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Explore the future?

future.jpgI just received this interesting link to the memebox.com future scanner. I might have misunderstood the email initially, since I thought it was just another spam message, and that it suggested some weird way to predict the future. However, after visiting the site, I think it’s a great idea! Actually, the Future Scanner is a great way to keep up to date on what people are talking about when trying to predict the future. Here’s a snip from the email:

MemeBox.com proudly announces the Public Beta release of its first application, the Future Scanner (futurescanner.net), a community-powered app that organizes info about the future by year and category. Dedicated to the cutting-edge stories shaping our tomorrow, the MemeBox Future Scanner is an essential part of every forward-thinking person’s toolkit.

“Everywhere you look these days, people are talking about the future,” points out MemeBox CEO, Jeff Hilford, “There is a growing body of fascinating and flat-out cool future-related content scattered across the internet. The Future Scanner aggregates this thought-provoking material and presents it in a visually appealing, easily searchable manner.”

Whether you’re out surfing for leading-edge content, or seriously researching trends, the Future Scanner is a great place to start. Where else can you easily find links like “Brain-Computer Interface for Second Life”, “Robotic Pied Piper Leads Roaches” and “Nanoscale Inkjet Printing”?

“Already, the Future Scanner is a tool that I look forward to using every day,” says Alvis Brigis, MemeBox President, “In addition to offering cool, stimulating links that are fun to read, it keeps me aware of what’s going on, providing me with a broader sense of context across a variety of fields. I’m confident that we’re well on our way to building a novel and comprehensive resource that people will enjoy and find very useful.”

MemeBox plans to quickly add new features to the Future Scanner and then to complement it with other powerful applications.

Jeff Hilford, CEO, says, “From a broader perspective, our goal here at MemeBox is to create a rich, interactive playground that allows people to explore the future and see how accelerating technological change will increasingly affect their everyday lives.”

In terms of neuroethics, some items I found through the scanner included whether we will be able to cure ageing, when silicon can model the brain to a sufficient level of complexity, and an interesting story about brain-computer interface for Second Life. Indeed, I’m going to add Future Scanner to my feeds.

-Thomas

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kandel150.jpgThis year’s annual question at Edge was, “What are you optimistic about?”. Now, Brockman has asked Eric Kandel to outline the four neuroscience breakthroughs made in 2006 that makes him optimistic about our future possibility of understanding the brain. The first breakthrough is research into the role of microRNAs in the formation of synapses. The second is research into the encoding of external space in the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex. Kandel’s third choice is research into social interaction, including Rebecca Saxe’s imaging studies of Theory of Mind, and Barry Dickson’s discovery that if the male form of the protein fruitless is expressed in female Drosophila, the females will display male courship behaviour. And his fourth is the possibility, through neuroimaging and other new techniques, of understanding the effects of psychotherapy on psychiatric diseases.

All four advances are clearly great causes for optimism. But maybe there are other breakthroughs worth mentioning? What about research into decision-making, or comparative genetic studies casting light on the evolution of the hominid brain? I bet that you readers have your own suggestions. Please share them with us in the comments section.

-Martin

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