Distributed or Centralised Infrastructure?

Distributed infrastructure, such as that provided by the internet, allows for more reliability - if one node is damaged, it barely affects the rest of the network. It affords more freedom - less reliance on a centralised 'grid' controlled and manipulated by the elite. It is more in-line with nature, creating a symbiotic entity where the sum is greater than its parts, and each participant compliments the rest with cooperation but doesn't burden the whole either. However, the centralised systems we are used to, those which provide our public infrastructure, still have a place, because they can often be more efficient than a distributed system. For example, it would be difficult to run a train system with solar panels on the station roof, so the train taps into the main grid. When assessing and managing the Earth's resources, a global inventory would be important. We would need to decide on the most efficient solution between distributed and centralised infrastructu

The Key to Automation

Every day seems to see new reports about incredible robots being developed. Robots that carry stuff for soldiers, robots that perform surgery, and robots that play football. It's all very exciting, but what we really need are robots to make our lives easier. To give us more time to do what we want. To do the mundane jobs and free us up to take on more creative work that robots can't do. But how do we go about this? How do we bring robots and automation into our everyday lives, unless robot intelligence is significantly improved? Well, while this intelligence is improving at a rapidly accelerating pace, there is a huge potential for solving problems using simple, task repeating, programmable robotics. The key is to standardize everything . We have to "put it on rails". As an example, let's look at making an automated dish washing system. We have dishwashers, but we still need to load and unload them. We need to develop 2 things. Firstly, we need a robot tha

The Evolution of Complexity

Photo by Alazar Kassahun on Unsplash Matter Evolution Since the first particles were set in motion, every action has been part of a chain reaction. At first, there were the simplest of elementary particles in an empty universe. Hydrogen atoms — single electron entities, were the pinnacle of complexity. Eventually, a few of them collided, stuck together, and f o rmed more complex atoms, and then molecules. Well, it was a little more complicated than that, but you get the idea. These molecules accumulated until there were so many that gravity and magnetism began to have a significant effect. As the gravity increased, the mass increased, and nuclear fusion commenced. Star systems were born. The planets continued a sequence of their own. Eventually molecules increased in complexity by way of chemical reactions in order to form amino acids which then combined to create proteins. These proteins and amino acids increased in complexity until living cells emerged from the chemical p

Product Longevity in a World Driven by Consumption

Image It should be obvious that Product Longevity is incompatible with capitalism as we know it. Our system relies on continuous consumption to perpetuate the workforce, grow enterprise, and maintain profits. While there may be a capitalist incentive to produce long lasting products in some industries, the fact remains that breaking down just outside of the warranty period is the most profitable circumstance. Constant technological advancements seem to be a licence for excessive consumption, ongoing changes justifying the buy-and-throw-away culture. Things, in general, are not designed to be upgraded, they are designed to be superseded and replaced. How do we address this from a sustainability perspective? It’s becoming increasingly apparent that the decoupling of monetary gain from production is imperative. Would it be possible (profitable) for a company to start up, complete a production run of one very long lasting product, and then move onto another, different

How Designer Babies Highlight Society's Immaturity

The question of designer babies is usually met with disdain. You don't even have to be religious to object to the idea of customising a human before it's born. Indeed, this concept doesn't just "go against nature", it makes us question what it means to be human. The possibility of customising an embryo with the view to having an "enhanced" child opens up a veritable test tube of questions. What are the implications of being able to set a child's intelligence, their strengths, their abilities? Then there is the questions that really hit a nerve: "Would people chose not to have a black baby when they know it will be subject to persecution and prejudice?" The whole issue is surrounded by frightening dilemmas. The problem is, it's already here. We currently screen embryos for birth defects such as spina bifida, and many would argue that prevention or removal or deficiencies is a form of enhancement. Of course, we can try to sep