Echoes Into the Past: Outbreaks of Future Technologies in the Present

License: Creative Commons By Attribution/Share-Alike/Noncommercial v4.0

Presenter Notes


I do not speak for my employers or clients, past or present.

Some of the things I'm going to talk about I work on in some capacity. Some of them I don't work on, but think are great ideas that could use more attention.

Presenter Notes

Who am I?

Name: Bryce A. Lynch

E-mail: drwho at virtadpt dot net

PGP: 0x807B17C1 / 7960 1CDC 85C9 0B63 8D9F DD89 3BD8 FF2B 807B 17C1


Twitter: @virtadpt

I do stuff:

Presenter Notes

Things we like to talk about

  • Cryonic suspension
  • Life extension
  • Intelligence enhancement
  • Artificial general intelligence
  • Genetic manipulation

Presenter Notes

These are all things I think we should be working to bring into everyday life.

The potential benefits of any of these technologies could improve the human condition immensely.. assuming that it gets into the hands of enough people.

These lofty goals will probably not come to pass explosively. They are being built step by step, advance by advance.

Some of these advances fly under our collective radar because they come from directions or communities that don't get much press.

Maybe some of these projects aren't as advanced as they could be for this reason.

Perhaps other projects aren't being used optimally relative to their problem spaces.

Presenter Notes


First described by Alvin Toffler in Future Shock (1970).

Recently revisited by Rick Falkvinge in Swarmwise (2013) from a practical perspective.

How to assemble, motivate, and guide adhocracies to achieve specific goals. primary secondary

Best implemented as a brain trust of highly motivated people with diverse backgrounds and skillsets.

A subset of that brain trust comes together to solve specific problems and diperses back into the brain trust afterward.

The individuals in question gather and process information, draw conclusions, and implement solutions to the problems at hand.

Highly fluid structure, no central control mechanism.

Presenter Notes

What do adhocracies need?

An unobstructed communications platform so that participants can collaborate.

Information sharing platforms to store and analyze information.

  • Etherpad
  • Wikis
  • Distributed information systems
    • Revision control systems
    • Message boards
    • File sharing software

A motivated group of individuals committed to carrying out tasks and achieving goals before everything else (like playing around online).

Presenter Notes

Are there really functioning adhocracies?

  • Anonymous
  • Telecomix
  • The Cypherfunks
    • A network of musicians producing music under an assumed name.
    • Any work published as the Cypherfunks is considered an 'official' release by the band.
    • Cryptocurrency which serves as both tipjar and stock market.
  • Flashmobs
    • Flashmob Supercomputer in 2004
      • Over 700 computers
      • Peaked at 180 Gflops
      • Ran Linpack benchmarks
      • What else could they accomplish...?

Presenter Notes

Open Education

Access to good educational materials can be difficult. Many schools cannot afford to update their curricula.

General quality of STEM education in this country is sub-standard.

  • World Economic Forum ranks the US 49th in the world in math and science education. source
  • Also ranked 27th and falling in proportions of college students who receive degrees in science or engineering. source
  • National Math and Science Initiative has observed that 54% of high school graduates are ill prepared for college level math. source
  • 67% of high school grads are not prepared for basic college science. source

Teachers are overworked, badly underpaid, get no respect and little support.

Presenter Notes

What can we do to fix this?

We need to get our hands dirty.

We are all intelligent people with our eyes on our goals. We can step up to help.

All of us can teach something.

Libraries can always use people willing to help.

Hackerspaces regularly hold classes and are looking for instructors.

Community education programs seek both students and teachers.

Presenter Notes

Educational materials

Khan Academy

  • Founded by Salman Khan in 2006
  • Started tutoring his cousin in math via Yahoo! Doodle
  • 4,000 lectures, 100,000 homework problems, other courseware
    • Early math through trig, calculus, differential equations, linear algebra
    • Science from basic biology to organic chemistry and MCAT prep
    • Economics and finance
    • Test prep for SAT, GMAT, collegiate brush-ups
  • 30 languages
  • Free - BY-NC-SA

KA Lite - Software which allows you to download parts of the Khan Academy archive, take the materials offline, organize the materials into classes, and go through the courses at your own pace. Or use them to hold class.

Presenter Notes

Other free/libre education materials

MIT's Open Courseware

  • MIT
  • Internet Archive
  • iTunes U


  • "Civilization in a box"
  • 555+ gigabytes of information on practically everything

Presenter Notes

OSINT Analysis Software

OSINT - Open Source INTelligence

Intelligence information collected from publically available sources. source source

Robert David Steele

  • Mass media
  • Social media
  • Conferences
  • Scholarly works

Depending on whom you talk to in the intelligence community it is said to be more accurate than classified sources because people don't treat it the same way they treat classified material. They speak frankly about it, critique it.

It tends not to have an agenda or support a party line.

How do we make sense of it?

Presenter Notes


Information management tool for archiving and analyzing OSINT, principally for human rights defenders.

Has potential applications in other fields that use OSINT, even if it's not called that by practitioners.

Supports eleven languages.

Written in Java, designed to be as cross-platform as possible.

Used for collecting and analyzing reports, imagery, and evidence of human rights violations.

Data is entered into the application, stored as separate XML documents, indexed and then encrypted prior to storage.

Data is taggable and searchable.

Presents a GeoAPI so that data can be plotted on maps so that patterns can be found, events can be charted, and predictions can be made.

Presenter Notes

Open source prosthetics

Not polished chrome cyberpunk limbs, but usable replacement limbs.

Originally conceived for children born with limb defects.

Later, people who have lost limbs due to accidents, misadventures and combat.

Normal prosthetic limbs are incredibly expensive.

Often between $5kus and $50kus. Many insurance companies won't cover them, some will partly cover on a case by case basis. source

Getting them repaired is expensive.

They don't grow as the wearer does, so they have to be replaced.

Presenter Notes

The Open Prosthetics Project

  • Founded by former Marine Jonathon Kuniholm, who lost part of his right arm to an IED blast in Iraq.
  • After receiving his first prosthetic hand, he figured there had to be a better way.
  • Open source, licensed in the public domain
  • Meant to be improved upon and fabricated for anyone who needs one.
  • Everything can be built at your friendly neighborhood hackerspace
    • Custom parts are 3D printable
    • Commodity parts sourceable locally
    • Easy to maintain and repair
  • Open Prosthetics Project Wiki

Presenter Notes

The Open Hand Project

  • Aims to advance the state of the art in open source prosthetic hands.
  • Funded by a successful IndieGoGo campaign in 2013.

Thingiverse Collection

Presenter Notes

And another thing...

HacDC's Open Source Biosignal Amplifier

Open source: GPLv3

Can be configured as an EEG, EKG, or EMG.

Modular hardware architecture designed with safety as a primary goal.

Analog and USB 2.0 outputs.

Uses feedback AC coupling, active electrodes, driven shield, driven right leg circuit, and RF suppression to achieve noise levels of 1µV across 3kHz.

Bill of materials: Approximately $190us

Its low cost, low barrier to entry, and relatively small size would make it ideal for experimenting with myoelectric control of open source prosthetic limbs and potentially other devices.

Presenter Notes

Censorship circumvention technologies

Many of these things require a functioning communication network.

It's now blatantly obvious that everything that can possibly be used as a communications network is being monitored by somebody.

Two things about network surveillance equipment:

  • They can be flipped from 'surveil' to 'block' trivially.
  • If you're not one of the people running it, you have no say over what gets blocked and what doesn't.

Today, information on birth control, sex education, information security, and activism get blocked.

Presenter Notes


Information on...

  • Genetic manipulation
  • Machine learning
  • Open source software example
  • Grinding

...could be filtered by the ISP you're connected to.

Maybe by accident. Maybe not.

Maybe somebody will compromise the network surveillance equipment and flip that switch for their own reasons.

Presenter Notes

Why do I think this?

There are people who spend incredible amounts of time and money forcing textbook publishers to water down science textbooks. source source

There are people who are protesting because Cosmos is back on the air.

(Fun fact: Carl Sagan received death threats for the original Cosmos.) source source

It's trivial to send a DMCA takedown request and get something you don't like removed. Like any of the above topics or criticisms thereof. source example example example example example example

Google reported that the number of DMCA takedown notices it receives has increased 711,887% in the last four years. source source

It's only a matter of time before somebody gets the bright idea to apply these tactics to stuff they don't like.

Presenter Notes

Why am I talking about all these things?

These are all things that exist or are happening right now.

We can build, modify, and use these things right now.

We can advance the state of the art in all of these fields.

We can use them to further our respective goals and use them as stepping stones toward the grand transhuman future that we talk so much about.

We can use a combination of one or more as part of an an X-threat mitigation or remediation programme.

The future does not come to us easily. It is built day by day, person by person, and technological advance by advance.

Those advances have to leave the lab and hit the streets.

Presenter Notes

These are technologies that we can use to make the world a better place right now.

Globally speaking, transhumanists are in the minority.

We are in a unique position to make a global contribution.

That contribution can be helping the human race advance toward the next step in its evolution by raising the quality of life and access to technological advances for as many as possible.

The future is up to us, and if we don't step out of the lab and get our boots on the ground where it really matters, we will not get the future we dream of.

We'll get someone else's, and it's anybody's guess as to how much say we'll have in it.

Presenter Notes

Thank you.

Presenter Notes