The idea that made the world stand still

Africa's mobile phone industry 'booming' 1According to seasoned future-gazer Ray Kurzweil: ”A kid in Africa, with a cell phone, has access to more intelligence than President Clinton did 15 years ago.”

The implications of that (fact?) are worthy of several weighty tomes. So we won’t cheapen it with homespun analysis. But to prove the point that the rate of acceleration is set to ‘unstoppable nosebleed’, hundreds of new things became possible for the first time this week.

Obviously this didn’t include Americans asking: ‘Please Mr President, can we build our very Death Star?’ And we’re not sure Quantum Time Crystals will get past the theoretical stage. But, as they say, if you don’t spot big gaps, you won’t make big innovations.

Which is probably how Star Trek’s medical tricorder came to be made real. More excitingly, could it be made out of transforming matter – tiny ‘robots’ that can turn into anything? Most things seem possible when gadgets are announced to be the new celebrities and any of us can go to the moon, even it it’ll cost us $750million a pop. And hell, what seems far-fetched when we’re building farms in city skies?

But this week the human collective also came over all down-to-earth, applying nosebleed acceleration to the more mundane problems of everyday life.

A simpler way to address every letter you send was launched in a postal supernova by Noel Gallager. And if the 3D printing services coming to the High Street send your stress levels rocketing – like every other printer we’ve ever used – at least you can monitor your rising anxiety on a phone, which may also have an app to find you a parking space.

Look carefully and you’ll find actual dollar signs in the eyes of the entrepreneurs responsible. As will Apple if it finally delivers it’s TV and creates a new category in the process which – contrary to our scepticism of last week – may actually be close at hand.

But not so the Kindle team. Nosebleed acceleration means that tablets are slated to slay eReaders. Meanwhile, others are predicting the demise of paper, the QWERTY keyboard and even phone numbers. Which made the prospect of a Great Payphone Revival sound even more unlikely.

And if some news was tinged with nostalgia, other developments started full-scale moral panics. There was downright distrust over the idea that your TV might start watching you as you’re watching it. And horrorshow headlines abounded over ‘evil’ canine clones running rampant in New York.

All proving that, in tech as well as life, there’s always ying for your yang. So while the UK Government announced a volunteer army of geeks to protect us from cyber threats, David Cameron and Boris Johnson want to spruce up Silicon Roundabout. Although KPMG seemed to be saying that much more needs to be done than that before the UK’s a proper tech hot spot.

True dat! But there’s no time to get depressed as we’ve got a batch of fabulous things to watch:

The Laws of Physics seem to be optional
It’s alive and neurotic! Watch this lamp move, react to and display emotion
T
he rate of births and deaths in real time
He kicked me first – twins in the womb

And with that, the nosebleed endeth. We’re just off to catch our breath. And find some tissues.

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