It's a new year, one that promises significant strides in technology and major accomplishments along the frontier of science and medicine. While this year will likely be dominated by the rise of wearables and artificial intelligence along with the drama in the energy sector, it's the cultural shifts that are in swing that will make this a landmark year.

After all, we're only 5 years away from 2020 and 30 years away from the ominous 2045, the year burned in the minds of those who follow the Singularity.

Enjoy this week's stories!


ROBOTS: How Aldebaran Robotics Built Its Friendly Humanoid Robot, Pepper
Erico Guizzo | IEEE Spectrum
"The emotion engine, which Son highlighted in the event, uses the robot’s vision system to detect smiles, frowns, and surprise, and it uses speech recognition to sense the tone of voice and to detect certain words indicative of strong feelings, like “love” and “hate.” The engine then computes a numeric score that quantifies the person’s overall emotion as positive or negative."

MEDICINE: Every Patient a Subject
Jennifer J. Kulynych & Hank Greely | Slate
"Patients today generally don’t know when their medical records have been disclosed for research, or to whom—making it difficult to object. In the not-so-distant future, when medical records include our unique genomes, this status quo will be ethically unacceptable."

DIGITALIZATION: Writers Are Mixed Over Amazon Unlimited
David Streitfeld | The New York Times
"The self-publishing world seems to be split into two camps. Some think Amazon will increase the payment for each book read, communicate more with the writers and generally assume the mantle once again of the writer’s best friend. The others are sure it will not."

CITIES: What Makes Up A “Sustainable” City? — Thoughts On The Key Components of Future Sustainable Cities
James Ayre | CleanTechnica
"Despite the outward language used by many in the renewable energy and 'green' industries, the question of true 'sustainability' is not one that’s often truly broached in any meaningful way (to my mind) by representatives and proponents of said industries."

FUTURE: The End of Endless Growth: Part 1
Nafeez Ahmed | Motherboard
"Civilization is thus undergoing a huge, momentous phase shift as the current form of global predatory capitalism crumbles beneath the weight of its own mounting unsustainability. As this process unfolds, it simultaneously opens up a range of scenarios for new forms of society, within which there is an opportunity for 'a great transition towards new institutional forms' that could include greater “democratic self-government of communities and their territories."

FUTURE: The End of Endless Growth: Part 2
Nafeez Ahmed | Motherboard
"Far from being all doom and gloom, continuing global economic fragility is symptomatic of a fundamental shift in the very nature of civilization itself. The new era of slow growth and austerity has emerged because the biosphere is forcing us to adapt to the consequences of breaching environmental limits."

Special Report: 2015 Top Tech to Watch
IEEE Spectrum
"We predict the technologies that will make headlines this year so you’ll never be surprised"

 

[image credit: future astronaut courtesy of Shutterstock]

I've been writing for Singularity Hub since 2011 and have been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. My interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but I'll always be a chemist at heart.