August 2000 Archives
Nexia Biotechnologies say they are on the verge of producing the protein that forms spiders' webs from the milk of specially bred goats. Spider silk is the strongest fibre known to man.
One of five robots funded by the Thailand Research Fund "is armed with a pistol that can be programmed to shoot automatically or wait for a fire order delivered with a password from anywhere through the Internet." If it didn't have a pistol a robot controlled via the Net would not be news, but it will be interesting to see if the concept develops into anything more commercial. (via Slashdot)
An illustration of the effects on people's lives of the increasing shortage of water in China. Poor harvests, demonstrations and an expanding desert that could reach Beijing in 35 years at current rates.
Wearable tech is slowly going mainstream. We've already had clothes designed to incorporate gadgets, and watches incorporating more and more functions unrelated to their original function. Now Levi's and Philips plan to jointly sell jackets containing mobile phones and MP3 players. (via Robot Wisdom)
We often hear about the increasing mobility of populations, and the numbers of people on the move (refugees, immigrants, etc) is increasing. This Disinfo article talks about campaigners focussing on borders and the treatment of illegal immigrants. As ever, a big collection of links on the topic, such as Kein Mensch ist Illegal. Nettime also had some posts on the topic recently: A report from a camp on the Ukrainian-Slovakian-Polish border and details of a future event in Tijuana (and longer, in Spanish).
Biscayne National Park (Florida, USA) is to establish a "soundscape preservation plan," the first of its kind. So far it appears to be a study of the non-natural environmental sounds, rather than any restrictions, so it's not yet up to the levels wanted by Gordon Hempton's "One Square Inch of Silence" campaign. As human-made environmental noises become increasingly unavoidable maybe there will be a higher demand for true silence.
A strange but fascinating site. It purports to be "a selection of material initially prepared for the catalogue of the Great Daytopia Exhibition scheduled for 2296 but abandoned early in 2295 after funding was withdrawn." Art, architecture, social customs, education, political movements... all very peculiar. (via Mike's Weblog)
Progressive Insurance is offering drivers in Texas, USA, lower insurance costs if they allow their driving habits to be monitored by GPS. If the car is used less often, and at quieter times of the day, the monthly insurance bill can be lower. This is interesting not so much for the technology but the fact people are willing to allow their everyday movements to be tracked in exchange for saving money.
Four scenarios from a report called 'Work in the Knowledge Driven Economy' produced by the Department of Trade and Industry. However, of the four, only the most optimistic two were presented to ministers and these are almost polar opposites: one where the economy has a large number of small companies and self-employed workers, the other where large companies dominate.