Tag Archives: Future

Did Self-Driving Cars Hit a “Pothole?”

While a lot of us want to see the revolution of self-driving vehicles, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially after what happened a couple weeks ago.

This could be the future of driving but Uber may not have a part in it; photo from techgenez.com
This could be the future of driving but Uber may not have a part in it; photo from techgenez.com

A woman in Arizona was killed when a self-driving car from Uber hit her while she was crossing the street at night. She “could have” been to blame for suddenly walking off a median or jaywalking in front of the car in the night. However, the street was well-lit and the woman was making an attempt to get across the street before the car hit her.  This shows that there is work to be done by Uber and state governments.

Self-driving cars would save many lives in the future but as of now, at least 30,000 to 40,000 people every year in the U.S. die in auto accidents (human-driven cars).

The provider of Uber’s laser technology, Velodyne, said that their technology was “more than capable” of identifying her before the collision which would have stopped the car.  Police in Arizona stated that the car didn’t slow down until after she was hit.

Velodyne is blaming Uber and its test driver for the incident and they have a point. Uber’s driver, who is supposed to take the car over if the autonomous system fails, didn’t even have their hands on the steering wheel. Uber’s cars have had a hard time lasting 13 miles before a driver has to take over. In comparison, Waymo’s cars (Google) can last over 5,600 miles.

Uber has also cut down its Lidar system from seven units to only one. The remaining one does have a blind spot according to employees who have worked on the car. So in other words, Uber is cutting corners to lay claim as the first company to sell a self-driving car.

States across the U.S. have taken action and have made regulations for the self-driving cars which is why Uber is in Arizona (they don’t have many regulations for the self-driving car business). Arizona could have a problem on their hands if this becomes a common theme.

While self-driving cars are touted as the future of driving and they would cut down on many deaths, there is more work to be done before they become a common feature in someone’s driveway. States have to be tough on regulation so we get the best product, and don’t end up with a product that has been cutting corners like Uber has.



Networking is more important than you think

Networking is everything. Meeting new people, as many people as you can, is as important as an impressive resume or extensive experience, sometimes even more important. Knowing people, no matter how unimportant or important you think they are, will almost always come in handy later in life when you’re looking for that dream job. When it comes to that time in your life when the job you’re applying for is being decided between you and someone else, having connections and knowing people in your field will be your saving grace, will get you that job.

Talking everyone and anyone can lead to great experiences. Graphic from logok.org
Talking everyone and anyone can lead to great experiences. Graphic from logok.org

Outside my hotel in New York city, I was smoking a cigarette, wearing my student media conference name tag, when a woman walked up and stood next to me and pulled out a cigarette as well.

She saw my name tag, as well as my girlfriend’s name tag who was also standing next to me, and began to talk to us, asking about the conference and what specifically we were doing here. As we were telling her, she revealed to us that she is a managing editor at NBC. We kept our conversation going by asking her questions about her job and how she got to the position she is at now. She gave us advice, telling us we need to do internships every year, that networking and knowing people will be vital to our careers in media.

She gave us wonderful advice and expressed to us that she loved her job and she feels rewarded everyday, being able to do what she does. As she was leaving, we graciously thanked her for talking to us and she told us again “Internships, internships, internships!” I will forever remember that conversation and how much her advice affected me.

When we walked outside our hotel to smoke, we would have never thought that we’d run into the managing editor of NBC. If we had been at a different place at a different time, we would have never had the amazing opportunity of meeting her. If we weren’t wearing our name tags, she would have had no idea we were attending the student media conference and she wouldn’t have talked to us in the first place.

We didn’t think we would have met someone so influential by going outside and having a cigarette. Networking doesn’t always have to be forced, nor does it have to be awkward or intimidating. Cecilia Bradley was one of the nicest women I’ve ever met and she’ll never know the true impact she had on me. Who knows, maybe sometime in the future, our small conversation on the streets of New York City will help me get my dream job.

Growing up is hard to do

Taking the first steps toward your future is never easy. It’s exciting, yet scary, because for the first time in your life, you’re on your own. You’ve always wanted to feel independent and as if your life is finally yours (and only yours) to live how you please, but now, you’re left feeling like maybe you’re not cut out to make these important decisions by yourself. Like maybe you’re always going to need someone else to help pick you up from the fear and doubt you’ve always felt. But maybe, you are ready to be on your own, to live without fear or reservations, to feel what it’s like to be your own person, to be who you’ve always wanted to be.

Stand on your own two feet. Photo from quickmeme.com
Stand on your own two feet. Photo from quickmeme.com

“Becoming an adult” doesn’t always have to be scary. The very phrase itself is different for each individual. It might mean moving out of your childhood home, getting your first job, taking on more responsibilities than you’ve ever had, or it could mean something completely different, that’s something you need to remember.

Everyone has different experiences with “growing up.” Never try and compare your growth with someone else because you’re never in the exact same situation as the person next to you. Your childhood, economic status, social status, and personal status never has, nor will ever be, identical to someone else’s.

Never think that your own personal growth isn’t enough or isn’t escalating at the rate as someone else. Focus on who you are, who you want to be, and where you want to go in life.

Whether or not you’re ready to take on this new chapter of your life, it’s coming, and it doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating. Even though this new chapter is filled with new responsibilities and different types of emotions, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t ask for help.

Being a mature person means knowing when you need help and not being too fearful or prideful to ask for it. Although it might feel like you’re being abandoned or left to fend for yourself, it isn’t true. There will always be someone willing and able to help you out. You just have to be willing to ask and accept what’s being offered to you. Take one day at a time and remember that, in the end, this is your life to live and you should live to the fullest.

Just breathe

Insomnia is the dark cloud that looms over your head late at night, taunting you, laughing at you as you toss and turn, as you beg for sleep to overtake you. It’s the endless thoughts that consume your mind, creating false insecurities and exaggerated life dreams that keep you thinking and contemplating everything that has ever happened in your life.

You obsess over every little thing that happened during the day, from a small conversation you had with you professor to deciding what you want to do with your life after college. Insomnia has zero mercy.

Don't be this guy. Just breathe through it. Photo from theawkwardyeti.com
Don’t be this guy. Just breathe through it. Photo from theawkwardyeti.com

No one can help the intensity or frequency that insomnia has on their life. People always say “Just relax! Stop thinking and go to sleep.” If it were that easy, insomnia wouldn’t be an issue, but unfortunately, no one can physically turn off their thoughts, their hopes, their chronic dark thoughts that enter the mind no matter the time of day.

Insomnia doesn’t care how physically and emotionally tired you are. The constant, unwavering thoughts that burn holes through your brain don’t care about how badly your eyes burn, how your head feels too heavy to even lift off your pillow, how your legs ache from the exhausting day, consisting of walking across campus multiple times in order to get to your classes on time.

The only way I can treat my insomnia is to let my brain do its thinking, let it work out all the anxieties, all the problems and insecurities that course through your mind all day everyday, and after an hour, if those thought fail to cease, try to focus on your breathing, in and out. Focus on the rise and fall of your chest, the feeling of the oxygen entering your lungs, then exiting. Breath in positive thoughts, exhale negative ones. It’s the only way I can gently and calmly fall asleep without the constant dread of excessive thoughts failing to let me sleep.

All you can do with insomnia is try your best to breathe, to let your brain do its thinking, and don’t stress about the lack of sleep you’re getting. Focus on the good and let go of the bad.

Back to the Future II’s predictions about 2015

When Marty McFly jumps to the future in “Back to the Future Part II,” the date on the Flux Capacitor is Oct. 21, 2015.

The date has finally come and gone and now we can answer the question, how closely did “Back to the Future II” predict the “future”?

Flux capacitor still. Graphic credit to CircleCinema.
Flux Capacitor still. Graphic credit to CircleCinema.

What they got wrong


Lawyers were abolished in the future, that led to a much faster justice system. Today, our justice system is still as slow as it was years ago, and lawyers are still here.

Jaws 19

We do live in a world of sequels and spin-offs and 3D is pretty prevalent. However, Jaws never made it past 5 movies.

Jaws 19 "Official Poster" from Back to the Future II. Graphic from Slashfilm.
Jaws 19 “Official Poster” from Back to the Future II. Graphic from Slashfilm.


In Back to the Future II, Marty is fired from his job over fax, and fax machines are the preferred communication for businesses. Although some places still use fax machines, the idea that every household would be equipped with a fax machine was wrong.

What they got right

Plasma flat-screens

Plasma flat-screens are everywhere in Back to the Future Part II. TV watching was a popular hobby for teenagers, and a multi-screen experience was the norm. Although we don’t go to the extremes pictured in the movie.

Video chat

Right before Marty loses his job, he has a video chat with Needles and then his boss.

They may not have foreseen the internet, these video chats were remarkably close to Skype. In the film, these come with rolling info about the caller – names of children, hobbies, food preferences – which scroll along the bottom of the screen.

Realistic authentication

The scanning of eyes and fingerprints is used in the film to check people’s identities, just as it is today. In the movie, keys are replaced with thumbprint detectors. While not everyone’s door is fitted with a thumbprint reader, this technology is used by people every day.

Dead celebrities in CGI

At Café ’80s, a video screen pops up and CGI versions of President Ronald Reagan and Iranian Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini argue with each other. We now have commercials with deceased celebrities and even holograms that perform on stage.


Almost everyone in the film at some point dons a pair of high-tech specs with  cameras, magnification and access to some sort of unspecified database of information. These capabilities mimic Google Glass, even though their attempts were somewhat unsuccessful.

The movie also predicted the idea that people are physically present but mentally miles away due to technology.

Alternative fuel cars

Doc Brown fuels the time machine with garbage instead of gas. Although we don’t have cars that run on trash, we do have electric cars and alternative fuel vehicles.

What they almost got right

Flying cars

Flying cars do exist, but not to the extent of that in the movie, and not with the same maneuverability. Terrafugia unveiled a prototype several months ago, the Aeromobil 3.0, which they say could do more than 400 miles on one trip; these cars are not yet for sale.

The hoverboard

Although we don’t have the real thing, we have many things similar to hoverboards. A company called Hendo is working with Tony Hawk on a prototype. Hoverboard360 even graces our streets today, while Lexus is developing an actual hoverboard, Slide.

Hoverboards are real? Photo credit to Lexus.
Hoverboards are real? Photo credit to Lexus.


The film correctly anticipates an increased use of robot technology: petrol stations these days are pretty much computerized and non-military drones have recently experienced a surge in popularity.

We don’t have remote-control litter bins or dog walkers, and waiters have not been replaced by TV screens.

Rejuvenation clinic

Doc reports having many procedures at the Rejuvenation clinic, including a full blood transfusion, hair repair and replacement of spleen and colon – extending life-expectancy for another 40 years. Though elective cosmetic procedures are now common, the medical advances displayed in the movie are not.

Self-lacing shoes

Nike actually put down patent papers for self-lacing shoes that look almost exactly like Marty McFly’s in 2010 and has been refining them since. Nike’s Tinker Hatfield discussed them in January, and it has been rumored that they will be released later this year.

You soon can own your own pair of self-lacing shoes. Photo credit from ibtimes.com

Art and science: the world’s best couple?

Do art and science make a good couple? Graphic by Katie Gibson
Do art and science make a good couple? Graphic by Katie Gibson

Art has been one of the most efficient ways to learn about the cultures of the world. There isn’t an exact estimate on when humans began making art, but we have examples dating back to roughly 50,000 years.  From what we have gathered, prehistoric art was created to depict religious stories and rituals.. Creating statues for their gods and goddesses in hope it would provide them good fortune, fertility, food, etc.

5,500 years ago, the first known system of writing was developed by the Sumerians. This form of writing is known as cuneiform.  Somewhere in the fourth millennium BCE, the ancient Egyptians developed the world’s first writing system, which we all know today as hieroglyphs/hieroglyphics.  Each of these writing systems used little symbols and pictures to depict stories and historical events.


Which brings me to my point– art not only has been influencing the world historically, but also scientifically.

The reason we view some art and find it visually appealing, is because the artists took the time to create what they knew our brains would like biologically. When we see a cute little kitty, we think it is cute because their eyes are so much bigger in proportion to their heads. Imagine if we saw a cat with eyes the size of a rat’s eyes. They would probably be terrifying then.

When you view a work of a human who is represented as innocent, or perhaps devout, then maybe they would be represented with larger eyes to show their purity.

Art could also walk hand in hand with psychology. In art, there is this principle called line. It can be an actual, visual line that we see, or an implied line that our brain fills in. In psychology, we call what art calls implied line, closure.  Closure is where our brain will see a cut out figure, but then fill in the gaps to create a new image. There are many other examples of how the two tie together, such as how sometimes our brain recognizes one image, and then another although it is just one image made up of many other images. In art that would most likely be known as illusion. Our brain likes to play tricks on us, and artists know exactly how to create compositions to do just that.


There is a video by a youtuber under the name Vsauce, who talks and describes in a video titled  “Messages for the Future” just how we use art and science to potentially inform other lifeforms. In this video, Michael Stevens tells us about how there are these satellites launched up into space, some in orbit within our solar system, others, interstellar. Some have records with images of earth and earthlings. There is one, that has these plaques on it with images of what the typical human being looks like and messages written on them in binary code, in hopes that if someday, extra terrestrial beings were to discover them, they would be intelligent enough to decipher it. One satellite even has a record with a recordings of songs, human voices, animals and even a message from former president Jimmy Carter.

This record also contains 116 images, as well as the directions encrypted on the back. Stevens not only explains this, but also other ideas of how we could potentially reach out to other life, so be it. If interested, please check out the video, it is extremely informing and enlightening, and also shows how today, we still refer back to that ancient way of art, to document our existence.

Should I drop out?

Through the semester, many students question what they’re doing at college in the first place. Some are there simply because they didn’t feel that they had a choice. Throughout my personal school career, it was always hammered into my skull that right after high school, I’d have to go to college, and then I could get a job. For some reason, I was made to believe that without a college education, I was basically a bum; I’d go nowhere in life and be stuck with a telemarketing career.

“Through the semester, many students question what they’re doing at college in the first place.”

Although, college isn’t advertised the same way to every student, it makes you think. We are in fact allowed to question whether or not college is right for each of us, and our interests. We don’t have to just throw ourselves into it immediately, just because it seems to be the next logical course of action.

If the topic of “taking a year off” is ever brought up, people pounce. “If you take a whole year off, there’s no way you will go back to school,” some declare. It seems a bit unfair that you’ve been in school twelve or so years and then are looked down upon if you need a break. Whether it’s because of a financial reason or just needing time to adjust to new responsibilities, taking a year off isn’t going to hurt when you really need it.


Being in the same grade as your peers is also a motivator to keep taking courses at a certain rate, which are usually about five classes per semester. However, it may not always be best for you. Everyone has their own limit to how much they can multitask. If you need to only take three classes at a time, in order for you to get the A’s you want, fine. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Do what’s right for you!

The point is, do what’s best for you and your sanity. If you do some research your future career, find out every thing you can about it. In the end, if you find that you don’t need a degree to get this job and you hate school with a passion, then drop out. Don’t make yourself miserable just to please others. Find out how you can best serve you.

Snake armed robot

OC Robotics, a company from the United Kingdom, are developers of a robotic snake-like arm that looks like something from Spiderman.

This robotic snake is built to be able to reach into spaces too difficult and dangerous for human arms to reach. Its UK inventors claim that it can reach the unreachable. The robotic arm has been in development since 2001. Since then the company has worked on perfecting their snake robot.

Photo from ocrobotics.com

This robot has garnered a lot of interest from companies in the industrial sector. Specifically, the robot has gained interest from companies in the nuclear sector who see this robot as an alternative to risking the lives of their employees.

The main challenge the company has faced for their robotic snake is how to power it. The movement of the snake makes it hard to develop a means of effectively managing its movement and power consumption. The company came up with a solution modeling its movement after the human body. The human body has large muscles that drive the movement of limbs. These muscles are connected to the limbs through a series of ligaments. In this case, the muscles have been replaced by actuators and the ligaments by wire cables.

Another major difference between the snake robot arm and a human arm is that the inner core of the snake robot is hollow. This allows the arms not only to be tools, but also to deliver tools. Specific tools have to be developed for the snake robot, but OC Robotics has so far only developed a handful of tools that fit. These tools are a camera, lighting system, tack welder, cutter and cleaning gear.

The robot is controlled on site by a human operator. The operator needs nothing more than a computer screen and a game pad to control the robot and put it through its paces.

Photo from ocrobotics.com.

OC Robotics even offers a simulator download all users need. Once the program is installed on a USB Xbox 360 controller, they are set to become operators of the snake robot. The company allowing the public to try out their robot via simulator is a smart move, as it allows potential buyers to get a feel for the product before they buy it.

While this robot looks like something from Doc Ock’s arsenal, it has the potential to help save hundreds of lives. Such a robot could easily reach around the debris caused by an earthquake, either moving it out of the way or tripping a fail-safe inaccessible to humans, making it perfect for nuclear facilities. This robot’s flexibility and versatility also make it perfect for disaster zones, allowing it to look under and around objects that would normally restrict a searcher’s view. This robot has a great deal of potential. It will be interesting to see where and how it’s utilized in the future.

Futuristic and feel-good, but a bit cliché

Photo from Creative Commons.

“Real Steel,” directed by Shawn Levy, hit theaters nationwide on Oct. 7 and made $27 million in its opening weekend. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, this film is an action thriller that’s fun for all ages.

Set in the year 2020, this film follows Charlie Kenton, played by Hugh Jackman, a boxer who was forced into retirement after professional boxing eradicated humans and evolved into robot boxing. Robot boxing became the new favorite of boxing audiences because there was more action, and each fight can potentially be a fight to the death, something that human boxing never had.

The film begins with Charlie, who is in major debt after making too many large bets in fights too big for his robots to handle. In the film, Charlie destroys two heavy-hitting and expensive robots after betting money on fights where he is the obvious underdog. Soon, Charlie learns that his old girlfriend passed away and his son, a witty 11-year-old boy he hasn’t seen since his birth, is now under his watch, unless he signs custody over to the boy’s aunt and her wealthy husband.

Screenshot from the movie "Real Steel." Photo from Creative Commons.

After an especially difficult fight, where Kenton loses his $45,000 fighting robot, Kenton and his son Max, played by Dakota Goyo, break into an old robot junkyard looking for spare robot parts. This is where Max finds Atom, an older generation of fighting robots with a rare shadow function. Max spends the night digging Atom out of the muddy junkyard, fixing him, powering him up and cleaning him. By the next day, Max has big dreams for the little robot. Against Kenton’s advice, Max chooses to enter Atom in a fight and the robot from the junkyard starts his journey to becoming the most famous robot in the world of robot boxing.

This movie is a feel-good film all around. The relationship between Charlie and Max is a struggle throughout the entire movie because both characters are bold and stubborn, but in the end it ends up being a story of father-son redemption. They may butt heads a lot, but there are also a lot of heartwarming moments between the duo that give the audience hope for the two and their little robot that could — well, could take a punch, that is. However, this movie would be nothing without Max, the kid who never gave up. Though cliché, as many would claim this film is, his faith gives the audience faith.

Screenshot from the movie "Real Steel." Photo from Creative Commons.

The technological aspect of this movie is very impressive as well; it isn’t overly futuristic which is a nice break from the recent film fads. There are just enough details to make it feel like it’s in the future, but there’s also enough present material to make the movie relatable so no one gets lost in the technology. The script and premise may be a little corny, but the fight scenes are fantastic.

This film is like a mixture of “Transformers” and “Rocky.” Though the sports-underdog plot is somewhat cliched, overall, “Real Steel” is a pretty good movie.

Rating: 4.5/5

E-Tracer tracing the future

Photo from Creative Commons

The X-Prize foundation has been around since 2004, and until recent years it has been purely focused on aerospace research. In 2006, the X-Prize foundation spread out to include not only aerospace innovation, but innovation for cars. This year’s competition was held early in September and saw the most competitors to date in the various vehicle classes for automobiles.

One of this year’s winners was the E-Tracer, a motorcycle-like vehicle looking very similar to the “Tron” light cycles. The one major difference between it and its movie double is that the E-Tracer has more space. The E-Tracer runs purely on battery power. Per each charge the E-Tracer gets more than a 100 miles, putting it well and beyond what is currently on the market. The E-Tracer is truly innovative in the features that it provides its owners. Since the bike is enclosed, it comes with self stabilizing wheels that drop down when the bike comes to a stop, preventing it from tipping over at lights. The body of the E-Tracer is made of Kevlar, allowing for the E-Tracer to not only have a lighter body, but one stronger than most standard vehicles, ensuring the safety of its occupants.

The E-Tracer is one of the few vehicles in the competition that is already street legal and ready to go. Part of why the E-Tracer is so close to ready production is the AC drive system built into the machine. It is from a third party company who develops AC drive systems for electric cars, giving them a decent advantage over smaller innovators who don’t have the capital to experiment and create ready-to-produce battery powered vehicles.

This is just an example of one of the many new electric driven or high efficiency gas vehicles that were revealed at the Progressive insurance sponsored event. The E-Tracer was one of the top winners, raking in $2.5 million coming in third to car #98 from Edison2 and the other side-by-side vehicle Li-ion. The E-Tracer is getting most of the attention, even if it was only third in the overall competition. The reason for all the attention of the E-Tracer is it is one of the few vehicles that could piratically be mass produced in the next couple of years. It also was one of the few vehicles that truly pushed the spirit of innovation.

The Progressive Insurance sponsored event is truly innovative. It encourages not only companies and corporations to take the risk to produce cars and vehicles to improve the future, but it also provides media coverage for companies even if they don’t win. The media coverage is a definite boon for small companies allowing them to get attention that they deserve and perhaps some of that attention would in turn become funding.

Move To Recharge Your Portable Life

Aaron Lexis may very well be on the fore front of green energy. While this is probably not a name you think of or have even heard, it is one you may become familiar with. He is the inventor of the personal energy generator (PEG). While this gadget won’t power your homes in the foreseeable future, it will power things that to some people are just as important: their mobile devices.

This device is nine inches long and has a one inch diameter. The central part of the PEG has a 1.5 inch diameter. While the device is a bit on the big size, it is still portable. PEG works on the Michale Faraday’s principle if magnetic induction. Inside the cylinder there are magnets, and as you walk they pass coils of wires which induces an electrical charge. What makes PEG work so well is a set of springs inside which limit the wasted kinetic energy, getting the most out of it possible. According to Lexis’ website for his startup company, Tremont Electronics, in roughly an hour for most electronic devices it is possible to charge up to 8o precent of battery. The figure is based on the person walking for that entire hour.

With interchangeable cords it is possible to charge, 90 precent of all electronic devices, such as cameras, mp3 players and cell phones, just to name a few. There is an assortment of armbands and belt clips in the work to make it more convenient to charge your devices on the go.

The PEG is pretty much ideal for those who can’t be separated from their devices. Just imagine how useful such a device would be on a camping trip where outlets are few and far between and the majority of time is spent moving around as it is. Keep one stowed away in the car. The battery goes dead in your car and your phone, well no problem. Maybe one just wants to lesson their carbon foot print and exercise there is no better way to do both at once. And if you are feeling extremely environmentally conscious you will be glad to hear just about every part of the device is recyclable. The device itself is constructed out of recycled materials, making it a clean device all around.

Tremont Electronics plans to have the device ready to pre-order and ship in time for the Holiday season, but with a price tag of $149 it’s definitely not the cheapest gadget. However it is though among the most environmentally portable chargers out there, lacking the usual internal battery. In many ways this makes it more ideal; no need to worry about having a charge when you are the one making it. While this device might not make it to the mainstream for quite sometime, there is already talk of shrinking down the PEG and having it pre-built into future mobile devices.

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