Next Meeting: May 14 @ Victory Cafe

Each month Interested in The Future group members meet to discuss the future, make predictions and read predictions that were made in the past. All are welcome. Come early and stay till the end, or come and go as you please.

Location:

The Victory Cafe
581 Markham St. Toronto
We have the front room reserved. Enter the front doors and turn left.

The Agenda:

6:30 Dinner
7:00 Opening Committee
8:00 General Meeting
(details below)

6:30 Dinner

If you’d like to have dinner as a group please arrive at 6:30pm. This will be an open discussion period where we may talk about the past.

7:00 Opening Committee

Opening predictions can be a touch tedious when the envelope is particularly stuffed. The “Opening Committee” consists of anyone who happens to be present when we open the envelope. We will read the predictions and determine whether they were accurate or not, or if they require verification. The Opening Committee will attempt to verify as many predictions as possible and we will organize them so that anyone who joins the meeting late can easily take a look at them

8:00 General Meeting

  1. Introductions: Who are you and why are you interested in The Future?
  2. Review of accurate predictions
  3. General discussion of topics we might make predictions about
  4. Submission of predictions to be opened in 6 months, 1 year and 5 years
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Published in: on May 13, 2010 at 4:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Martian Greens

Futuristic Greenhouse Domes might be the only way to grow food on Mars

There’s a story on New Scientist about the feasibility of growing plants in space and on Mars. The conclusion is that while some organisms can survive space travel (even in the vacuum of space!) they will not survive the harsh UV rays of the Sun that fall on the red planet. Plus, the dirt on Mars probably doesn’t have the organic material that would be friendly to growing plants.

All of this means that if we’re going to send humans to Mars we’re going to have to bring some potting soil with us, and some classically-styled UV shielding greenhouse domes. I’m okay with that. But there’s still the ethical question of potentially destroying life that may already exist there.

I hate to be the one to say it but, if there are microorganisms alive on Mars… uh, does that matter? Yes, yes, it matters, I know, and there are a lot of people who would be really, really excited about studying the bacteria or whatever may be over there, but we might have already contaminated Mars with Earthling organisms, so…

(more…)

Published in: on April 30, 2010 at 6:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Next Meeting: April 21 @ The Victory Cafe

Welcome to the April meeting of Interested in The Future!

It’s as straight forward as ever, but it’s been a while since we’ve had a meeting, so there will be a lot of predictions to be read.

Here’s the Agenda for the evening:

6:30pm Dinner

The dinner portion of the meeting will be an opportunity to discuss the future of the future meetings. There have been some new ideas about the format and structure of the meetings that we feel are worth discussing. If you would like to be involved in the discussion, please arrive at 6:30

8:00 pm General Meeting

  1. Introductions: Who are you and why are you Interested in The Future
  2. The Reading of Predictions
  3. Discussion of Topics About Which We May Make Predictions
  4. The Submission of Predictions to be Read in The Future

The way a typical meeting goes is we order food and drink and talk like normal humans do, but with The Future as a central point in our conversations. It’s fun!

Bring your friends!

I’ve reserved the front room of the Victory Cafe for us from 6:30 onward, so let’s have dinner, then wait until 8 or so before opening any predictions.

Date: Wednesday, April 21st
Time: Dinner from 6:30 Drinks from 8:00pm
Where: The Victory Cafe
Address: 581 Markham St, Mirvish Village

Please find us on facebook to RSVP, or vote in the poll below.

Published in: on April 20, 2010 at 4:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Vocalizing Robots – Creepy

This is your new Robotic Vocalizer

How efficient is human speech? It seems to work well for us, because we need to breathe anyway, so we might as well use our exhalation to make sounds to communicate.

But for Robots?

Robots don’t use respiration in the functioning of their body, so what is the point of making Robots that use air to vocalize?

The point isn’t entirely to creep us out. Once this kind of thing is perfected it could be used to augment or replace damaged humans who are no longer able to use their own bodies to make intelligible sounds.

The Waseda Talker is one project with the goal of refining Robotic speech, but if you watch the videos at the end of the page they really haven’t managed to produce anything but moaning sounds (which, depending on the purpose of the Robot, might work out just fine)

I guess the ultimate goal of these project is to develop a ‘more natural’ kind of speech for Androids. So far the results haven’t been too convincing though. Human speech is so complex that there aren’t really any other animals that can do it. Walking, grasping, climbing, running, seeing, these are all things humans and animals are able to do quite easily and replicating that behavior in Robots has been challenging, but not impossible. Only humans can speak with any subtlety and I predict it will be decades before we can get Robots to replicate that.

As I said earlier though, Robots don’t need to pass air in and out of their bodies the way humans do, so perhaps this is the wrong approach to developing mechanical vocalization.

Oh, I just had a thought. Robots do need to circulate air, as a way of cooling their machinery and computers. Interesting.

A couple of questions I expect Science Fiction authors to contemplate from now on:

  1. What will the Robot accent sound like? It won’t be the stereotypical “Heh-low I am a Ro-Bot” if this method of generating speech is generated, but it also won’t be the same as any human accent.
  2. What does robot breath smell like? Will it be like the air coming out of your computer? Will it smell of lubricant and dust?

I’ve included a couple of videos of creepy Robot vocalization prototypes after the cut.

(more…)

Published in: on April 19, 2010 at 2:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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We need to talk… about The Future

We haven’t had a meeting in a while, and I think it’s about time we did.

When would be a good date in the month of April? Please vote for EACH evening that you are NOT available to attend a Future Meeting. I’ll try to schedule the meeting for a conflict-free date!

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CNVFWMJ

Published in: on April 9, 2010 at 2:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Notes from the Future – 02/18/10

CNNMoney.com – The Future of Reading

All the tablet is going to be I believe is access to the web. Can you tie some new business models to it? Maybe, but then you’ve got to count upon millions upon millions upon millions of people using that device. The issue with the tablet, the reason that I think there’s so much desire for it, is that it is the last effort, the last hope that old media properties think that they have that there’s something that will return control to them.

itwire – NASA Boss says: Let’s go to Mars

According to the Houston Chronicle newspaper, Bolden thinks that the United States can land U.S. astronauts on Mars and return them safely back to Earth sometime in the 2030s, possibly even by the early part of that decade.

Willamette Week – David Levine just got back from Mars

Portland science fiction writer David Levine has never been to Mars. However he was recently in Utah – which can sometimes feel as foreign as Mars. What was he doing in Utah? Living on a simulated Mars habitat of course. For two weeks last month David spent his days collecting Mars rocks and eating re-hydrated food at the Mars Desert Research Station – all for the sake of promoting space and future space travel. We spoke with him recently about his trip

more about the same project.

Published in: on March 1, 2010 at 9:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Future Meeting February 12.

The next Future Meeting will take place Friday, February 12th at 8pm at the Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton St, Toronto)

The Agenda is as follows:

  • Who are you and why are you interested in The Future
  • Opening of Earlier Predictions
  • Topics about which we may predict the future
  • Submission of new predictions to be opened in 6 months, and in 5 years.

Please indicate your intention to attend using the above poll. Thanks!

Published in: on February 7, 2010 at 4:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Year End Meeting this Wednesday

It’s been a big year, with a lot of big historic things taking place, but we at Interested in The Future are not interested in the past, so let’s get together one last time in 2009 and talk about next year.

This meeting will follow a similar format to every other Future Meeting we’ve had this year but with a few more prediction making options.

We’ll start with the standard introductions, followed by a short discussion of topics we might want to predict the future about, then we’ll write some predictions. Finally we’ll open and read / verify some old predictions.

The standard time frame we’ve been using for predictions has been 6 months, but given that this is our first anniversary, and the end of the year we will have a separate envelope for predictions to be opened in one year’s time. We may even have an envelope for 5 year predictions. How does that sound?

Date: Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
Time: 8:00pm
Place: The Crown and Tiger 414 College St. at Lippincott
Published in: on December 28, 2009 at 1:17 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Party Planning for The Future

December, 2009 will be the one year anniversary of Interested in The Future. It started as a facebook group but immediately jumped into meatspace with our first meeting on December 17, 2008.

The upcoming December meeting will be a regular affair, but I would like to throw a large party in January titled “The Future in Review 2009”.

If you would like to be involved in the planning of this event please leave a comment and we’ll get in touch.

The main things we need to think about are:

  • Promotion. So we can expect 30 people or more
  • Posters to display our correct predictions at the event
  • Equipment required, etc.
Published in: on November 24, 2009 at 9:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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November 19, 2009 Meeting recap

The CUI Symposium, Designing Transit Cities, was very interesting, but I can’t say it inspired much of the conversation at the Future Meeting that took place directly afterward. Most of the attendees were students from Ryerson University’s School of Urban and Regional Planning and we’ve all had a pretty intense semester so far (and it will only get more tense as we proceed). So we decided to limit the amount of planning talk for our sake and for the sake of my animator friend who was there.

We opened predictions from March and April, 2009. This was because we haven’t been able to successfully schedule a future meeting for some months. These predictions should have been opened in September and October. The predictions to be opened in November and December will be opened next month.

We decided that rather than judge the predictions on their accuracy within the time frame written on the envelope we would judge them as being correct if they came true before the envelope was opened. For instance, in March if someone had predicted something that did not happen before September, but did happen before November 19th, we would count that as correct because we did not open the envelope until November 19th, even though it would have been incorrect if it had been read in September.

The predictions we opened were very interesting. Some notable correct predictions were Murray’s assertion that Toronto would win the PAN AM Games, which was fairly exciting. And Vivian predicted that Ford would increase production, which they did, spurred on by the cash for clunkers program. Irem predicted with 75% accuracy that I would have a goatee (in fact I currently have a mustache due to my participation in Movember. A mustache would normally count for only 50% of a goatee except for the extreme unlikeliness that I would have either form of facial hair).

We also had some incorrect predictions that were very telling of our mindsets back in March/April. I look forward to the December meeting. We’ll be opening predictions from May and June, and we will be making predictions for June, 2010. We’ll also be introducing a bright blue envelope which will remain sealed for 1 full year.

Published in: on November 22, 2009 at 11:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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