problem has essentially become too complicated for us to understand, and even experts sometimes react with surprise to its behaviour. This escalating complexity points to a larger phenomenon in modern life. When the systems designed to save our lives are hard to grasp, we have reached a technological threshold that bears examining.
For centuries, humans have been creating ever-more complicated systems, from the machines we live with to the informational systems and laws that keep our global civilisation stitched together. Technology continues its fantastic pace of accelerating complexity — offering efficiencies and benefits that previous generations could not have imagined — but with this increasing sophistication and interconnectedness come complicated and messy effects that we can’t always anticipate. It’s one thing to recognise that technology continues to grow more complex, making the task of the experts who build and maintain our systems more complicated still, but it’s quite another to recognise that many of these systems are actually no longer completely understandable. We now live in a world filled with incomprehensible glitches and bugs. When we find a bug in a video game, it’s intriguing, but when we are surprised by the very infrastructure of our society, that should give us pause.
One of the earliest signs of technology complicating human life was the advent of the railroads, which necessitated the development of standardised time zones in the United States, to co-ordinate the dozens of new trains that were criss-crossing the continent. And things have gotten orders of magnitude more complex since then in the realm of transportation. Automobiles have gone from mechanical contraptions of limited complexity to computational engines on wheels. Indeed, it’s estimated that the US has more than 300,000 intersections with traffic signals in its road system. And it’s not just the systems and networks these machines inhabit. During the past 200 years, the number of individual parts in our complicated machines — from airplanes to calculators — has increased exponentially.”