darpa-biological technologies office

they say when you open pandora's box, there is no way to get everything back inside should the desired results turn out detrimental to be what one envisioned.  this is why i am happy that innovation and invention involving elements of life with biology, genetics and manipulation of chemistry that hold the potential for great destruction to man happen inside confined and sealed spaces.

i have been following the ebola outbreak in guinea, sierre leone, liberia and a few other nations with interest.  i actually know one person that has survived ebola, a disease that traditionally does not bode well for the vast majority of people who get in.  usually ebola wins.

another thing i am about to do is throw away my smart phone.  why?  the optimizers of the operating system are making them to be a digital cash register and in the effort to design prettier gui's and make the idiocy of posting information to social media "simpler!"    not only is it slowing down the performance of the devices, it is just highlighting the issue with how technology traditionally operates.   many time it is new technology that is seeking a use, instead of "what do i need and want"  driving technology development.

perhaps it is these two elements that have a bit of fear or trepidation with where man is heading.   i can't think of a more interesting time with technology with nanotech, machine learning, advanced artificial intelligence, 3d manufacturing and the various splinters of genetics, bionics and organ-farming; aided with computation power that shows now real sign of slowing - you have a recipe for some truly remarkable changes for mankind. 

i get this image into my mind, then i look out at the broad view of the world.   i was reminded of this view by a neat man i know who started with a tiny pizza shop that has grown into several restaurants.  i asked him how he was, "i am fine, mark.  there is all these things happening, this person wants this, that one wants that, but when i stop and think of the big picture, our lives are very good."     we have health,  food, a place to sleep, nice families and i think a belief that there is far more to life than we can understand.  a good life.

I also realize 40% of the the planet drinking really bad water and another 25% of it hungry and desiring food (anyone know the figure for what percentage is homeless or has no home?)  and you see that while we have a portion of the world doing well, a large sector of it isn't doing so great. 

how does this all change?  i really don't know.  the agrowvillage and augmanity projects are almost diametrical-  yet, they deal with the same core issue -  man and the internal and the external issues that get twisted living in either a  developed or survival mode life.

darpa is a place i would love to work, not so much to  make better weapons, but because you are playing at a high level with bleeding edge research.    the irony of making better weapons, is that we create different wounds and injuries to deal with.   much of what we will see to change our lives with robotic surgery, truly remarkable body part replacement, and i dare say organ farming; will have come from advanced research to solve the problem of collateral damage from man's inability to evolve and live in peace.   we will allow people to have longer lives, but will they really enjoy "living" them?  or will we advance so far to have stores called "body depot" where the do-it-yourselfer can go to get a new kidney, heart, eyes, and tools to connect them?

advanced technology still seems to not really worry too much about the internal health of man.  they are more interested in the speed of getting things done, but are they really any faster?  i keep repeating that man really is a remarkable too maker, yet, for whatever reasons, he seems to spend the least amount of time refining himself.  

the good news is we are too busy creating new technologies which will will fall under the issue of "how do kill a great new idea?"  - answer - you let a committee work on it.     the downside is that all these great new items at mans disposal will turn out like the aforementioned smart phone trajectory that leads man to say "i am just going to throw this out,  it isn't doing what i wish it would anymore.  i have no intention of wearing smart underwear that will transmit my bowel movements to my social network,  or have an oatmeal company send me a coupon printed on toilet paper."

the problem today is people will just follow, click send, and not stop to think, much less  ask, "why?"

this, is the interesting path of where the next 30 years of technology will go.    is transhumanism a good thing?   i see many elements that i think are - the weakness i see is that man isn't wise enough, notice i didn't say smart enough - but wise enough to handle what it can do.

pandora's box was opened many years ago, but now it is all out of the safety of the labs.   while man will adapt, change, and modify to each new unplanned mutation - i do think of what can happen when the technology is in the hands of a mind that isn't too stable.

frightening. maybe that is what i think when reading the BTO darpa news.  no matter how cool the technologies appear to be.