David Kirkpatrick

April 17, 2008

3D imagery, Drake formula revision and a little futurism

Today’s roundup from KurzweilAI.net includes a miniature 3D camera, revisiting the Drake formula on intelligent life in the universe, and a group of predictions for the next 50 years.

How to create precision 3D images anywhere
KurzweilAI.net, April 17, 2008

The Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering has developed a miniaturized, portable stereo camera that can create 3D images anywhere.

The “Kolibri CORDLESS” device includes a miniaturized LED-based projector that casts a pattern of stripes on the photographed objects. The geometry of the measured object can be deduced, by software running on a laptop, from the deformation of the stripes.

Uses include gathering evidence at the scene of a crime, measuring faces for medical applications, and measuring the dimensions of installed components in areas that are difficult to access.


Drake formula revisited
KurzweilAI.net, April 17, 2008

University of East Anglia scientist Andrew Watson has developed a new mathematical model of the probability of intelligent life in the universe.

His model, published in the journal Astrobiology, suggests the odds of finding new life on other Earth-like planets are low, given the time it has taken for beings such as humans to evolve, the remaining life span of Earth, and the low probability of the four independent evolutionary steps needed to create intelligent life (less than 0.01 per cent over four billion years).


The Way We Will Be 50 Years From Today
KurzweilAI.net, April 17, 2008

In the new book The Way We Will Be 50 Years From Today: 60 Of The World’s Greatest Minds Share Their Vision Of The Next Half-Century (Thomas Nelson, April 2008), Mike Wallace asks a group of visionaries, including 15 Nobel Prize winners, to describe the next half-century.

Among the forecasts:

– Our grandchildren will live to be 140 years old.
Diseases such as breast cancer and heart disease will be preventable or even wiped out.
– Each of us will have a copy of our own complete DNA sequence, incorporated into a highly accurate electronic medical record and can be accessible from anywhere.
– Schizophrenia and bipolar disorders will be well understood and treatable.
– People will be forced to marry others based on genotypes and those who are not authorized will be subject to tremendous tax burdens for any sick or disabled children.
– Humans will have exhausted most of the coal and oil reserves of the planet and added many pollutants to the environment.
– We may have lived through a nuclear war.

Essayists in the book include Nobel-prize-winner George Smoot, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, Internetco-creator Vint Cerf, and futuristRay Kurzweil.