Tag Archives: nano-technology

Smart Dust: computers and people

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SMART DUST: People and computers living in perfect harmony?

COMPUTERS have advanced so splendidly in the past few years that electricians are now able to make micro-computers the size of pinheads. The proposed applications for computers of this size range from modifying the weather to controlling the electrical infrastructure of large cities. Of course, it is wise to be wary of anything that is powerful and to analyse critically the potential of such technology before it involuntarily becomes an integral part of our lives.

Smartdust

Dr Kristofer Pister demonstrating the size of smart dust particles (Images: newilluminati.blog-city.com)

Smart dust is one particular brand of microcomputers that has been hailed as a society-changing element that will greatly improve and change the way we live our daily lives. Devised by Dr Kristofer Pister from the University of California in 2001, smart dust is able to gather information from its surrounding environment and send this to people or other computers.

A smart dust particle or mote is a wireless sensor that has four basic functions — sensing, computation, communication and power — all built into one tiny package. With smart dust being so low powered and inexpensive, the idea is to spread it everywhere — in every building, on every street, in every electrical device and ultimately, in or on every human being.

What smart dust is able to do is create a large invisible network that, in theory, would be able to manage the infrastructure of even the largest city in the world. Streets and buildings would be able to recognise people and respond accordingly. Workplaces would recognise employees and buzz you into the building. Smart dust could even send a lift to your floor and boot up your PC.

Of course the major concern involves privacy. If all of this information about you is available and gathered by smart dust, who else has access to it? Smart dust would also allow certain people to know exactly where you are at all times and could quite easily turn on you and deny you freedom of movement and access. It may sound like something from a movie, but the amount of control that powerful people could have on the masses via smart dust is certainly something to be cautious of.

What is a good idea is having smart dust monitor our roadways and transport systems. Smart dust scattered on the roads would be able to report potholes and traffic jams to commuters, and smart dust on the railways would be able to accurately report late trains in an instant. Bridges coated in smart dust would be able to report stress fractures, helping to avoid collapse and prevent disaster.

Smartdust

The first smart dust particles created in 2001, which were about the size of a deck of playing cards.

But do we want such fabric dispersed everywhere? Smart dust may be evolving to the microscopic level, but it is by no means undeniably safe. Several news reports were released in the past decade about a similar substance known as global environmental sensors (GEMS) that had been released into the atmosphere to monitor weather conditions. There was very little thought given to these electrical particles being inhaled once they descended to Earth, nor any given to the fact that several micro-organisms could ingest smart dust and die as a result.

It almost seems worth having to boot up your work PC manually and save a termite population in the process.

Incentive to work

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A NEW WORLD: Where technology replaces servitude

HOW many people do you know that live for their job? Who can’t wait to get to work and don’t give a fig about how much money they earn from it? Probably not very many. The sad reality is that the majority of people work to live rather than the other way round. We obviously need the money to survive.

The idea of a moneyless society is hard to imagine because we have never experienced such a thing. So, theoretically-speaking, if such a society did exist, what incentive would people have to work and do jobs that are not particularly pleasant? The short answer is that, ultimately, they wouldn’t have to; technology and machines would do most of the work for us.

Telephone Exchange

Possibly deceased telephone exchange operators

If we look back at history we can already see a gradual progression of human labour being replaced by machine automation. Several occupations have become obsolete due to their replacement by machines. Candle makers, elevator doormen, telephone exchange operators are a few jobs that no longer require human labour or are no longer relevant to society.

We therefore have a right to fear machines, for human employment is in direct competition with technological development. However, this creates a serious clash which proves the falseness of the monetary-based labour system.

Employment is necessary to survive in a money-based system. However, given the fundamental priority of profit by industry, people through time will be continually laid off and replaced by machines. If, on the other hand, we didn’t need to work to earn a living, we would then more readily embrace the idea that machines free people rather than putting them out of a job. After all, freeing people to live their lives without servitude is the point of technology itself.

Neurosurgery

Neurosurgery

This replacement of human labour by machines is not only possible, but inevitable. And with the pace that new technologies are being developed, specifically that of nano-technology, it is not difficult to foresee the phasing out of up to 90% of all human occupations. Machines today are even capable of performing complex medical procedures — often with higher success rates than humans.

Furthermore, if money was taken out of the picture, a large portion of current day occupations would no longer have any basis to exist because they would no longer be relevant. Anything associated with the management of money, advertising, along with the legal system itself would have no basis to exist in a resource-based economy.

If money was no longer needed to survive and people were given free and easy access to the necessities of life, a great majority of the crimes that are committed today would never occur. Contrary to propaganda, it is largely environmental conditioning that lures people into criminal and violent behaviou­r.

According to this view, man-made laws are attempts to deal with recurring problems that people do not know how to solve properly. It is a sad reality that in most countries today, more resources are devoted to prisons and police rather than alleviating poverty, which is known to be one of the majo­r contributors and factors behind crimes committed.

EDUCATION
Given the above, perhaps we need to view machines more positively and think of them as an extension of human performance rather than as hunks of metal that might put us out of a job. We also need to understand that if people have easy and free access to the necessities of life they would behave very differently.

Education

Eager young minds of today

We are taught to support the monetary system, not only by working to earn money, but by believing that a monetary system produces incentive. However, the simple truth is that if money were taken out of the picture people’s incentives would be very different.

New incentives would emerge that perhaps weren’t there before. If all our needs were met we might take more interest in space and the stars, environmental conservation and helping to educate our fellow human being.

Education is paramount in such a society. Today education produces people for specialised jobs rather than teaching them about the world. Instead, it needs to create generalists — critical thinkers with extensive worldviews.

Most people today don’t know a lot about a lot of different subjects because the structure of our educational systems. You would never get people to go to war if they were educated this way, nor would they give a fig about doing the unthinkable to make a quick buck.

You can read the other parts to this series below:

Zeitgeist Moving Forward: Your life, your world