Tesla Motors, Autopilot Cars, You, Me, and Them

 

For starters, if you want to find out more about Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, head over to the TED Talk for a recent interview. Otherwise, stand back to witness the future unfold before your very eyes.

 

I hear you from all the way over here in my blog cave.  You’re saying, “Hah! Auto-piloted cars will never work.” And that’s what they said about toilet paper, airplanes, cordless phones (not to mention cell phones), and anything else that wasn’t here until it was.

 

The really cool part is that the visionaries that define these types of futures are “scientists” (or at least champions of the scientific method)  and dreamers all rolled into one. The Wright Brothers come to mind. Benjamin Franklin. Steve Jobs. Bill Gates. John Lasseter of Pixar.  (Is he a scientist or just a dreamer?)

 

Medical scientists do not radiate the pizazz of an electric car or a cell phone or an airplane, but they are visionaries all the same.  Example: People rarely die of infections any more thanks to Sir Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin back in 1928.  His claim to fame was that he paused to consider a fuzzy Petri dish on a vacation-neglected workbench. Visionary indeed.

 

Thank goodness we still have these folks in our midst. We are lucky to have people that believe they can do what they set out to do, and that they don’t give up.

I like to believe that you and I have the vision to stay out of their way.

IBM makes a movie!

Did you read that IBM has made a movie? It’s called “A Boy and His Atom” and it’s a 90-second tribute to science, creativity,  and (re)invention. IBM was the lumbering pachyderm star from the book Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance by Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. written over eleven years ago now. The book was a testament to the fact that people and companies can change, even if they’re big and slow.

So what’s best about the movie? It doesn’t really have a lot to do with computing, but rather to do with science, trying something new, and putting it out into the world. Because they can.

So put something creative out into the world. Because you can.

I will if you will.

Artificial Body Parts: My RACE TO DIE

 From the front page of the WSJ today, March 23, 2013, I was jolted into a sense of my own immortality. The title:Science Fiction Comes Alive As Researchers Grow Organs in Lab.” While most people would think this an exciting advancement, it scares the holy crap out of me.

It’s not because of the science fiction of it, Frankenstein notwithstanding, nor because I am afraid of having some test-tube heart or ear or liver. No. My fear is living too gosh darn long. My mom, God bless her, is 101, and wishes (because she is still very bright, sharp, and beats me at dominoes) with her nightly “Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep” prayer, to die. She’s tired of living.

It’s now a race. Can I make it out of this world by age ninety or so, or do I have to stay trapped in a rebuilt million-dollar body until I’m 110 or even more? What is going to kill us? If I have a one million dollar heart, what about my 50¢ brain? Can they grow more brain cells? If so, then who will pay for all of this? We know the birth rate in this country is declining to an alarming and destructive rate, so that our new workforce is dwindling, and thus fewer young people are paying less into social security. Result: we will not be able to sustain ourselves.  Where does this leave the government? Where does this leave medicine? Where does this leave me?

I would like to trust that someone will save the day. Steve Jobs is gone. Until then, I will race to my death to beat the scientists that would like me to have a new heart after I’m 90.  Or perhaps by that time, we’ll have an app for living without a brain.