Saturday, August 25, 2012

Man on the Moon

The Final Frontier 

 William Halal's chapter on the Final Frontier (Technology's Promise) puts space exploration into the limelight for a technology forecast. I read this chapter as part forecast and part roadmap to manned space exploration since since the ideas feed off one another and there are some synergies between the ideas. For example, Space Tourism could lead to a desire for the Moon Base. The Moon Base can be used as a launch point for a manned mission to Mars...

Tech Forecast

 The tech forecast I chose to focus on was the Moon Base. The Moon Base was funded by President George W. Bush to allow NASA to set up a manned colony on the moon, with the idea of using the Moon Base as a launching point for a mission to Mars. There are also efforts being funded by the European Union for a manned moon colony called Aurora. Halal reports that the tech forecasters believe(d)with 50% confidence that a Moon Base would be established sometime around 2028. The site has since updated this estimate to 2032.

Impacting Forces

There are several forces impacting the progress towards a Moon Base.


The most impactful one I believe is an economical force. The current economic environment in the United States, and the European Union makes it difficult to justify spending on Space Exploration. With the economic hardships being felt around the world, what world leader would be willing to take brunt of an attack by establishing a policy to fund a Moon Base? Without a real, driving need for a Moon Base funding will be scarce for the foreseeable future.


There are also global considerations that need to be taken into consideration. Who has the property rights to establish a moon colony? The first one's there? Will this be the space equivalent to the Oklahoma land rush? I don't think so. The precedent has been set with the International Space Station to have a joint venture into this environment. I do believe there will be conflict over the settlement though since not all countries are part of the ISS project.

My Forecast

Based upon the two forces listed, along with others, I believe the Moon Base will occur much later than the forecast of 2032.  With the current situation I believe the Moon Base won't occur until 2045 or later.

Technologies Promise, Ch 7; William E. Halal

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Moving towards Cybernetics

I had some fun finding some imagery showing how some people are envisioning our transition to being a cybernetic specie.  I remember back in my childhood watching as Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar version not the WWE version :0), ran 60 mph and used his bionic eye to do battle with criminals and even Sasquatch.  With technology today we are starting to see some true bionics in the medical field.  Here are some ideas of what may be coming.

Make your own photo slideshow at Animoto.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Thoughts on Richard Yonck’s blog of the Future Olympic Games

Oscar Pistorius - Track and Field

The London 2012 Olympic games have come to a close with yet another set of World Records falling to the ever increasing skills of the world’s best athletes.  In an effort to compete at the highest levels athletes are subjecting their bodies to extreme conditions.  In Poland, for instance, athletes are allowing their bodies to be super cooled to -220 degrees Fahrenheit.  This has physiological ( effects on their bodies such as increasing  their veins expanding to four times the normal size which has the benefit of increased oxygenated blood being supplied to the body.These are legal techniques.  Of course we have all heard of the illegal doping of athletes to gain an advantage on the competition.  This year we saw the first competitor with prosthetics allowed to compete, Oscar Pistorius.  During the Olympic telecast many reporters were telling tales of athletes wondering if the prosthetics would give Pistorius an advantage over the other athletes.

Supercooled Athletes in London 2012
Yonck fast forwards to the Future Olympics where all of the world records have been broken, and the human body has been taken to its physical limits.  Will we lose interest in the Olympics?  Yonck believes people will start to replace or enhance the abilities of competitors and a new breed of Olympic athlete will take the stage.  Will the Olympics change and allow these athletes to compete or will a new Extreme Olympics come into existence where athletes are encouraged to take advantage of technology to go faster, higher and become stronger than ever before?  Yonck believes the latter is the case.  The Olympics will survive in their current format but become less popular over time.  

I agree that people will eventually enhance their capabilities and athletes will be the leaders in making the change to a cyber-athlete.  There are forces of influence which will affect the adoption of this future.
Hawkeye -Enhanced Vision could help w/Archery

Global - In the case of the Extreme Olympics, countries and athletes from around the world will need to embrace technology and accept risks associated with being early adopters of cyber enhancement.  Additionally, the resources must be available to all countries around the world if we are to have a high-tech surrogate for the current Olympic games.  After all, I think one of the most fun aspects of the current format of the Olympics is that an athlete from a small country can beat athletes from wealthier countries.

Technological - Athletes must be able to control their enhanced cyber attributes in true real-time, just as they can their bodies.  This will require a brain-to-device interface.  There will need to be a lot of research to make this happen in  a safe manner.  It is possible though.  There are “toys” on the open market now that take advantage of the brain-to-machine interface, see Mattel Mindflex.

I believe both of these influencing forces will be overcome, and the human and machine will become one.

3 high-tech Olympic training techniques that sound like science fiction,

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Structured Design Process (SDP)

Last post I discussed how the NGT and Delphi methods could be used to facilitate discussions of complex problems and expressing ideas for future things.  I still believe the Delphi method will work best for the challenges associated with Humans as Internet Nodes, but after reading about the Structured Design Process (Schreibman & Christakis, 2007) I found some complementary characteristics that could be beneficial.

This first characteristic is a well-defined ontology.  When dealing with challenges on a global scale, an ontology for organizing and representing dialogues as they evolve is imperative to ensure people from diverse backgrounds and cultures are using the same vocabulary and symbols (for visual thinkers) to represent the same things.  Schreibman and Christakis’ ontology is shown in this graphic.

We can use this ontology as part of our discussions with respect to Humans as an Internet Node.  Some quick thoughts for this…

Data Processing – how do we see (if visual) or access data from the Internet?
Human Interface – how do we make the queries for data?  Or, does our node intuit what we will be asking?
Safety: how do we become a node and maintain personal safety and the safety of others?

The Fields may also be useful in categorizing our thoughts into Forces.  For instance, the safety field is also a force which will contribute to the success or failure of this vision.

Profiles:  these would be subtopics or groupings of our ideas under each of the fields.

Plausibility Maps and Pathways:  I like this feature.  This is very similar to use case analysis and scenario exploration when developing a Concept of Operation.

Superpostion:  allocating maps and pathways to fields and profiles.

The Structured Design Process (SDP) may also be used to support planning for innovation and change.  The general SDP flow is shown here.

The need for innovation or change is driven by a complex challenge.  In order to begin the planning process you must fully understand what the problem is that needs to be solved.  A well-framed question is essential to this process as John Dewey stated, “a problem well put is half solved.”  The rest of the process is focused on ensuring the entire group understands the problem and provides input.  The main point is to avoid Groupthink and to come up with a decision that each individual within the group can take ownership of.


Schreibman, V, and A N Christakis. "New Agora: New Geometry of Languaging and New Technology of Democracy: The Structured Design Dialogue Process." International Journal of Applied Systemic Studies 1, no. 1 (2007): 15-31.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Research Methods for Innovation: Nominal Group Technique vs. Delphi

Innovation Methods

For information systems (IS) research there are two innovation methods which lend themselves to solving complex problems.  Depending on the type of problem being worked and how much information is known on the topic each has strengths and weaknesses.

Nominal Group Technique (NGT)

The NGT is a consensus-planning tool used to elicit opinions from groups of people with a common background or shared experience (Dobbie et. al, 2004).  It is an iterative process that begins with a well-formed question being posed to the group.  The method is designed to gather both positive and negative responses to the questions and allows each person to share all of their responses, both positive and negative.  With the aid of a facilitator, the individuals write one response at a time on a post-it (this is a silent activity).  Once the participants have captured their responses they each take a turn sharing an idea.  The group discusses the responses and asks for clarifications after all members silently share their ideas.  When all of the ideas/responses are posted, the facilitator or group may combine similar responses into a common response or theme.  Each individual gets a number of votes and allocates them to the responses.  The votes are tallied and a prioritized list of responses is created showing the most popular responses to the proposed questions.


The Delphi method is well suited for instances where the researcher is trying to gain a better understanding of a problem, create a forecast, or evaluate potential solutions to complex problems (Skulmoski, Hartman & Krahn, 2007).  The Delphi is also an iterative process that gathers the anonymous inputs from subject matter experts.  This method gathers the inputs, each participant is able to consider the groups responses and clarify their own views in light of new information or progress made by the group as a whole.  The group provides feedback on responses, which are gathered and provided to the original author in a controlled manner.  As the method iterates the experts are able to feed off each other's ideas.  The feedback mechanism used in this method is chosen by the researcher to facilitate further analysis of responses through statistical or qualitative methods.

My Choice

Since my research topic is not well understood, I choose the Delphi method to explore how we humans might become nodes on the internet.  My subject matter experts will be fellow researchers and anyone else who would like to participate in this forum.  We are all users of the internet and therefore we are all subject matter experts on the topic of how we use the internet and what frustrates us about current interfaces.


Technological:  How might we create an interface which is integrated with our human senses or brain?
Medical: How might we design the interface to be safe for human integration?

Dobbie, A, M Rhodes, J W Tysinger, and J Freeman. "Using a Modified Nominal Group Technique As a Curriculum Evaluation Tool." FAMILY MEDICINE-KANSAS CITY- 36 (2004): 402-406

Skulmoski, G J, F T Hartman, and J Krahn. "The Delphi Method for Graduate Research." Journal of information technology education 6 (2007): 1.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Listening to Color

This week I enjoyed watching and listening to Neil Harbisson: I listen to color on  Neil Harbisson was born completely color blind, meaning that he sees the world in tones of gray.  He says that his entire world is a black and white TV.  Enabling Neil to "see" color is a very complex challenge.  How would you be able to convey colors given his circumstances of never seeing an actual color?  In this case, Neil Harbisson and a friend devised a video camera that is attached to his head that recognizes color and translates it into a musical tone which he is able to feel/hear.  Now he is able to "see" grass and green through the tone that he hears.

Why was this interesting to me, and why do I bring it up here?  Neil Harbisson describes himself as a cyborg.  He is a combination of technology and human.  His video eye is part of his being now and was permitted to be worn for his official government photo id.  This is important because you aren't able to wear anything on your head/face that isn't part of your body for the official photo.  His government actually agreed the video eye was a part of his body for the purposes of the photo.  Interesting.

Now, as I alluded to last week, how long is it until we are the computer rather than just wearing it and augmenting our senses?  I plan to continue exploring this path over the next couple of months.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Moving towards natural interaction with computers- gesture-based computing

The New Media Consortium 2012 Horizon Report lists gesture-based computing as one of the top trends expected to affect the teaching and learning environment over the next four to five years (Johnson, Adams, and Cummins 2012).  This trend will allow teachers and students to interact with virtual objects in a natural manner.  The interaction with the virtual environment will be intuitive and potentially decrease the amount of time for student mastery of content.  Gesture-based computing is becoming more and more accessible with the gaming industry taking the lead in research and development with such products as the  Nintendo Wii, and more to the point, Microsoft XBox Kinect.  The popularity of these gaming platforms and the potential integration of voice recognition software may increase the rate of adoption for this technology.

There are numerous other applications involving gesture-based computing listed in the Horizon Report.  One of the listed technologies is LG TV support for voice and gesture control (Wilcox 2012).  As part of this integration effort, LG is adding native support for GoogleTV to some television models this year.  The LG user interface is integrating Magic Motion into the remote controls for the TV platform.  As the gesture-based computing and voice interfaces mature it will create a new market for advanced applications available for use on television sets and mobile devices.

Ultimately this trend is worth watching as I believe over the next 15 to 20 years the human computer interaction will be much more than gesture or voice control.  I believe we will be part of the web and the interface will be controlled within ourselves  I plan to explore this idea more over the next few months as part of a futuring intitiative.


Johnson, L, S Adams, and M Cummins. "The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition." New Media Consortium (2012).

Wilcox, James K.. "CES 2012: LG adds Google TVs, Smart TVs get voice and gesture control." (accessed July 28, 2012)