Month: December 2013

A new race to space

Did anyone else ever play the strategy game Civilisation? I became obsessed with the second version as a kid, but every time I played it my ‘strategy’ was to build as many military units and cities and pursue technologies that allowed for ever more advanced weaponry. That was what won me the game, after a while – world domination.

I had a little go at the fourth version, and instantly found myself doing exactly the same thing. I Googled strategy guides for the game and discovered that you need to pay close attention to a huge variety of various factors to succeed. Territory and big cities were crucial.

Anyway – to the point.

This weekend there was a long article in the Guardian by the paper’s science correspondent Ian Sample all about a “new space race” that many fear could result in the militarisation of an area that no state has or is able to lay claim to.

Stars and Solar systems

Going to visit the bright lights

Then I remember my brief game of Civilisation – what happens when human life is no longer sustainable on this planet and we are forced to hop planets? Or even Solar Systems?

While Mr Sample writes about the implications of competition and tension between countries such as China and India, looking further into the future space is a whole new and vast territory to be explored. And, I must add, not only explored but colonised in a characteristically human way.

Lego spaceship

Not SO far away… coming to a store near you soon!

International collaboration and smooth diplomacy will be critical, but as everyone knows money is power. If China forges ahead with its space programme, the likelihood is that it will be on the same level, if not ahead of the United States and Europe in terms of technology and capacity for space exploration.

Who do you think will rule the unknown, and what do you think the ramifications will be?

Olsoweir

(Images courtesy of Sweetie187 and legoz tourist 328)

… MY Life on Camera? What?!

So everyone is going bananas about the intelligence Big Boys in the US and UK basically having the access to everything we ever thought was private and off limits to the state. Call me passive (I am, a bit), but I’m not that fussed.

Hands up who’s got a Facebook account? Yeah, thought so. The most popular social network has 1.19 billion monthly active users as of September 30, 2013. This is one reason why I’m not that bothered that the NSA has access to all the conversations I have and have had. There’s so many people to spy on! Why would they bother looking at me? Go ahead, look through my texts, phone calls and whatever else you have. Do me!

But then I think about what the future may hold, and I start to really think. Where are we headed as a human race? 20 years ago mobile phones didn’t exist. Now the Google Geeks over in Silicon Valley are preparing to sell a pair of glasses that can take videos and pictures at the tap of a finger, a voice command – and thanks to some unknown digital fanatic – the blink of the wearer’s eyes.

The Economist hit the nail on the head in an article a few weeks back and discussed the ramifications of a device that over time could become unobtrusive and the norm, just as glasses, watches and even clothes became the norm over the history of humans. In the Briefing section, the article documented the life project of an Irish computer scientist who, for the past seven years, has been taking a photograph of his immediate surroundings with a wide angle lens hung around his neck every minute. Yes – EVERY MINUTE. Check out the video:

A search engine for the self

So, in light of this, I started to think about some really scary things:

  • What if, in the future, in the same way as everyone is required to own some sort of ID or proof of who they are, everyone was forced to wear one of these in the interests of say, preventing crime?
  • What if cameras with face recognition could cross reference with a future social network similar to Facebook, leading to a complete stranger knowing exactly who you are, where you work and the full name and address of your partner?
  • What if someone was able to hack into your (compulsory) wide angle camera and watch you having sex with your partner?

The number 1984 springs to mind, or rather explodes in my mind, showering my frontal lobe with metaphorical glass in the process.

The thing is, I really do believe that this is the future. In the UK, we are already the nation with the most CCTV camera’s per person. That’s all well and good – but do I want people taking pictures of me while I’m buying a tuna crunch baguette from Greggs? Do YOU? F***, I hope you don’t, because I certainly don’t.

Olsoweir