David A. Antler


Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything

By Zach Weinersmith;Kelly Weinersmith

Read: 2018-01-09
Rating: 7/10
ISBN: 978-0399563829

Pop-science laced with humor. My favorite chapter was the first, and you can read it for free with a Kindle sample. You should be entertained if you enjoy the author’s other work, such as the Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comics. This book may make you a bit more optimistic about the future.

my notes

If you refer to propellant as “fuel,” a NASA engineer will beat you with a TI-83. Propellant is actually a combination of two things: fuel and oxidizer.

The big problem for a spaceplane is that you need multiple types of engines to handle all the different speeds and conditions you encounter en route to space.

Dr. Bull shows up in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, working on a supercannon called Project Babylon.

scientists separate asteroids into three main categories: C-type (carbonaceous), S-type (stony), and M-type (metal).

Suppose you launch a nuclear-powered ship into space and things don’t quite go right. Suppose, for instance, the ship starts moving around dangerously and you lose control over it. Suppose it then breaks up in the atmosphere and dumps the remains of a nuclear reactor over a 400-mile-long swath of Canada. Yeah, that happened. Cosmos 954, in 1977. So your nuclear reactor plan is nice and all, but you’ll probably end up sticking with solar for political reasons.

the resources in space are vastly greater than those found on Earth: “The materials we can access on Earth in the deepest mines are 3 to 4 kilometers deep. We can get to oil that is maybe down to 6 or 7 kilometers. But if we take the materials that we can reach on all the continents in the world and bunch it into a sphere, it would be about 200 kilometers across. That is all the material that we’re ever going to have to work with on the surface of the earth. In space, there is hundreds or thousands of times as much material. So not only can we support hundreds or thousands of times as many people off that material, but also it’s readily accessible. It’s floating around in free space.

you may have been spared from a more radioactive world thanks to . . . fracking and Vietnam.

If you think about it, a room is just a box that keeps nature out and Internet in.

Roombots are explicitly designed to make the stuff in your room reconfigurable.

company twenty bucks? Or, yes you could illegally download a bootleg

When Gaia (a robot) asked individual students for access to a building, it was only allowed in 19% of the time. But when Gaia approached groups, it got in 71% of the time. So pay attention, robotic readers: People get stupid in groups.

Ernst Neufert proposed a concept called the Hausbaumaschine, designed to make buildings fast by putting a house-building factory on train tracks. Imagine it—an entire factory slowly moves along a track, taking in raw materials and squeezing five-story housing out the back. Like a giant worm excreting suburbs.

SAM, the “semi-automated mason.” SAM is awesome. If you have a minute, go to YouTube.

Perhaps in the future some combination of flying and ground-based robots will appear in your yard like reverse locusts, leaving you a nice gazebo before they pass on.

In general, if companies can produce the same amount of stuff with fewer workers, that doesn’t mean there will be fewer total workers. Why? Because when the price of a good drops, often we buy a lot more. Clothing is an excellent example. The Industrial Revolution made clothes cheaper, but we responded by buying way more clothes.

“The real danger of the ‘rise of the robots’ is not that they’ll take all our jobs, but that they’ll cause continually increasing inequality.”

A ‘fiducial marker’ is an object placed in reality that is easy for a computer to recognize visually.

We’ve gotten pretty damn good at altering biology. One time, we took a single species called Brassica oleracea and turned it into every vegetable you hated as a kid—brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, collard greens. YES. All one species, slowly modified over generations into a thousand okay-tasting forms, each more cheese-requiring than the last.

By synthesizing DNA with the right code, you can store up to 10 billion gigabytes of data in a space smaller than a drop of water. That’s fifty million copies of The Lord of the Rings movies, or half a copy of Windows 10.

one study found that levels of four specific microRNAs were a strong predictor of whether someone with lung adenocarcinoma was likely to live a long time (over four years on average) or a short time (a little over nine months). Information like this can help patients and doctors decide how aggressively to approach cancer, and can help patients make decisions about how to live their remaining life spans.

Molecular biomarkers can tell us about other diseases, like Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and even what sort of flu you may have. In fact, if you go to Google Scholar and type in “microRNA profile,” you’ll find an enormous number of papers written just in the past few years,

if you go to Google Scholar and type in “microRNA profile,” you’ll find an enormous number of papers written just in the past few years, which show that there are signatures for just about every disease from prostate

At the moment, we’re mostly good at printing cell slabs that are about a millimeter thick. We can’t get much thicker than this since we haven’t perfected printing blood vessels, which means all inputs to and outputs from the cell work through diffusion.

One method they use is called “sugar sintering." ”Sintering" usually refers to an industrial processes where you lay down a layer of powdered metal, then use heat (from, say, a laser) to form it into a solid object. When done in a very precise way, it can be used as a method of 3D printing.

economists call “moral hazard.” The idea is that if you put people in situations where they can behave badly, you will probably get bad behavior.

For cultural reasons, and perhaps biological reasons, many transactions are considered to be, well, repugnant when money comes into play. Adopting a child is okay. Buying a child is weird.

after surgery. This is not a small matter for people with dangerous brain conditions. It also makes it easier in principle to know if the procedure actually worked, which

our biggest fear in writing this book was that someone would call us inaccurate. Or, as we the dorky call it, “the in-word.”