3 things direct from the future

Edition 27

Once every 2 weeks I will deliver “3 things direct from the future”. A 2 minute read that will always give you:

  • one thing that can help,
  • one thing to be wary of, and
  • one thing to amaze.

If this sounds interesting to you then please subscribe.


1. One thing that helps

Cat meme 74

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

The NFT (non-fungible token) world is exploding right now. If you are an artist or a musician who has been hit hard by the COVID-19 economy you should be paying serious attention.  

An NFT is like a certificate of authenticity for digital art or digital assets.  This includes music tracks, images, memes, digital game assets and almost anything else you can think of.

Let’s imagine a crazy world where I am a talented artist.  I create a piece of digital art – probably a really funny meme about cats – and then mint it to the blockchain.  This creates a secure token of authenticity in my digital wallet that is forever associated with that funny cat meme.  The value of this token is determined by whatever people will pay you for it.  If my piece of digital art gets shared and used millions of times all over the internet the value of the associated token will rise.

If an up-and-coming musician creates a new song they can mint it and sell the NFT to me.  The artist is not giving away ownership, publishing rights or anything else. They are selling the associated token.  If that musician then becomes Taylor Swift (or someone who makes good music) the value of the token will rise and if I choose, I can sell it on the NFT marketplace for a profit.   

NFTs are proving to be a life-saving new source of income for artists whose livelihood has been hit hard recently.  It is also an excellent way to be able to recognise the creators of digital art.  And if you have no creative talent like me you can still have fun trading NFTs on sites like Rarible.

2. One to be wary of

Fake DNA 

A short-but-sweet “one to be wary of” today as who knows where this one will go…. 

Researchers from Estonia have developed a machine learning system that can synthesize a genome sequence. What this AI does is to carefully map real human genome sequences, look for patterns then come up with a totally fake genome sequence of its own. This is extremely useful in the field of genetic research as currently researchers need real genomes to study.  Getting people to provide these genomes and guarding their privacy is a complex and expensive exercise.  Synthetic genomes mean that the research can be accelerated. 

Creating fake DNA is an absolute minefield though given its use as our unique identification system in the criminal justice world.  Maybe not “one to be wary of” just yet but stay tuned.

3. One to amaze

Air-Powered Robot

I love this one! You must click on the link in the header above as there is too much interesting info for a 2 minute newsletter.

Picture a robot. Most probably you’ll conjure an image of a metallic humanoid machine with sensors controlled by sophisticated electronics. But this little buddy here is an air powered robot. No electronics required.

Instead of electronic circuits, this robot is run by a pneumatic circuit which utilizes compressed air. Using valves and tubes, compressed air is regulated and controlled to move the robot’s legs. Its sensors, activated by external pressure such as when bumping into an obstacle, can also tell the robot how to maneuver. 

If this sounds basic, that’s because it is. And it isn’t. When you walk, you don’t think of what muscles you need to pull because your spinal cord does that for you. This robot’s pneumatic circuit imitates the same function: to take over locomotion in reaction to external stimuli. This electronics-less robot is much less expensive than one using more traditional technology. It is extremely useful in environments where it is dangerous to use electronics, like in a mine-shaft, around MRI machines and even in kids toys.

Aaaghh!!! Too much to say on this one.  Watch the video.  Click the link.  It’s super nerd-cool!

Have a great week.

Daniel J McKinnon

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