Tag Archives: future

If I could change the world… the Creche system

I was procrastinating today and stumbled upon a snippet of pie-in-the-sky I’d written back in 1998. In it, I was trying to work out how parenting could be ‘improved’ in the future:

The Creche System [child care of the future]

The creche system would provide living arrangements for guardian parents and their children in same sex communal living complexes where the guardians share both the nurturing, the domestic chores and often the professional jobs which they have in common. This would leave all guardians with at least some free time – via rostered “days off”  –  to maintain identities which are distinct from their roles as nurturers.

The creche system is based on three fundamental assumptions:

  1. that [usually] only one biological parent is suited to the type of nurturing required to raise happy, healthy and well adjusted children,
  2. that the guardian parent, in order to remain effective, requires a support network of similar guardians who are best suited to share the load and provide both physical and emotional support to each other,
  3. that the guardian parent, in order to stay sane and feel fulfilled requires adult relationships outside of the nurturing environment where they can experience those aspects of life which are not child related – e.g. sex, work, hobbies, studies etc.

The majority of creches would cater  for guardian mothers and children.

Some creches would be ‘father’ based for those men who have chosen to be the guardians for their children – whether from necessity i.e. the mother is dead, incapacitated or disinterested or because they have rejected the male stereotype and, like most mothers, are good at, and enjoy, the nurturing of children.

A guardian would be able to contribute to a Creche in a number of ways:

  • by trading goods and services/special skills etc.
  • by sharing the domestic chores of communal living 
  • by paying outsiders to do their share of chores etc.

The Creche would be a combination nursery/parents club/sanctuary.

Some Creches would be family based i.e. like old extended families but either all female or all male.

Some Creches would be ‘public’ i.e. any parent can gain a place either temporarily or permanently.

Some creches would be ‘skill’ based where a number of parents engaged in the same expert profession would band together and share both the nursery and the job. Skill based creches would usually be small, highly organized and employ outside help for the bulk of the domestic chores.

In fact the number and type of creches would be almost unlimited.

The only common rule amongst all creches would be that sex must occur outside the creche. This is to avoid a guardian feeling pressurized into having sex when she/he doesn’t feel like it.

The philosophy behind this rule is that sex is not just a physical release but also a complete physical and emotional experience. Sexual partners should always feel that the sex is special – something that both partners look forward to, work for and enjoy. i.e. sex should remain as interesting and exciting after children as it was before.

Most importantly, sex should never become a routine on a par with shaving or brushing your teeth. The only way to accomplish this would be to separate sex from everyday life, making it an ‘event’ rather than a habit.

In same sex creches, all parties would gain certain benefits.

Children

As nuclear families usually contain only one or at the most two children, a creche would provide the children with many other children – of varying ages, personalities etc – to socialize with. The children would also gain a sense of security from close contact with the guardian [mother/father] as well as a whole host of ‘aunts/uncles’.

guardians       

The guardian – i.e. the parent doing the nurturing – would be able to enjoy the bond with their children without the sense of physical, mental and emotional isolation that often occurs in the nuclear family.

They would have an instant support network :

  • to share the load of nurturing and domesticity,
  • to provide much needed time out and personal space.

For those in skill based creches, the creche would also provide the opportunity to continue their chosen profession AND enjoy watching their children grow.

And finally, a word about biologicals. Biologicals are mothers and fathers who do not perform the role of nurturer for their children. For them, the Creche system would allow them to pursue their own goals and aspirations without being made to feel guilty or selfish.

Biologicals would be able to interact with their children and/or partners for  short periods of time without having to cope – usually inadequately – with the demands of everyday family and domestic life.

The degree of interaction between biological parents and their families would not be determined by social expectations but rather by mutual liking and affection.

Apart from tidying up the format, and the text to make it ‘flow’, I’ve left these ideas uncensored because…I still think some of them have value.

Would the Creche system work?

In hindsight, I can see how getting along with many other adults might also be harder than getting along with just one other adult, especially if you’re not particularly sociable. And yet…I remember being awfully lonely for much of the time while the Offspring was growing up.

Were you lonely as a parent? Did you miss your friends, job, social interactions outside of parenting? If you had your ‘druthers’, would you change how families work, and if so, how?

There ya go, something to think about during the weekend. 😀

Meeks


The car of the future

My thanks to SV3DPRINTER for posting about this amazing 3D printed innovation!

I’ve had a love affair with 3D printing since I watched a video of the first, primitive 3D printer create a toy, layer by tiny layer. Designing, prototyping and manufacturing cars using 3D printing is an order of magnitude more complicated than anything we could have imagined back then, but the technology is almost here. It’s almost a reality.

But what will happen once this technology becomes commonplace? Once it becomes as mainstream as the microwave oven? These are the kinds of questions that trigger wild flights of fancy in this thick noggin of mine.

I suspect that sometime soon, 3D printing will invade the home, becoming the must-have tool for everything. Or perhaps there will be a number of specialised 3D printers – one for food, one for clothing, and yes, one for personal transport. 🙂

In tandem with the spread of 3D printing, I can see shops becoming obsolete; retail is already dying thanks to e-commerce. The bricks and mortar shops that remain will be antiquated curiosities selling hand-made articles that people buy for their uniqueness, not necessarily because they’re ‘better’ than what they can buy at home. And yes, real shopping will occur at home. We’ll browse for ‘patterns’ and download them straight to our in-home 3D printers [which will be called something else by then]. Those printers will then print off a copy of the object for us to use.

Given how e-books and e-music already works, we won’t own these 3D patterns; we’ll merely lease them for a limited time, or a limited number of reproductions. Once the limit is reached, the pattern will disappear.

The only thing I can’t work out is how the poor will buy ‘stuff’. If they can’t afford the printers and/or the patterns, will they be forced to buy second hand items printed off by the rich?

If this future is as wasteful as the present, the second hand business could really boom. Or perhaps the darknet of 2020 will become a digital black market selling stolen 3D patterns, amongst everything else…

Not sure I want to live in this future I’m imagining, but I’d definitely love to visit. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


Cities without streets?

This is the jigsaw puzzle I completed this morning – just to see what the image was actually about:

Isn’t it amazing? A straight, boring street completely re-purposed to provide a beautiful green space for both residents and casual visitors to enjoy.

I know nothing about that street, other than the title of the jigsaw puzzle: ‘Lombard street’. If anyone knows where it is, please share in comments!

Anyway, the Lombard Street puzzle got me thinking about another place that I did know about: Havana. It’s become the urban agriculture capital of the world, with citizens and government working together to create food gardens on every available urban space. There are chickens and rabbits being ‘grown’ on roof tops, vegie plots on balconies, larger communal gardens in the middle of parks, and street markets selling the locally grown produce back to this city of two million.

The birth of Havana’s urban agriculture was painful to say the least, and driven by need. You can read the history in this great article:

https://www.dwell.com/article/havana-world-capital-of-urban-farming-659b65ad

The point though, is that it began as a grass roots movement with ordinary, hungry people taking food production into their own hands because they had to. The food they grew was organic because Cuba couldn’t afford herbicides and pesticides. The food Havana grows is still organic or semi-organic because the Cuban government recognized the value of what was happening and formalised it. Commercial pesticides are not allowed within the city limits. And the weird thing is that those organic, urban gardens really do supplement the diets of Havana’s residents.

Getting back to the jigsaw puzzle that triggered this post, I started wondering how much real estate our cities devote to roads. What if those roads could be re-purposed for parks and open spaces and communal gardens? What if we had alpacas wandering down Swanston Street, mowing the grass? [I chose alpacas coz they poop in the same spots all the time, making clean up a lot easier].

Seriously, we could go from this:

Image copyright Anthony Frey Photos – click photo to visit site

to this:

Original image by Anthony Frey Photos. Alpacas by acflory

Now I know that roads are like the veins and arteries of a city, but do they have to be so wasteful? Surely we have the technology to put them underground? Maybe not all of them, but the freeways could definitely go…

I’m sure that anyone with real engineering experience will shoot this idea down in flames, but still…it appeals to me. At some point we really will have to rethink the design of our cities. Maybe then we’ll find a way to stop wasting all that space on roads. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


At last…a ‘real’ hologram, except it’s not a hologram!

If you remember how Princess Leia appeared as a ‘hologram’ in the original Star Wars movie, you’ll find this new technology incredibly exciting. Why? Because for the very first time, we have the ability to project an image into space…in real 3D:

I cannot stress the importance of this technology enough. VR is exciting and impressive, but AR – Augmented Reality – will become a part of our lives much, much faster. Why? Because the uses are almost unlimited. Imagine walking down the street and having a full-colour, 3D advertisement step out from the wall and ‘talk’ just to you.

Okay, adverts you can’t escape are probably a terrible example, but what about crafts? Instead of looking up a youtube video clip, you could snap your fingers and have a 3D presentation appear in your workshop, loungeroom, kitchen, whatever. You could look at that presentation from the back, front, side, top or even from the bottom for those tiny details that aren’t normally visible in 2D.

Well, this new volumetric display technology could well be the innovation that allows us to do all that and so much more.

-mumble- Those scientists might want to change the name though. VD just does not have the right ring to it. 😦

cheers

Meeks


UBI – Universal Basic Income

The difference between a social welfare handout and a universal basic income is that the former is seen as a handout to the hopeless while the latter is an acknowledgement that the jobs provided by the industrial revolution are fast disappearing. And they’re not coming back.

https://futurism.com/new-report-claims-ubi-would-grow-the-u-s-economy-by-2-5-trillion/

The interesting thing about this article from Futurism is that it suggests a UBI might actually be good for the economy itself, not just for the people displaced by technology.

As a recipient of social welfare myself, I believe that the jobs of the future will be small scale and entrepreneurial. People will provide services to each other based on a local need. In a way, this is exactly what companies like AirBnB and Uber are already doing. In twenty years time though, social media may allow me to request a homemade cake for my birthday and have it baked and delivered by my neighbour down the road.

Such micro-transations could add up to trillions of dollars if everyone did it. But everyone can’t do it [now] because of two things:

  • lots of red tape associated with being a small trader,
  • and a social welfare system that is punitive rather than supportive

I can’t see a UBI being introduced any time soon because the political mindset is simply not there. Politicians have to stop thinking of their citizens as a drain on the government purse before any true change can occur. But at least the idea is gaining ground, if slowly.

cheers

Meeks


Neural lace – Innerscape comes one step closer!

Apologies but I’m high fiving myself like an idiot because of an article I just read in futurism.com:

https://futurism.com/within-the-next-decade-you-could-be-living-in-a-post-smartphone-world/

The whole article is interesting as it attempts to predict the near, medium and long term future of communications technology, but it was this paragraph that made me so happy:

This week, we got our first look at Neuralink, a new company cofounded by Musk with a goal of building computers into our brains by way of “neural lace,” a very early-stage technology that lays on your brain and bridges it to a computer. It’s the next step beyond even that blending of the digital and physical worlds, as human and machine become one.

The only thing I’m sceptical about is the time-frame. Tech that you carry and tech that you ‘wear’ is one thing, but tech that invades your brain is something else entirely. I’m sure there will be some maverick individuals who will ignore the risk and give the neural lace a try, but most of us will not jump in quite so quickly. Think desktop computers and the general public. The vast majority of people who use smartphones now either never learned to use computers properly or never felt comfortable with them – i.e. the gain did not negate the pain.

I think the concept of an in-built, brain-machine interface will be around for quite a while before some tech comes along that will make the interface, safe, painless and most of all, easy.

To me, easy is the operative word because, as a species, we always look for the line of least resistance. I just hope I’m still around when it happens as the next few decades are going to be very interesting indeed. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


-blush- ‘teledildonics’…

You should consider this a tech post with an R rating. You’ve been warned.

haptic-glove-2

http://fab.cba.mit.edu/classes/863.11/people/daniel.rosenberg/pf.html

Right. This really is a case of sci-fi made obsolete by reality. The image you’re looking at shows a pair of ‘haptic’ gloves at work. They allow the wearer to manipulate elements of a digital environment directly – i.e. no need for a mouse or keyboard or game controller. Essentially, sensors in the glove translate real world movement and pressure into digital movement and pressure.

I knew about these haptic gloves because I’m a gamer, and I like to think about new technologies that make gaming more fun. Not surprisingly then, my sci-fi story, Innerscape, contains many existing technologies, extrapolated into their possible future equivalents. One example is the evolution of the haptic glove into the full body gaming suit. But even modern day technology can be used in all sorts of ways. Most people see web cams and Skype as a useful tool for teleconferencing, or to allow friends to see each other and talk in real time. To the porn industry, however, the same technology is a great way to deliver a lucrative product.

Online porn is not something I know a great deal about, but it’s not something I can ignore, either. I do a lot of research online, and anything of a sexual nature can be bring up unexpected results – e.g., when I researched hermaphrodites for Vokhtah. I quickly learned to phrase my queries with great care, and that awareness informed my prediction that the porn industry would spear-head the development of immersive reality in Innerscape. Yes, I know, pun intended…

Despite this rather pragmatic view of the world, however, I had no idea that a real world company was already selling a primitive version of the immersive porn of my imagined future. What’s even worse, I had no idea that this real world company bears the same name [more or less] as a company I dreamed up for Innerscape.

[SPOILER: Leon lets the Woman in Red into his apartment when he sees that she’s delivering his brand new, top of the range, Real Touch gaming suit.]

The real world company already making haptic devices for the porn industry is called Realtouch Interactive.

I swear I am not making this up. I didn’t know about Realtouch Interactive until just now when I read about the latest developments in ‘haptic gloves’ on New Atlas. Imagine my surprise when the same article included a link to…’teledildonics’.

The link to that article is here:

http://newatlas.com/flex-n-feel-glove-long-distance-relationships/47900/?utm_source=Gizmag+Subscribers&utm_campaign=f1f477b260-UA-2235360-4&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_65b67362bd-f1f477b260-92416841

You can find the link to ‘teledildonics’ yourselves. If you so wish. -cough-

Be warned though, in the article, a male writer test drives the ‘device’, and although the descriptions are not super graphic, they don’t leave too much to the imagination. Included in the article is information about how the company created its own tech in order to sync sight, sound and data. Just as I predicted!

I suppose this is the point at which I should explain why data has to be synced along with sight and sound. The haptic ‘device’ is hooked up to the computer via USB at the user’s end. At the ‘cam girl’ end, a slightly different device allows the professional lady to control the sensations sent to the user’s device. Thus, audio, video and the transfer of this haptic data has to occur at the same time or the effect is ruined.

Long term, however, this very same technology will drive something else I wrote about in Innerscape – teleoperations. This is where the surgeon and the patient are separated by long distances, but the surgeon can still operate via a robotic surgical tool.

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling kind of shell-shocked. None of this technology was meant to happen for decades, yet here it is in 2017. Clearly, the tech will be enhanced and improved enormously in the coming years, but I still feel rather ambivalent about the whole thing. Yes, it’s nice to predict the tech of the future, but it’s not so nice to get the timing so very wrong. Oh well…back to work.

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 


A smelly but good news tech post

Apologies if this puts anyone off, but I’m really excited by this innovative way of dealing with sewage. Not only does it make something useful out of a big, smelly problem, it does so in a ‘relatively’ small space. [Conventional sewage works take up acres and acres and acres of land that could be used for other things].

To read how this innovative approach actually works, please read the article on New Atlas:

http://newatlas.com/mimic-nature-sewage-oil/46260/?li_source=LI&li_medium=default-widget

As a sci-fi writer I’m interested in all kinds of futuristic world building and one of my earliest ideas was for an ‘undercity’ built to replace much of Melbourne, post sea level rises that drown the lower reaches. Obviously, the new undercity would have to be built on much higher ground to avoid being drowned as well, but it would have lots of big advantages – temperature would remain more or less constant, bushfires would no longer be a danger and the land above the city could be used for productive agriculture. [At the moment, all Australian cities spread outward and our suburbs are built on land that would be better used for the growing of food].

One major problem with this undercity, however, was the issue of waste. I imagined food waste being ‘eaten’ by the SL’ick [synthetic life chickens that look like huge worms made of chicken breast meat], but I simply could not come up with an innovative way of dealing with the body wastes we humans produce. Until now. One small step for my world of the future, one large step for waste management. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


#3D printing on a LARGE scale

I wouldn’t be much of a sci-fi writer if I didn’t keep up with technology, so I’ve had a love affair with 3D printing since I first heard about it, but the technology is changing so fast, I’m constantly being surprise. This is my surprise for the day:

Those are actual, standard sized structures, printed by huge machines. But, as if that were not surprise enough, the material used to build them is made out of a combination of industrial waste and cement, so it’s recycling on top of everything else.

Colour me gobsmacked.

The video below is an animation of how the process is supposed to work:

The video goes for almost five minutes, but the music is pretty and I couldn’t stop watching. I work with words, ideas and computers, so I’m fascinated by this technology, but I can’t help wondering about those whose jobs will be made obsolete by 3D printing. What of them?

If I had a crystal ball, I’d say that some of the manual workers of the world will become artisan crafts people – I think there will always be a demand for crafts – but only a small percent of builders and brickies labourers will be able to make that transition. What of the rest?

I think our whole way of thinking about work is going to have to change. Any thoughts?

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 


#Solar powered micro-grid + #Tesla batteries = the future?

Just found this amazing article on New Atlas. It concerns a small island being powered almost exclusively by a micro-grid made up of solar panels and Tesla batteries. The batteries can be fully charged in 7 hours and can keep the grid running for 3 days without any sun at all:

Why do I find this so exciting? Distributed systems, that’s why.

“And what’s that?” you ask, eyes glazing over as you speak.

In computing, which is where I first heard the term, a distributed systems is:

a model in which components located on networked computers communicate and coordinate their actions by passing messages.[1] The components interact with each other in order to achieve a common goal.

Distributed computing also refers to the use of distributed systems to solve computational problems. In distributed computing, a problem is divided into many tasks, each of which is solved by one or more computers,[3] which communicate with each other by message passing.[4]

[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distributed_computing#Introduction]

Okay, okay. Here are some nice, juicy examples instead:

  • the internet,
  • your mobile phone network
  • MMOs [massively multiple player online games] like the one I play,
  • virtual reality communities, and even
  • the search for extra terrestrial intelligence [SETI].

There are heaps more examples I could name, but the point is that all these systems rely on the fact that the power of the group is greater than the power of its individual components. In fact, the world wide web could not exist at all if it had to be run from just one, ginormous computer installation.

So distributed systems can be insanely powerful, but when it comes to powering our cities, we seem to be stuck on the old, top-down model in which one, centralised system provides energy to every component in the system – i.e. to you and me and all our appliances.

Opponents of renewables always cite baseload as the main reason why renewables won’t work in highly developed countries. What they don’t tell you is that to create baseload, they have to create electricity all the time. That means burning fossil fuels all the time and creating pollution all the time.

Centralised power generation also does something else – it concentrates the means for producing this energy in one place, so if there is a malfunction, the whole grid goes down. But that’s not all. If all power is produced in one place, it’s all too easy to strike at that one place to destroy the ‘heart’ of the whole system. It can happen. If you read the whole article on New Atlas, you’ll learn that the supply of diesel to the island was once cut, for months. When the diesel ran out, so did the electricity. Now imagine an act of sabotage that destroys the power supply to a city of millions. It hasn’t happened yet, but I think it’s just a matter of time.

By contrast, distributed processing means that you would have to destroy virtually every component of the system to shut it down completely. A good example of this is our road system. In most areas, if one part of the road is closed for whatever reason, we can still get where we want to go by taking a detour. It may take us a little bit longer, but we get there in the end. Something very similar happens with the internet. Digital information is sent in ‘packets’ which attempt to find the quickest route from point A to point X, usually via point B. However if point B goes down, the packets have multiple alternate routes to get to X. Why should power generation be any less efficient?

In the past, electricity could not be stored, so it had to be generated by big, expensive power plants. That volume of electricity still can’t be stored, but in the future, it may not have to be. I foresee a time when neighbourhoods will become micro-grids, with each house/building contributing to the power needs of the whole neighbourhood. Surplus power generation will be stored in some form of battery system [it doesn’t have to be Tesla batteries, but they obviously work well in distributed systems] to provide power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. More importantly, the type of micro-grid used could be flexible. Communities living inland with almost constant sunshine would obviously use solar, but seaside communities might use wave power, others might use hydro or geothermal.

But what of industry?

I may be a little optimistic here, but I think that distributed power generation could work for industry as well. Not only could manufacturing plants provide at least some of their own power, via both solar and wind, but they could ‘buy in’ unused power from the city. The city, meanwhile, would not generate power but it’s utilities companies could store excess power in massive flywheels or some other kind of large scale storage device. And finally, if none of that is enough, companies could do what utility companies already do now – they could buy in power from other states.

In this possible future, power generation would be cheaper, cleaner and much, much safer. All that’s required is for the one-size-fits-all mindset to change.

Distributed is the way of the future, start thinking about it today. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


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