Saturday, August 20, 2011

Strategies for how to live forever

Every human is mortal. Our time on earth is limited. This ultimate truth motivates us to find ways to overcome our mortality.

For example, 
A) by extending your lifespan [body immortality], 
B) by preserving your unique self [mind and soul immortality], or 
C) by creating a legacy that reminds people of you [social immortality].

[Click to enlarge]
There are different strategies to delay or beat the inevitable [See concept map above].

Social immortality: You can try leaving a legacy that reminds people of your unique self, for example by creating artwork (writing books, composing songs, paint a picture, etc.) or donating money (aka to have something named after you).

Mind immortality: You can try preserving your unique mind, either actively by uploading your mind (see technological singularity), or passively by passing on your ideas (for example through educating your children or through your artwork).

Body immortality: You can try preserving your body as long as possible through a healthy diet, sports, and medicine. Beyond that, you can enhance your body through robotic replacement parts, freeze your body (cryogenics), or use cloning (to get new body parts). The most common way to achieve body immortality is passing on your genes to your children. This comes with the additional benefit that you can also pass on some of your values and ideas to your children [See mind immortality].

Soul immortality: The concept of an immortal part of ourselves - the soul - is promoted by numerous religions. 

People are often heavily invested in a particular belief system that promises eternal life. Many wars have been fought over different immortality systems [For example, see the interesting and humorous book on death and afterlife "Heidegger and a Hippo walk through those Pearly Gates"].

No matter what immortality strategy you pursue, ultimately we are all on the same level - we are all mortal and should try to make the best out of the limited time we have.

Some more ideas for how to extend your life [see infograph below]:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Home library of the future

With ebooks on the rise, paper-based books might largely disappear in the future, especially in people's private libraries. Personal libraries show visitors what kind of books the home owner likes to read and are a status symbol of an educated person. How will the personal home library of the future look like?

Some of my ideas:

  • Book covers (or virtual bookshelves) could be projected on white walls. Touching a virtual book would then automatically load it to an ebook reading device. [Alternatively, augmented reality devices could be used to display a library, but this would have the disadvantage that visitors could not browse through books.]
  • Book dummies made from lightweight material could fill the bookshelves. Book dummies are hollow, foldable boxes in the shape of the original book. They have the book cover, spine, and back of the original book printed on them. Each book dummy contains a chip that stores the ebook (or a QR code that links to the ebook). In case the library owner needs to move, the book dummies could easily be folded and stacked.
On the other hand, public libraries will offer both printed and electronic books. Print-on-demand services can allow printing paper copies of books when needed.

Let me know about your ideas of the library of the future.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Evolution vs Gravity

The contestants in the 2011 beauty pageant "Miss USA" were asked if they support evolution education in U.S. public schools.

The process of evolution is better understood than the theory of gravity, but nobody questions if gravity should be taught in science classes. As an entertaining experiment, the word "evolution" has been replaced by the word "gravity" in the Miss USA 2011 interview.

Evolution vs Gravity poll

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Changing the Epistemology of Wikipedia

Wikipedia aims to collaboratively collect the “sum of all human knowledge" (in the words of Jimmy Wales). However, some critics of Wikipedia believe that the whole Western tradition of footnotes and sourced articles needs to be rethought if Wikipedia is going to continue to gather converts beyond its current borders.  

Achal Prabhala, an adviser to the Wikimedia Foundation, expressed his criticism in a video project, “People are Knowledge”:

People are Knowledge (subtitled) from Achal R. Prabhala on Vimeo.

Prabhala suggests that Wikipedia should allow video and audio statements of people as sources to support articles. This would allow capturing non-written forms of knowledge.

My two cents: If we see knowledge as a social construct, then could Wikipedia add a social voting system for articles (similar to or Youtube). Readers could vote for the reliability of an article and indicate the level of their expertise. This could give readers another indicator of the trustworthiness of a Wikipedia article. 

Monday, August 15, 2011

What are websites made of? (Infograph)

Found here: what_websites_madeof_infographic_full-e1313087947326.jpg (600×4002)

Students' use of technology (Infograph)

Found here: students-love-tech1.jpg (800×2797)

Selfish Gene: The Musical at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Richard Dawkin's book "The Selfish Gene" will become the world's first "biomusical" at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Book tickets here: Selfish Gene: The Musical | Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Star Trek theme park planned in Jordan

King Abdullah of Jordan, who is a big Star Trek fan and had a brief cameo on an episode of Star Trek: Voyager in 1995, invests 1.5 billion US dollars to build a 74-hectare Star Trek amusement theme park. Construction start is scheduled for 2012.

Read more here: Jordan theme park treks ahead - The National

How people in academia see each other

Found here: