June 06, 2008

Seeds of a new manufacturing revolution

A transformation in the pace of economic growth can be achieved even without nanofactories. These pre-nanofactory methods would transition well to a world with nanofactories when they do arrive.

A coordinated effort by research, companies and government could be made to plan and develop Rapid Automated Manufacturing by 2030. There could be an increase in economic growth into the 10-20% per year range even for developed countries like the USA. Technology roadmaps and planning would be needed to perfect materials, supply chains, real time monitoring, approval processes and deployment of the technologies and methods listed below, the world could transition to radically faster economic growth. It would take a lot of work to get everything coordinated to have this effort scale and transform each of the industries in order for nationwide growth rate to move a bunch. It would be exactly like the societal transformation to mass production and industrialization back in the early 1900s. Education, Industry and government and society would all have to adapt. The carrot is after you do it in a few decades your nation is a hundred times richer than it would have been if it had not been done.

Contour crafting (scaling up inkjet/rapid prototyping up to making buildings) Use cement as the ink. Layer by layer additive construction. 200 times
faster than conventional methods. 5 times lower cost for construction. It can use insitu (dirt and water that is already on site) materials. Adding a step for applying spray on solar power would also be an evolutionary improvement. (It would also be safer than having workers install rooftop solar panels.)

Print private houses first, then multi-story buildings and then bridges, roads and everything else.

Inflatable electric cars. Flatship cars from a factory like Ikea furniture and could be as cheap as $2500 for an environmentally friendly car.

GE OLEDs produced roll to roll

Reel to reel production of electronics can be hundreds to thousands of times faster than current lithography factories for making computers and factories for making electronics, televisions, video monitors.

Printing presses can get up to speeds of 2500-3000 feet per minute.

Reprap is an inexpensive fabrication system that can now self-replicate. The machine can make another copy of itself and construct other devices.

Fabbers and scanners now

Rapid manufacturing now

Lunar dust + epoxy + carbon nanotubes = lunar cement
Note: only water is whatever is in the epoxy. New materials can help enable wider use of rapid automated manufacturing.

Singularity lite - accelerated technology development for achieving increased levels of economic growth

Intermediate systems from now to nanofactories

Desktop Factory says per-cubic-inch printing costs will hover somewhere around $1. The Desktop Factory 3D printer builds robust, composite plastic parts that can be sanded and painted when desired. Their goal by 2011 is to have their 3D printer below $1000.

Predictions for 2016

Rapid prototyping at wikipedia

MEMS robot precursors to nanobots

Rapid manufacturing at wikipedia

June 05, 2008

Built for Speed: Printing Buildings

Contour Crafting is an effort to scale up rapid prototyping/manufacturing (a billion dollar industry to make 3 dimensional parts) and inkjet printing techniques to the scale of building multi-story buildings and vehicles. The process could accelerate the trillion dollar (US only) construction industry by 200 times. Projections indicate costs will be around one fifth as much as conventional construction. (Land prices are unchanged, so the actual prices of homes would not change as much in say Hawaii, Tokyo, Manhattan or San Francisco). Using this process, a single house or a colony of houses, each with possibly a different design, may be automatically constructed in a single run, embedded in each house all the conduits for electrical, plumbing and air-conditioning. [H/T to a reader Bonesteel] Contour crafting could be one part of a new manufacturing revolution

The machine will cost between $500K to $700K for average size (2000 sq ft -- 200 m2) detached houses. This is not much given that a concrete pump truck is now $300k-$400K. Note that with one machine numerous homes can be built. The first commercial machines to be available this year, 2008. The machine will be collapsible to form into an easy truck load. The unloading and setup will take between 1-2 hours.

Behrokh Khoshnevis is the visionary who has been driving this concept. He is the Director of the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies (CRAFT) and Director of Manufacturing Engineering Graduate Program at USC.

Initial plan is to use the technology for emergency shelters and low-income housing in underdeveloped countries (Mexico, with the demand for nearly 500,000 houses per year, seems to be a good starting choice for implementation), almost immediately after its development they will address local building codes for commercial deployment of CC in the US.

Because of the unprecedented speed of CC construction, attendant improvements in the construction inspection process will be required. They plan to develop advanced sensory systems and information technologies for automated real-time inspection and feedback to municipal computers overseeing ongoing CC construction activities at various locations.

Competing Construction Automation
There are two categories of automation considered by the Japanese construction companies. The first uses single task robots that can replace simple labor
activities at the construction sites. Single task robots can be classified by four different types- concrete floor finishing, spray painting, tile inspection, and material handling.

The second category consists of fully automated systems that can construct high
raised steel buildings or steel reinforced concrete buildings using prefabricated
components. An example of this approach is Big-Canopy, which is the world’s first automated construction system for building a precisely defined concrete structure and has four independent masts supporting an overhead crane which delivers components at the control of a simple joystick. All tasks are scheduled and controlled by a centralised information control system. The introduction of robotics at construction sites has contributed to productivity, safety, and quality improvements. Yet, the contribution of robotics at current levels is not revolutionary and current automation approaches are still geared toward conventional processes. Automating conventional processes (such as using a brick laying robot) is invariably expensive, hence the associated cost saving is minimal. Fast changing construction requirements and project complexities create complicated requirements and exceptional challenges for automation technology to meet.

The Big Canopy construction system can be divided into the following subsystems:
· a roof supported by four tower crane posts, which are situated outside the building
· a complex hoist system with three cranes mounted against the roof
· a jib crane on the roof to mount and to dismantle the tower crane posts
· a high-speed construction lift to all floors
· all components bar-coded for easy identification
· a material management system to manage the flow of materials and components

The Big Canopy automated construction system ensures good working and environmental conditions, shorter construction time (about 13% less), less waste and improved overall productivity (0.9% less cost).

There are Prefabricated homes
Modular homes
Panelized homes

Panelized home construction can complete the project in 90 days from the time we begin to dig. Custom plans generally take four-to-six months from start of construction to finish. The weather-tight shell finished in days, as opposed to the many weeks required with "site framing."

So all prior efforts to improve building construction are vastly inferior to contour construction if contour construction delivers on its goals.

Three subsystems are required to build a complete house in one day. The Extrudable Materials and Fabrication (EMF) thrust will research and develop materials, extrusion systems, and structures built by extrusion of materials. The Modular Components and Assembly (MCA) thrust will research and develop the non-extrudable components required by the grand challenge ­ such as reinforcement, electrical, plumbing, and sensor systems ­ and on the robots required both to assemble these components and to deploy the extrusion systems developed by the first thrust. The Integrated Software Systems (ISS) thrust will research and develop the software needed to go from design through construction, including planning and controlling the behavior of the multitude of robots to be developed by the previous thrust, and providing the logistical support required for constructing a house in a day, or beyond this to constructing a full community in a small number of days.

Environmental benefits
Globally more than 40 percent of all raw materials are consumed in the construction process. Each of the 6 million new houses built in the United States have 3-7 tons of waste from construction.

This concept is like the inflatable electric car idea. Rethinking the process for how a major segment of our economy works to enable cost breakthroughs.

Inflatable cars and scaling up printer technology for making buildings are the kind of powerful ideas that could enable acceleration of economic growth even without successful development super technologies (like fusion, molecular nanotechnology or super artificial intelligence). It is similar to how Henry Ford's mass production methods accelerated economic growth at the beginning of 1900s. However, there is no reason we cannot re-invent the car and construction and develop super technologies. So even without molecular nanotechnology there
could be a step up in economic growth rate with ideas like this and inflatable electric cars. These ideas are also very compatible with a nanofactory world.

Youtube Contour Crafting videos

Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies at the University of Southern California

The goal of the Center for Rapid Automated Fabrication Technologies (CRAFT) is to develop the science and engineering needed for rapid automated fabrication of objects of various size up to mega-scale structures such as, boats, industrial objects, public art and whole building structures.

Selective Inhibition sintering (SIS) method is capable of making plastic as well as metallic parts without the use of laser.

Megascale fabrication article

True three dimensional display.

72 inch diagonal Holovizio720RC display

European Union funded Holografika is offering superior 3D displays that provide the full 3D information to the viewer. (Most other 3D displays provide partial information). The Holovizio product is not just using 2D images and visual tricks, it is providing a real 3d image.

- The pictures don't "jump" between the views, horizontal perspective
- Numbers of viewers are not limited.
- No discomfort, seasickness or disorientation
- Not necessary to stand in one point, free motion possible
- No delays or latency
- users do not need goggles

Holovizio 128 WLD a 32 inch diagonal display

The Coherent project researchers that developed this technology made exciting advances in enabling applications that show the system's real potential.

- raw data from medical imaging devices to create 3-D models of anatomy.
- CRS4 also developed rendering and visualisation software that may reveal the artistic secrets of the great masters, like Michelangelo. A scan of his famous David revealed that the eyes diverge.
- holographic systems for oil exploration and for designing cars

Link to a video demonstration of the holovizio technology

Breakthroughs with cheaper and better performing batteries

Hitachi Maxell Ltd (6810.T) gained 6.5 percent. A spokesman there confirmed a Nikkei evening edition report that it is aiming to commercialise a longer-lasting [perhaps 20 times longer], cheaper lithium-ion battery in the next three to four years that substitutes expensive cobalt with manganese.

Hybrid Technologies has new superlattice li-ion batteries that can power an electric car 200 miles on a single charge The battery can operate at a higher than normal voltage range of 4V to 2.3V.

- High Capacity 170 Ah/kg or more.
- Non-toxic and disposable.
- Less expensive.

An update on the adoption of electric bicycles and scooters in China

The smallest motors produced about 100 Watts (W) of power, but the majority of electric bicycles used motors in the 180-250W range. In Suzhou City, about fifty miles outside of Shanghai, electric bicycles and scooters outnumbered passenger automobiles by at least ten to one. Scooters had somewhat larger motors, but none of them produced more than one horsepower (746W). Compare that to American automobiles producing at least 100 horsepower, and you can begin to see why electric bicycles are such efficient vehicles compared to other alternatives. Many people rode small folding electric bicycles with 16” or 20” wheels for easy storage in small apartments.

Taiwan rode small two-stroke scooters. When I asked why this was so, people confirmed my suspicions that Chinese people do not, in general buy e-bikes and e-scooters due to any sense of environmental altruism. No… they buy electric because a gas scooter costs five times as much as an e-bike does.

There is an estimated 60 million e-bikes in China now. Probably 25-30 million will be added in 2008 and 2009.

The latest US statistics show a substantial drop in SUV sales and a shift to purchases of more fuel efficient cars

- For the first time since 1992, the vehicle most sold in the United States in May was not an SUV or light truck

- the two most popular cars were the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla, which helped Asian auto makers surpass the top three U.S. automakers in the U.S. market for the first time ever

- sales of SUVs and trucks having dipped below car sales in March and April, the May ratio of cars to trucks was 57:43

- U.S. auto sales fell 30 percent in May, and total 2008 sales may be below 15 million vehicles, compared to 17.4 in 2000

Gasoline usage and green house gas emissions could drop in half over the decade or so.

A survey of electric vehicle plans

Inflatable electric cars could be cheap, safe and have long range

Inflatable electric cars could have 2500 mile range using a single hot-swap XPack Multi-CoreTM Battery/Fuel Cell power plant. You would use the battery/fuel cell and then it would be changed out when you needed to "refuel/recharge". It will take until at least 2010 for the cars to be fully certified and placed into high volume production. Price targets are less than $10,000 and one model to compete with the Tata Nano, which costs $2500. This is a radical re-thinking of how to build a car that appears likely to radically lower costs, safety and fully enable electric cars with no core features (driving range, basic highway speed, cost, safety) that are inferior to current combustion cars.

The inflatable cars could be flat shipped like furniture from Ikea.

The key advantages over competitors are that these are the safest, longest range, lowest cost vehicles which can be flat-pack shipped directly to users.

XP Technology is an electric powered automobile technology startup with disruptive patent protected technologies utilizing safe non-grid-connected energy cassettes to produce the electricity to run a polymer airbeam, carbon fiber constructed ultra light and safer bodied automobiles priced at very low invoices with extremely high energy efficiency.

UPDATE: An update on the adoption of electric bicycles and scooters in China

Taiwanese people ride small two-stroke scooters (most were purchased before the availability of good electric bikes). China has 60 million electric bike riders now (out of 450-500 million unpowered bike riders). When asked why this was so, people confirmed suspicions that Chinese people do not, in general buy e-bikes and e-scooters due to any sense of environmental altruism. No… they buy electric because a gas scooter costs five times as much as an e-bike does.

So the low price of the safe, cheap, long distance inflatable electric car will be key to widespread adoption of electric cars. Providing a better value for the money will enable the painless transition to environmentally friendly transportation.

the products of the XP Vehicle company

Frequently asked questions on the XP vehicles

It should take two average adults, with a high school education, less than two hours to inflate and unpack the vehicle.

Fully Assembled option likely: fleet departments and regional retailers will be purchasing sets of the vehicles and will likely offer them local and assembled.

They are targeting all vehicles for sub $10K pricing targets with one vehicle targeted at a record breaking low price in the Southeast Asian market.

Power sources: Massed battery arrays, fuel cells and fuel cell/battery hybrid plants.

Can the polymer version blow away? They have a special ballast and aerodynamic design set of features which makes the car very stable.

Carbon nanotubes + epoxy + lunar dust = lunar concrete

To make a 2.4-metre mirror like Hubble's, Chen estimates the recipe would call for about 600 kilograms (1300 pounds) of Moon dust, 60 kg (130 pounds) of epoxy, 6 kg (13 pounds) of carbon nanotubes and less than a gram of aluminium.

So bring 66kg of material to make something about ten times as heavy. Besides making giant telescopes, the lunar concrete can be used to form other structures on the moon. A 50 meter telescope would still need many tons of material but ten times less than before. Telescopes could combine and image continents on earthlike worlds in other solar systems.

Peter Chen of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, US, has devised a simple method to create a concrete-like substance using a mixture of carbon nanotubes, epoxy and a crushed rock material that NASA uses as a stand-in for Moon dust.

Using the mixture, they built a 30-centimetre disc. Then they added more liquid epoxy to its surface and spun it, coating it with aluminium in a vacuum.

They believe the process could be scaled up to produce 20- to 50-metre-wide telescopes on the Moon. Universe Today discusses the possibilities:

With a stable platform, and no atmosphere to absorb or blur starlight, the monster scope could record the spectra of extra solar terrestrial planets and detect atmospheric biomarkers such as ozone and methane. Two or more such telescopes spanning the surface of the Moon can work together to take direct images of Earth-like planets around nearby stars and look for brightness variations that come from oceans and continents.

The team has yet to determine the type of devices that might be used to spin the mirrors, and the telescopes would need detectors, actuators, steel support structures and other components not made from Moon dust.

Carbon nanotube prices are falling because of new larger scale factories and new cheaper processes

Multi-wall carbon Nanotube production has had dramatic price decreases (Arkema, Bayer Material Sciences, Showa Denko), down to $150/kg for semi-industrial applications [Feb 2008]. The run for industrial CNT production plants has started in order to achieve a sustainable business with the commercialization of these high-tech materials with a mid-term price target of $45/kg.

This on-site composite material to build habitats for the astronauts, and mirrors to collect sunlight for solar-power.

Website of the American Astronomical Society who hosted the conference where this work was presented

Carnival of Space Week 57

2016 Next Big Predictions

This site predicts that 2016 will be year of significant milestones for technology and other world changes. A prediction on a relatively trivial topic. Tokyo will hold the 2016 summer olympics. Three other cities are still in the running. 2016 will likely be the end of the second presidential term for the president elected in 2008. Most presidents are two term presidents.

2016 is a likely year when China's growing economy and strengthening currency combine to enable it to pass the size of the US economy. This is a milestone for change that has been evolving for decades, but will have ripened by passing a key metric.


Prediction by 2016: Over 100 new Conventional nuclear reactors will add over 120GW of nuclear power. 1000 billion kwh added (Some power from uprates of existing reactors in France, USA and other places)

Prediction by 2016: 100 GW of solar power will be added, but that will generate less power than the additional conventional nuclear power because of lower capacity factor

Advanced thermoelectronics will be providing energy savings on car air conditioning and electronics by 2010 and providing more efficient co-generation for cars and trucks by 2014 Thermoelectrics will also provide more efficient full size refrigerators (currently used in beer coolers)

Prediction: Durable [able to operate at higher temperatures] ZT 10+ thermoelectronics will be able to capture 35% of the waste heat of nuclear, coal and natural gas reactors. This will be deployed to capture over 50GW of power by the end of 2016.
There will also be deployment on freight trucks to increase fuel efficiency by over 10%.

2012 first completion of a uranium hydride mass producible nuclear reactor

Prediction by 2016: 200+ of the 25 MW electricity and 70 MW thermal reactors deployed. Total 5GW electrical and 14GW thermal power. Primarily used for oilsand and oilshale oil recovery.

The 335MW IRIS (International Reactor Innovative & Secure) will likely be first deployed in 2015 The first IRIS unit will take three years to construct with a subsequent reduction to only two years.

By 2016: 30GW of geothermal power added worldwide

Prediction: Inertial confinement fusion will be shown to achieve greater than breakeven energy by 2013. Deployments will be limited in 2016 due to the need to refine the systems for commercialization. Tri-alpha energy, Focus fusion and the General Fusion approaches will have successful prototypes or will have become dead ends.

Prediction: Over 1.5 million bopd from the US portion of the Bakken oilfield by 2016.

Prediction: Over 2 million bopd will be added to production in the oilsands.

Prediction: Biofuels will be over 60 billion gallons per year in 2016 [more than the UN prediction. Triple instead of double current production] The 60 billion gallans is equal to 4.5 million bopd. Algae oil production, conversion of waste into oil and cellulose biofuels will produce more.

Blacklight power and cold fusion recently had claims which if true could have substantial impact by 2016.

Computers, cars and medicine
Prediction: 100 petaflop computer by the end of 2016

Prediction: Over 20 million hybrid and electric cars worldwide by 2016.
A few thousand will be 175 mpge race cars like the one here.

Prediction: 80% fewer deaths from cancer.
Biomarkers and imaging for cheap and successful and widely deployed cancer testing.
GIFT cancer treatment

Prediction: By 2016 higher than room temperature superconductors will have been developed

Prediction: by 2016, the first effective longevity treatments will have been introduced to calorie restriction mimicking drugs

Prediction: By 2016 Myostatin inhibitors will be used by over 5 million people

Previous review of predictions on the future

Technologies and developments to watch for 2008


Trading Futures
Nano Technology
Netbook     Technology News
Computer Software
Future Predictions

June 04, 2008

Propellantless propulsion experiment explodes, SpaceX falcon 9 does not

Lorentz actuated propulsion would require no propellant. However, recent experiments simulating orbit conditions resulted in explosions.

The team tested the ability of various objects to hold a charge in a vacuum while being bombarded with plasma, as would be the case in orbit. To generate the charge on the test object, they attached it to a sample of radioactive Americium-24, an alpha-particle emitter, and applied a voltage. The electric field carries away the positively charged alpha particles leaving the object highly charged. Microscopic arcing was observed at voltages as low as -300 V. This arcing caused solder to explode off of the object.

Experimental Study of a Lorentz Actuated Orbit, preprint paper

The arcing that occurs at low voltages is a serious problem but can essentially be eliminated if the wires and solder are well insulated. The object can easily be charged in plasma only if it is insulated in such a way that it is not in direct contact with the plasma. The only problem then is the net zero charge that is observed by the magnetic field. The plasma itself, created in the lab, is not exactly identical to that of outer space or the upper atmosphere. Even though the electron temperature closely relates to those regions, the electron density is four orders of magnitude higher and may cause different results than one would obtain in a lower electron density environment. Experimental research on a Lorentz Actuated Orbit is still ongoing with the hope that one day we will be able to establish an experimental basis for sizing a propellantless propulsion system.

SpaceX Conducts First Five Engine Firing of Falcon 9 Rocket

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) conducted the first five-engine firing of its Falcon 9 medium to heavy lift rocket at its Texas Test Facility outside McGregor on Thursday, May 29. At full power the engines generated almost half a million pounds of force, and consumed 1,750 lbs of fuel and liquid oxygen per second. This five engine test again sets the record as the most powerful test yet on the towering 235-foot tall test stand.

The first Falcon 9, contracted to launch a US government payload, will arrive at the SpaceX launch site at Cape Canaveral by the end of 2008, according to vice-president for propulsion Tom Mueller.

The maiden flight is expected late in the first quarter of 2009, some six months later than originally planned. The next flight of SpaceX's smaller Falcon 1 rocket is scheduled for late June or July of 2008.

Last month, SpaceX secured a NASA launch services contract that could be worth up to $1 billion and last from June 2010 to the end of 2012.

New iron based superconductors show need for new theoretical models

New iron based superconductors will require new models and theories for superconductivity.

Results clearly indicate a nodeless gap order parameter, which is nearly isotropic in size across different sections of the Fermi surface, and are not compatible with models involving antiferromagnetic fluctuations, strong correlations, the t-J model, and the like, originally designed for the high-Tc copper oxides.

A Johns Hopkins University research article, offers insights into why the characteristics of a new family of iron-based superconductors reveal the need for fresh theoretical models which could, they say, pave the way for the development of superconductors that can operate at room temperature.

It appears to us that the new iron-based superconductors disclose a new physics, contain new mysteries and may start us along an uncharted pathway to room temperature superconductivity. "If superconductors could exist at room temperatures, the world energy crisis would be solved," Tingyong Chen said. [Chia-Ling Chien was the lead author]

The new iron based superconductors also have interesting behavior around 137-155 degrees kelvin.

Material Research Science and Engineering Center at The Johns Hopkins University.

How would room temperature superconductors help solve the worlds energy problems ?

Room temperature superconductors would help reduce power losses to transmitting electricity, generating and storing electricity. Superconducting power generation and engines are more efficient. Engines could be made smaller. This would mean less power lost to moving engines that were many times heavier.

Currently 55% of the electricity generated in the USA is lost to distribution and generation inefficiency.

A room temperature superconducting engine would also be very efficient and several times lighter.

Energy losses in a car are big, but to more fully help with that you need to put the engine in the wheels.

Here is an illustration of power losses in current cars

Follow up on Bakken and 150mpg SUV hybrid car

McCain and Obama may both choose female Vice Presidential running mates

Many women are very upset over Hillary Clinton losing the Democratic presidential nomination. In order to attract those woman voters both McCain and Obama will probably choose female vice presidential running mates.

A good case is made for Sarah Louise Heath Palin, the governor of Alaska as McCain's running mate

Ann Althouse indicates the problem that Obama will have not giving Hillary the Vice President slot

Sarah Louise Heath Palin at wikipedia

June 03, 2008

Accelerating Technological change versus constant everyday life

Michael Anissimov introduces 22 (so far) questions to help detail larger views of future technology concepts like the technological singularity.

This website believes that technological change can be seen to be accelerating in many segments and by many metrics. However, there are important segments that are slower changing or constant. This is why day to day life has been is still similar to someone living in 1950 and not totally dissimilar to someone in 1920.

The chinese economy has the fast growing private part and the nearly constant government and slower growing rural parts. For the developed countries it is the slower changing infrastructure and relatively constant usage and functionality of certain major things - cars, houses/buildings, water and energy infrastructure. And the way entertainment media very rarely dies but shift aside when new media arrives. Radio does not kill newspapers but both co-exist. TV gets added and movie theatres keep going along with Broadway plays and live theatre. The Internet gets added. More channels and choices are created. It is easy to opt out of what is new and keep doing what one did before. For product and service adoption, people often want a new version of the familiar.

Because people can point to what economist Robin Hanson refers to as past Singularities (the shifts to higher growth in the Industrial Revolution) 1730 and 1900 in relatively recent history they can perceive that more relative change occurred crossing those boundaries. Also, many countries are still completing or have not started the shift from agriculture to industrialization.

The key changes that people determine as being shocking are where the transportation that they use every day is radically improved in speed and capability.

Walking ==> horse ==> bike / rail ==> car / plane ==? [spaceship]

If daily work lives are clearly transformed.
Hunter gathering ==> Farming ==> factory ==> white collar ==> _______.

In your face change is to the major daily processes of most people in a society and this requires a lot of accumulated technological change to accomplish and succeed.

Substantial human enhancement has the potential to be a daily in your face thing.

Something clearly moving from "science fiction" to the being possible is not sufficient. There has to be widespread adoption so that it is encountered everyday. How much change do you encounter every day ? Cloning is now possible and 12 years ago it was only science fiction, but you do meet cloned people and animals or products of such technology everyday ?

A lot more people living in new frontiers on or under the oceans or in space would be a substantial change to the everyday lives of those who make the move.

Extreme life extension would be a change to everyday lives but not until it mnay of the aged to be rejuvenated. Meeting people who were physically aged but are now physically young every day would be a change. Meeting someone who had lived far longer than previous generations takes a long time to happen (the people have to age). Meeting a lot of people over 200 would take the time to enable them to live that long plus the time it takes for them to become those ages.

Agile MEMS robots 100 times smaller than previous robotic designs

Duke university makes new MEMS (microelectromechanical system) based robots. Each microrobot is shaped something like a spatula but with dimensions measuring just microns, or millionths of a meter. They are almost 100 times smaller than any previous robotic designs of their kind and weigh even less. The devices are about 60 microns wide, 250 microns long and 10 microns high that each run off power scavenged from an electrified surface. Propelling themselves across such surfaces in an inchworm-like fashion impelled by a “scratch-drive” motion actuator, the microrobots advance in steps only 10 to 20 billionths of a meter each, but repeated as often as 20,000 times a second.

Two microrobots can be seen pirouetting to the music of a Strauss waltz on a dance floor just 1 millimeter across. In another sequence, the devices pivot in a precise fashion whenever their boom-like steering arms are drawn down to the surface by an electric charge. This response resembles the way dirt bikers turn by extending a boot heel.

New research summaries describe the group’s latest accomplishment: getting five of the devices to group-maneuver in cooperation under the same control system.

“Our work constitutes the first implementation of an untethered, multi-microrobotic system"

New Metamaterial a “Perfect” Absorber of Light

A team of scientists from Boston College and Duke University has developed a highly-engineered metamaterial capable of absorbing all of the
light that strikes it – to a scientific standard of perfection – they report in Physical Review Letters.

The team designed and engineered a metamaterial that uses tiny geometric surface
features to successfully capture the electric and magnetic properties of a microwave to the point of total absorption.

“Three things can happen to light when it hits a material,” says Boston College Physicist Willie J. Padilla. “It can be reflected, as in a mirror. It can be
transmitted, as with window glass. Or it can be absorbed and turned into heat. This metamaterial has been engineered to ensure that all light is neither reflected nor transmitted, but is turned completely into heat and absorbed. It shows we can design a metamaterial so that at a specific frequency it can absorb all of the photons that fall onto its surface.”

The Physics letters article is here

We present the design for an absorbing metamaterial (MM) with near unity absorbance A. Our structure consists of two MM resonators that couple separately to electric and magnetic fields so as to absorb all incident radiation within a single unit cell layer. We fabricate, characterize, and analyze a MM absorber with a slightly lower predicted A of 96%. Unlike conventional absorbers, our MM consists solely of metallic elements. The substrate can therefore be optimized for other parameters of interest. We experimentally demonstrate a peak A greater than 88% at 11.5 GHz.

Update on GIFT cancer treatment

Knowledge of Health provides a review of cancer treatment that is leading up to human clinical trial in the summer 2008 where cancer-killing granulocytes obtained from humans who exhibit high immunity against cancer will be injected into cancer patients. The review is selective and the author believes that vitamin D would also help with some cancer treatment.

This is an update to a prior report on the "GIFT" cancer treatment and cancer resistant mice.

Dr Cui took blood samples from 100 volunteers, and mixed just their granulocytes with cervical cancer cells in the laboratory. He found that one sample appeared to kill 97% of the cancer cells in just two days, while at the other end of the scale, after 48 hours, one sample had destroyed just 2% of the cancer cells.

[from wikipedia] Granulocytes are a category of white blood cells characterised by the presence of granules in their cytoplasm. They are also called polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMN or PML) because of the varying shapes of the nucleus, which is usually lobed into three segments. In common parlance, the term polymorphonuclear leukocyte often refers specifically to neutrophil granulocytes, the most abundant of the granulocytes.

Online search of Wake forest cancer clinical trials

Online search of all cancer related clinical trials in the United States

Zheng Cui, MD PhD webpage at Wake Forest University

The granulocyte therapy work is described at the Wake Forest pages.

Wake Forest Cancer center

Clinical trials at Wake Forest in general

June 02, 2008

Calorie Restriction mimicking Longevity drug could be available in 5 years

Sirtris' resveratrol formulation is now in Phase II clinical trials for diabetes. When it hits the market in four or five hears, David Sinclair [co-founder of Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, discovered the molecule resveratrol. Sirtis Pharmaceuticals was bought by GlaxoSmithKline for $720 million] said, "It'll be on the market as a diabetes drug. It'll have to sell for $3 or $4 a pill, in order to stay competitive." The company is also working with other molecules -- potential drugs -- that are unrelated to resveratrol but also stimulate the SIRT1 gene. Some of the molecules could be up to 1,000 times more potent than resveratrol, he added.

Assuming 2 pills per day, $2190-2920/year, $182-243/month.

He continued, "And once it goes off-patent [about 17 years from the time the patent is in force], companies will be able to make it for pennies. It'll be like aspirin."

Estimates of life extension from calorie restriction are 3 to 13 years.

Okinawans, the longest lived people on earth, consume 40% fewer calories than the Americans and live 4 years longer. Women in United States consume 25% fewer calories than men and live 5 years longer. From the survival studies of overweight and obese people it is estimated that long-term CR to prevent excessive weight gain could add only 3 to 13 years to life expectancy. Thus the effects of CR on human life extension are probably much smaller than those achieved by medical and public health interventions, which have extended life by about 30 years in developed countries in the 20th century, by greatly reducing deaths from infections, accidents and cardiovascular disease.

SRT501 given twice daily to Type 2 Diabetic patients, found that the patient group receiving 2.5 grams twice a day had significantly lower blood glucose levels as determined through an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) at the test's two-hour time point, as compared with the placebo group.

Sirtris has also identified new chemical entities (NCEs) that are chemically distinct from resveratrol, and in in-vitro tests are up to 1,000 times more potent. In preclinical models of Type 2 Diabetes, Sirtris' NCEs have lowered glucose and improved sensitivity.

A discussion of aging was a closing event of the first World Science Festival. Hat tip to instapundit and welcome to instapundit readers.

Sinclair says the best current anti-aging treatment is to exercise.

There is a promising cancer treatment going into clinical trials this summer.

Early cancer detection would also have a large impact

A recent University of Madison study suggests that lower doses of resveratrol can provide calorie restriction type benefits. Previous studies had shown life extending benefits only from very high doses of resveratrol.

Nanotero's carbon nanotube nram chips, finally

Nantero partnered with SVTC Technologies to offer the first eight-inch nanotube thin-film development foundry. SVTC uses Nantero's process to prototype commercial CMOS carbon nanotube designs for fabless chip houses.

Nantero has developed a “CMOS-friendly” proprietary CNT process that it will install at SVTC’s two state-of-the-art development fabs, in San Jose, Calif., and Austin, Texas. Together, Nantero and SVTC can offer CNT device development capabilities for customers targeting a wide range of applications including photovoltaics (solar cells), LEDs, sensors, MEMS and other semiconductor-based devices.

Nram is described at wikipedia

NRAM may be able to become much denser than DRAM. NRAM does not require power to "refresh" it, and will retain its memory even after the power is removed. Additionally the power needed to write to the device is much lower than a DRAM. NRAM can theoretically reach speeds similar to SRAM, which is faster than DRAM but much less dense, and thus much more expensive. NRAM is one of a variety of new memory systems, many of which claim to be "universal" in the same fashion as NRAM – replacing everything from Flash to DRAM to SRAM. Nantero has been claimed NRAM release dates since 2005

SVTC said its first customer is prototyping a carbon nanotube-based random-access memory (NRAM). Nantero claims NRAMs could be up to 20 times denser than current flash memories using 22-nm square bit cells compared to 100-nm cells for current 16-Gbit flash memories. 320-Gbit/chip densities for NRAM using current lithography.

Using next generation lithography, Nantero claims nanotube thin films could ultimately be capable of terabit-per-chip capacities by squeezing bit cells down to as small as 5-nm square. "Beyond NRAM, there are also applications in displays, touch screens, solar cells, sensors and MEMS devices," said Greg Schmergel, Nantero co-founder, president and CEO. "Our process puts carbon nanotube thin films on a variety of substrates in a manner that can be mass-produced in any CMOS foundry. You can make the films thinner and thicker, change their density, even make them trasparent for displays and touch screens," he claimed.

You are probably in a Singularity when

Vernor Vinge wrote about "Signs of the Singularity" However, some of the signs will be more obvious when they are actually occuring.

Robin Hanson talks about the economics of the Singularity where economic growth rates accelerate 60-250 times. This site has talked about Singularity Lite where the 2-3 times increase in economic growth rate from the early (1730) to late (1900s) part of the industrial revolution is repeated.

If the economic impacts of a Singularity are correct then a clear sign of a Singularity would be if world economic growth rates goes to current China levels of growth or higher. The difference between Singularity lite and a full blown Singularity would be if the majority of the world economy is more than doubling every year.

If 1996-2000 rates of change for the Internet industry speed hits and radically transforms education and healthcare, then you are probably in a Singularity.

If you have a device that guides you through the first day of your new job like Morpheus telling Neo which turns to make in the first Matrix movie then you are probably in a world undergoing a technological Singularity. If the device is providing those instructions via a direct brain-machine interface then you are definitely in a technological Singularity.

Note: Emotiv already is selling inexpensive brain computer interfaces for use with video games.

Emotiv graphic. The device on the woman's head is a real brain computer interface. The projected image is not an actual current interaction.

If over 90% of the businesses and industries this year did not exist last year then you are probably in a technological Singularity.

Vernor Vinge indicated :

The consequences of creating human-level artificial intelligence would be profound, but it would still be explainable to present-day humans like you and me. But what happens a year or two after that? The best answer to the question, “Will computers ever be as smart as humans?” is probably “Yes, but only briefly.”

If the world's energy and transportation infrastructure is being replaced multiple times per year with radically improved technology then you are deep into a technological Singularity or experiencing a hard takeoff.

If every quarter or week, you have to change out your mind machine interface device for one that is over ten times faster in order to "stay competitive" you are in a technological Singularity.

Add your less subtle signs of a Singularity in the comments.

Contact lens displays

Displays in glasses exist now.

Cheap brain wave sensors

Somewhat related: A robot performed brain surgery for the first time.

Microsoft captcha's broken. Captcha's are the letter graphics that are designed to be human but not machine readable. Advancing machine progress can be measured by the frequency with which the "test for humanness" must be changed.

Better Robots and AI are not the only ways your job could disappear in the future

by Christina Wong

When people talk about the Technological Singularity and advanced robots and artificial (general) intelligence, it seems a large part of the denial of that future is the idea that "a machine cannot do what I do" or "a machine cannot replace my job".

It does not necessarily take more "intelligence".

People have known about vending machines for decades.

But was it smarter computers and robots that enabled fully automated convenience stores in the US and Japan ?
The picture is not the japanese version but a Kroger automated convenience store in the USA.

There are more than 5.5 million vending machines operating in Japan--that's one for every 20 people--and last year they raked in a total of $56 billion in sales, according to the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association (JVMA). You deposit your coins and make your choice: dried squid or hair tonic, batteries or green tea, boxers or beer. Sanyo's Auto Shop Vendor isn't just bigger than the Coke-and-coffee machines of the past; advanced mechanical engineering allows it to handle what was until recently an unthinkable variety of necessities and impulse purchases. "This is four vending machines in one," exults Sanyo deputy general manager Misao Awane. "It holds 200 different products, at three different temperatures."

The question is not can a machine do exactly what I do the way I do it ?
The question: Is there a successful business model where what you do is no longer necessary ? The good news is that people will be freed up to be involved in new businesses that grow the economy.

There have been more mundane job displacement:
There is self checkout at Walmart, Home Depot and other stores
Self service gas stations
Ecommerce where shopping and business transactions are mostly removed from bricks and mortar
Wikipedia killing encyclopedia companies.
Collaboration systems eliminating repeating the same research work many times over.
Open source software eliminating jobs where the same work is repeated at many companies.

Automated teller machines or websites like Paypal can reduce the people involved in financial businesses. So can new investment products like Exchange Traded Funds

Going down the list of jobs and looking at how many people have different jobs which are the jobs that are safe from displacement ? Even if a class of jobs is not completely eliminated could demand be severely reduced ?

23.3 million jobs in the USA for office administration and support. (New business systems that require fewer people. Web 2.0 companies only need a handful of people or one person to do what took hundreds only a few years ago).
14.3 million jobs in the USA for sales and related work. (Automation and new sales processes)
11.3 million jobs in food preparation and serving. (Improved frozen meals)
10.1 million jobs in production. (Automation and process re-engineering)
9.6 million jobs in transportation and material moving. (more local production : high rise farming, rapid prototyping and manufacturing systems)
8.3 million jobs in education, training and library. (online learning, MIT recordings of the best professors.)
6.9 million healthcare practitioners and technical. (Biomarker tracking with cheap devices to catch and treat diseases early or in the developing stages. Keep people healthier and avoiding the need for more costly and people intensive intervention).
6.7 million jobs in construction and extraction (pre-fab buildings and panels).
6.0 million Management. Re-engineering to flatten organizations and take out layers of management. Web 2.0'ing a business. Reinvent it where a lot fewer people are needed.
5.4 million Installation, Maintenance, and Repair. Redesign things where the quality is better and it does not break or does not need service or is simple to install.

It is good to increase productivity because it is the process by which an economy becomes more wealthy.

Smart stores: re-inventing stores around RFID

Permanent nanoscale bubbles created

Engineers at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have whipped up, for the first time, permanent nanoscale bubbles---bubbles that endure for more than a year---from batches of foam made from a mixture of glucose syrup, sucrose stearate, and water. Future applications of these microbubbles could significantly extend the lifetimes of common gas-liquid products that experience rapid disintegration, such as aerated personal-care products and contrast agents for ultrasound imaging

Stone, Vicky Joseph Professor of Engineering and Applied Mathematics and associate dean for applied physical sciences and engineering, was in the audience when Bee projected an image of a micrometer-size bubble with a distinctive polygonal geometry. The bubble surface appeared to be faceted with regular pentagonal, hexagonal, and heptagonal domains that intersected to form a soccer ball-like structure. None of the faces spanned more than 50 nanometers.

"Small bubbles on that scale never last because of surface tension---they instantly disappear. What Rodney showed on that screen was extraordinary," said Stone. "It was impossible; we all thought it was impossible."

Smaller bubbles have a greater surface tension and a higher gas pressure than larger ones. As a result, larger bubbles usually grow at the expense of smaller ones, which have very short lifetimes.

The experimental study, conducted by SEAS graduate student Emilie Dressaire in collaboration with Unilever colleagues, revealed that when the bubbles were covered with the chosen surfactant mixture, the surfactant molecules crystallized to form nearly impermeable shells over the bubble surfaces.

June 01, 2008

IEEE Spectrum : The Singularity a Special Report

IEEE Spectrum has a special report on the Singularity with contributions from several authors.

Vernor Vinge first postulated the concept of a technological Singularity and he has an essay "Signs of the Singularity" and a video "How to Prepare for the Singularity"

Richard Jones has an article "Rupturing The Nanotech Rapture", but the essay criticizes specific invivo (in the body) versions of free roaming nanobots and diamondoid materials It seems that the stated position is not that nanorobots are impossible foreever but impossible by 2030 and unlikely before 2050 and more likely to have a nanobio basis if it is accomplished. Then some problems are raised with regards to nanorobots operating in human bodies.

This website has documented current nanodevices and larger devices that operate in the body. Making what exists now smaller and more capable would seem like a path to achieving goals such as cellular repair.

More complicated and functional nanoparticles or particles up to several microns in size or particles within bloodstream robots.

There are devices and robots that are or can be placed into the bloodstream now.

Nanodiamond has been made 100 times cheaper.

Nanodiamond's fluorescent properties could be used to track cells moving through the body. And, last year, researchers showed they could safely deliver chemotherapy drugs. Cheaper alternatives to nanodiamonds, such as fluorescent dyes or small chunks of semiconductor known as quantum dots, are in use already in use.

40 micron pyramids are also being used to deliver drugs into the body

Nested nanoparticles are able to bypass the body's defences.

New Scientist reports on 200 nanometer polymer spheres that can get placed into living cells. Nextbigfuture assumes that they could change the size to bigger to place larger amounts of material into cells. Human cells are about 20 microns across. Mitocondria are 1–10 micrometers across.

Cellular repair - does not have to be invivo.
There is a coated straw like device which has coatings that attach to stem cells or to cancer cells.
Blood and body fluids can be taken out of the body and nanofilters and modification of the blood and blood products can be performed. (Advanced dialysis)
There is outside magnets used to guide nanoparticles.
There is laser activated release of drugs and other agents.

There is also mostly non-bio nanoelectronics that are being developed and designed into nanorobotics. Work which is implemented would have more kinship with Drexler's work than the bio-approach. Clearly the bio details of the environment cannot be ignored and are not being ignored in the latest design work. (computer simulations.) Note: Freitas (author of nanomedicine) has been involved in these designs.

Other Essays in the Special Report
Waiting for the Rapture, By Glenn Zorpette

Why should a mere journalist question Kurzweil’s conclusion that some of us alive today will live indefinitely? Because we all know it’s wrong. We can sense it in the gaping, take-my-word-for-it extrapolations and the specious reasoning of those who subscribe to this form of the singularity argument.

This argument against the Singularity has no substance.

Ray Kurzweil and Neil Gershenfeld: Two Paths to the Singularity

I, Rodney Brooks, Am a Robot

A powerful artificial intelligence won't spring from a sudden technological "big bang"—it's already evolving symbiotically with us

The Consciousness Conundrum By John Horgan

The wetware that gives rise to consciousness is far too complex to be replicated in a computer anytime soon
[This website disagrees with these conclusions]

Economics Of The Singularity by Robin Hanson

This article is an update of previous Hanson work on long term economic growth.

Look at the data for world product over the past 7,000 years, estimated by Bradford DeLong, an economic historian at the University of California, Berkeley. The data here tell a somewhat different story. For most of that time, growth proceeded at a relatively steady exponential rate, with a doubling of output about every 900 years. But within the past few centuries, something dramatic happened: output began doubling faster and faster, approaching a new steady doubling time of about 15 years. That's about 60 times as fast as it had been in the previous seven millennia.

Mode Doubling Date Began Doubles Doubles
Grows Time (DT) To Dominate of DT of WP
---------- --------- ----------- ------ -------
Brain size 34M yrs 550M B.C. ? "~16"
Hunters 230K yrs 2000K B.C. 7.2 8.7
Farmers 860 yrs 4700 B.C. 8.1 7.5
?? 58 yrs 1730 3.9 3.2
Industry 15 yrs 1903 1.9 >6.3

This site agrees with the Hanson theories and has considered Singularity lite: one to two levels of faster technological change.

Continuing advances in robotics are a multiplier to human productivity. If robotic cars are able to convert commuting time into productive time for people that would be a one time 6-20% increase in productivity. There is a constant stream of successes in robotics and automation for handling some human tasks (vacuuming, dish washing, factory robots, etc...). Robotics needs to breakthrough more completely as able and seemless assistants to people. The artificial general intelligence (AGI) situation is when computers and AI can take over making faster innovations by themselves.

China achieved its high levels of growth (10-13%/year) because it was catching up with past technological and business progress. So if some technology were to enable faster discovery of improved technological or process innovation, then the effect would be like more advanced nations also being in "catchup or higher growth mode". China also had higher rates of investment.
The higher rates of investment could come from improving the efficiency of financial systems.

In terms of capital inputs, if there was drastically reduced energy costs combined with vastly increased supplies of energy and higher growth rates in energy supplies from say a breakthrough in nuclear fusion that change could also provide a sustainable increase in economic growth rate.

High performance printable electronics and faster and cheaper reel to reel production could increase growth rates and capital production.

Reconfigurable phase change chips could allow for in place hardware to be improved on the fly as easily as a software update.

Improved technology that enables 12-20% (3 to 5 times the current rate) growth rates for cities and some countries seems possible. Various factors limit the growth rate that we currently experience. How government/business systems are organized limit the overall growth rate. Regulations and bureaucracy slow the speed of change. India was a major example of this where regulations and bureaucracy kept the economic growth of India to one third of what it is now and where it could have been for decades.

It seems likely that the technologies and systems to enable rapid growth will arrive but that only some people, companies and regions will take full advantage of them for quite a while. Only after others see how things should be run and the disadvantage they have with slower growth will changes be made.

A table of 16 leading people famous for their ideas that relate to the Singularity

Silicon biosensors are being implanted into the body with a gel to prevent rejection and precursor versions of nanomedicine capabilities are being enabled.

There are many different approaches to using nanoparticles and micro-sized particles and objects to deliver drugs, imaging agents and other medical functions

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