Superpowers: Keeping It Simple
“If you want ‘X-ray vision’, you may no longer need to be an actual Superman. It’s now possible for your average Joe Blow to see through objects — with the right bleeding-edge tech,” according to ‘MIT Invents “X-Ray Vision” Headset That Can See Inside Boxes’. But sadly, it only works if the boxed items have RFID tag on them…
Then there’s: “Whether it is managing childcare, operating on a patient or cooking a Sunday dinner, there are many occasions when an extra pair of arms would come in, well, handy,” according to ‘Human Augmentation With Robotic Body Parts Is At Hand, Say Scientists’.
Already a Cambridge University team has come up with a 3D-printed thumb that can be added to any hand. And with it being based on responding to natural movements, no invasive electrodes in your brain or spinal column are required to use it.
“[It’s] a layer on the body that can be used with the least amount of impact as possible for the most amount of gain,” said a researcher. And more good news: 98% of people could use the thumb within the first minute of trying it. “I can’t imagine a brain chip that can do that.”
In other words, it’s sometimes the simpler solutions that work best.
Move Fast and Explode Things
Taking the startup ethos of “move fast and break things” to ridiculous new heights (literally): ‘Starship Exploded, But SpaceX Had Reason to Pop Champagne Anyway’.
The company also achieved new heights in euphemism: “The four-minute flight ended in what the company called a ‘rapid unscheduled disassembly’ – meaning it blew up.”
Still many applauded. SpaceX is not only famously transparent about both its successes and failures. These failures also show “how hard some of this stuff is,” noted a NASA rep.
“Big NASA programs like the Space Launch System that the government agency used for a launch to the moon in November are generally not afforded the same luxury of explode-as-you-learn. There tends to be much more testing and analysis on the ground – which slows development and increases costs – to avoid embarrassing public failures.”
And it’s all in the name of turning us into interplanetary superheroes…
Superpowers For All?
The biggest story around supercharging human abilities and ambitions remains around how large language models like ChatGPT and other AI technologies seem set to transform, well, everything.
“Whether it’s based on hallucinatory beliefs or not, an artificial-intelligence gold rush has started over the last several months to mine the anticipated business opportunities from generative AI models like ChatGPT. App developers, venture-backed startups, and some of the world’s largest corporations are all scrambling to make sense of the sensational text-generating bot released by OpenAI last November,” according to ‘ChatGPT Is About To Revolutionize The Economy. We Need To Decide What That Looks Like.’
No one is sure how things will evolve, but the impact will be huge in terms of employment. “These new tools could heavily affect 19% of jobs, with at least 50% of the tasks in those jobs ‘exposed’. In contrast to what we saw in earlier waves of automation, higher-income jobs would be most affected, they suggest.”
“We are at a juncture where either less-skilled workers will increasingly be able to take on what is now thought of as knowledge work, or the most talented knowledge workers will radically scale up their existing advantages over everyone else.”
“It’s the assumptions underlying the narrative that are most troubling – namely, that AI is headed on an inevitable job-destroying path and most of us are just along for the (free?) ride. This view barely acknowledges the possibility that generative AI could lead to a creativity and productivity boom for workers far beyond the tech-savvy elites by helping to unlock their talents and brains. There is little discussion of the idea of using the technology to produce widespread prosperity by expanding human capabilities and expertise throughout the working population.”
In other words, it’s not at all simple. It’s time to take our emerging superpowers seriously…