Robots resembling humans are no longer purely science fiction, though we are far away from true stand in replacements of ourselves. Nevertheless, it reasonable to assume that over the course of this century they become a greater part of daily life. One important point we need to address is the energy supply for our lookalikes. Continue reading →
In Japan, where space is scarce, one need to be very efficient with the little space you can afford. So we should not be really surprised that the Japanese came up with a capsule hotels. Instead of sleeping in a room, guest will have to spend the night in a small pod.
The good news: science shows that wormholes can exist; the bad news, however, they are unusable to travel through interstellar space. Apparently travel through a wormhole would be much slower, then travel outside it.
This is a real dumper on those who hoped to cross the galaxy in relatively short time – as wormholes used to be the most promising method of effective “faster-than-light” travel… But perhaps we should not give up as science might still find another way to use wormholes as a potential interstellar road network.
Animal uplifting, the use of scientific methods and genetic engineering in particular to increase to (cognitive) abilities of non-human animals, is coming a step closer to reality. Chinese scientists have added human genes associated with intelligence in monkeys.
Though the effectiveness of this method has yet to be established, it raises the question on whether animal uplifting is something we should want. Save from the obvious question if we have the right to do so, we need to answer a series of questions:
- should we uplift all animals?
- If not, which animals should we uplift and which not?
- How can we make such a distinction?
- What role should uplifted animals play in society? Should they be partners or slaves?
I could easily increase this list with many more questions. I won’t answer this question right now, but these might be a serious plot element of some of my mundane science fiction stories, which feature animal uplifting.
More generally, I believe that authors of (mundane) SF should use fiction as a tool to explore the ethical and social consequences of the trends in scientific and technological progress. Reflection is, as far as I am concerned, one of the primary functions of literature. Writers should stimulate discussion on important issues.
Though this an old post by me, I think it still relevant.
On march 11, 2011, Japan was hit by an earth quake and a tsunami which resulted in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Consequently the public opinion in Japan turned 180 degrees against nuclear power. Even their government began to consider a nuclear free future. But Japan is so heavily dependent on nuclear power, that last summer two nuclear power plants had to be restarted in the face of massive public opposition. The question of this post is what are the alternatives for Japan? I will discuss solar power, wind power and Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC). [However, both wind power and OTEC are in fact indirect forms of solar energy since both winds and the oceans are powered by the Sun.]
Wind and Solar power
These are the “classical” kinds of alternative energy sources. Both options require a lot of space, and the intensity of solar radiation…
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Oceans cover two-thirds of the surface area of our blue planet. So it is not really surprising that people are looking to the seas to solve the problems caused by a growing world population. Continue reading →
With increasing fuel costs as a result of the depletion of cheap oil and the abundance of helium as by-product of fusion power, I can easily imagine that airships will make a comeback in the second half of this century. At least Lockheed Martin has some serious designs of the next generation of airships.
Reason is, and only ought to be the slave of the passions – David Hume.
Though one can disagree with Hume’s position on reason and passion (desire), this quote does, however, describe how I perceive characters in my work.
In my stories I seek to build the plot around characters who have rational plans to achieve their personal aims, which are based on their passions or desires. Clashes between characters, however, arise from the fact that different persons have conflicting passions.
And to lesser extent tension is also caused by the fact characters have only incomplete or even false information, causing them to make mistakes in the pursuit of their ends. False information, of course, might be supplied by those with different aims in order to manipulate the actions of other people.
On a deeper level, a single character might even have conflicting passions, causing internal conflict. For instance, an abolitionist may be in love with a slave owner despite her desire to abolish slavery. Or a person has to choose between two or more ends, because they cannot be achieved together.
As a related issue I like to explore how society and technological progress affects how we choose our aims. What I mean certain developments might make our aims obsolete or creates entirely new desires. And social expectations might drive human and other sentient beings to act differently than how they would act without such pressure.
Finally, over the course a characters life he or she might change his or her passions, desires and aims as the result of increased knowledge and life experience.
Recently news broke that IBM has bought Red Hat for the enormous sum of 34 billion USD. For starters, Red Hat is the company behind Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a Linux distribution aimed, as the name suggests, for use it the enterprise environment.
However, Red Hat is not the only FOSS company to have been acquired recently and the article above in the link notes that the only major independent commercial vendor of Linux is Canonical, the developer of Ubuntu. The article’s author suggests that this business might be acquired by Microsoft. Continue reading →