The Journey-2014





Photo credit: aranarth (Creative Commons)

What’s New?

Stop outgoing e-mail even after you’ve hit “send”.

How many times have you wished you could recall an e-mail message that you just sent?  Well, now you can!

GMAIL now allows you to delay sending an outgoing message for 5 seconds so that you can add, change or delete anything (including the entire message) even after you hit “send”.

To set up this feature, click on the “Settings” link and then the “Labs” option.  Click on “Undo Send” to enable it.  Then, whenever you send an email, you can still stop it from going out by clicking on the “Cancel” option … if you do it in time.

Increase your Internet Privacy and minimize peeping toms from tracking you.

By now, everyone is familiar with how the US Government is tracking, watching and recording everything that we do on the Internet!  We apparently have no privacy rights, and so what about the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution?   Then there are the scam artists, free-lance spies, data pirates, identity thieves and rogue actors who want to capture your every movement, thought and activity.

What to do?

The  Press Freedom Foundation has published a “How To” manual for working journalists who want to protect their work from ever-present spies.  The tips and techniques will work for everyone.  To download your own copy as a PDF,  go to https://pressfreedomfoundation.org/sites/default/files/encryption_works.pdf.

Curvy Television coming to your home.

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show held last week in Las Vegas, curved TV screens made from new OLED (organic LED) panels were all the rage.  Expensive just now; look to see them collapse in price over the next several years.  When combined with the new ultra-high-def display format, viewers report eye-popping 3D-like experience!  Sizes up to 60″ and MUCH bigger are available.  Who makes them? Samsung, LG, Panasonic – all the usual suspects.  Expect to see them in the stores later this year.  For lots more on What’s New at CES 2014, go to http://ces.cnet.com.  Now what to watch, that’s a different problem.

The Journey:

“Technology does not improve the quality of life – it improves the quality of things.  It’s how we use these things that can bring good or evil into the world”, to paraphrase the originator of “Cybernetics”, MIT professor Norbert Weiner.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norbert_Wiener.

We live in a world of electronic gadgets that are rapidly beginning to meld with our brains.

For thousands of years, mankind has built mechanical tools to extend our brawn.  It has only been a few decades since we have been constructing electronic tools to extend our brain.  The computer, the Internet, and the smart phone all contribute to making us more clever.

But do they make us smarter?  We no longer are taught to do long division in school.   We are now taught how to push the buttons in the right order to get the answer from a pocket calculator.  Wikipedia and a million other sites deliver the information of the ages instantly to our fingertips.  Google Earth lets us visit foreign and exotic places from our easy chair.  We no longer have to physically go ourselves.  But still we do.

So, is our knowledge becoming very broad indeed, but only a few inches deep?  Or is this continuing merger of the human-robotic-cyborg interface our destiny?  And is it good, or bad – or just different?  Time will tell.

The Journey has begun and we are swept up in its path, living in a nano-second real-time mode.  And unless we suffer a direct hit sun-burst plasma “kill shot” which wipes out the electrical genie worldwide – and most of us in the process -  this dance will become faster and faster as we break through 2050 and approach the year 2100.

The goal of this column is to bring to you all the exciting new “stuff” which we will quickly integrate into our lives.  And then to reflect a bit on how it is changing all of us and just what is happening to the human society, the human race, and the planet we live on.  It should be an interesting ride!

My Take:

Technology is, of course, neutral.  It is amoral.  Electricity can bring light to banish the night in a poor African village.  It can also be used to torture an “enemy of the state”.  Nuclear energy, computer technology, the jet engine.  All inventions have these dual uses.

If we are to survive, perhaps the renewal of the spiritual, the human “soul” is needed to recapture our imagination and our hope for a better world.  Fortunately, the world of science is now beginning to objectively investigate the “paranormal”, the metaphysical aspect of the human “mind”.  Will a merger ever be possible?

John Walker, the famed inventor of the computer-aided design AutoCAD software, now lives in Geneva, where his Fourmilab research institute investigates, among other things, the mind-consciousness puzzle.  For some truly mind-boggling experiments along this line, visit http://www.fourmilab.ch/nav/topics/consciousness.html.  You can do them on your own computer.  Make the clock hand spin by just thinking about it…

Then there are the near-death experiences and well-documented past lives cases investigated by reputable physicists and psychiatrists.  And what about the Discovery Institute and its advocacy of Intelligent Design?

What are we to make of all this?  Tom-foolery or serious research?  Is the homo sapiens brain merely a “meat machine” as atheist and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett emphatically says? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Dennett).

Or are we each point-source minds (or “souls”, if you will) tapping into the greater morphic-resonance Mind that biochemist Rupert Sheldrake has been studying for decades? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Sheldrake).  See his best-seller: Seven Experiments That Could Change the World.

Time will tell.

Each week we will explore the possibilities together.  To be continued.

Photo credit: aranarth (Creative Commons)