Weekend Coffee: Making the Blind See Again


As science marches on, the miraculous cures that past ages dreamed of are slowly becoming reality. We're gaining the ability to engineer new body parts, like windpipes and bladders, outside a person's body and successfully transplant them to replace a damaged or cancerous organ. Bionic exoskeletons to let paralyzed people walk again are becoming commercially available. And this month, the FDA approved the first artificial retina, designed to restore limited vision to people with certain kinds of … [Read more...]

Weekend Coffee: Bring on the Autonomous Cars!


In a previous post, I wrote about the extremely cool technology of 3D printers. Today I want to geek out about another imminent technological advance I'm even more personally excited for: the self-driving car.This technology is exactly what it sounds like: a robotic car that senses its environment with ultrasound, radar and computer vision, automatically avoiding obstacles, obeying signs and traffic signals and following GPS routes to a programmed destination. But the transformative … [Read more...]

Dispatches from Future America: Income Tax Brackets Become Hereditary

[Editor's Note: These mysterious messages seemingly always come in pairs, so after receiving the last one, I was expecting a counterpoint to arrive in my inbox soon. I wasn't disappointed, as you'll see. Like the previous one, it claims to hail from a future world, but a very different future world than the one its predecessor originated from.] WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 2, 2041) — Reporters from the world's top luxury news services were on hand today as U.S. President Targg Romney IV … [Read more...]

Dispatches from Future America: World Reaches Zero-Fossil-Fuel Milestone

[Editor's Note: It's happening again. I hadn't gotten any of these messages since last year, and I was starting to hope that the wormhole, or whatever strange conduit it was, had closed for good. But once again, in my inbox this morning, there it was: the same anonymous remailer, the same untraceable IP address, and yet another message presenting itself as a news dispatch from a possible future version of our world. Is it truly what it claims to be, and if so, how did it end up in this era? … [Read more...]

The Millennials: America’s Secular Future

I had a run-in with an old adversary lately, and after I've sent him on his way, I always feel compelled to point out some of the hopeful things he never mentions. This post is about one of those things. In recent posts, I've expressed my disillusionment with the Democrats. But whatever the current state of politics in America - and I'm not denying that it's depressing and infuriating by turns - the long-term trends look very good for us. One of the brightest of these trends is the rise in … [Read more...]

Will Life Extension Mean the End of Religion?

I've been thinking in speculative directions lately, and nothing is more speculative than the question of whether we'll one day be able to extend the human lifespan. The notion of living longer is certainly pleasant to contemplate personally, but I'm not convinced it would be positive for humanity as a whole. As I wrote in "Who Wants to Live Forever?", the invention of anti-aging therapy could be a disaster, if it freezes the human race's moral opinions exactly as they are now: imagine North … [Read more...]

Goodbye Religion? How Godlessness Is Increasing With Each New Generation

This essay was originally published on AlterNet.Something strange is happening to American teenagers. If you believe popular wisdom, young people are apathetic, cynical and jaded; or, they're supposed to be conformists whose overriding desire is to fit in and be popular. But if you've been paying close attention over the past decade, you might have seen any of a growing number of cases that conspicuously defy these stereotypes: stories of teenagers who have strong principles they're unashamed … [Read more...]

Dispatches from Future America: Nation Ratifies Reproductive Rights Amendment

[Editor's Note: The last dispatch I received in this ongoing series was particularly bleak. As if on cue, I got another message the other day, this one apparently originating from a very different, and much rosier, future. I get the strong impression that these two possible worlds are, in some manner, competing against each other.]JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI (August 6, 2037) — The Thirty-fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified today after passing the Mississippi state … [Read more...]

Dispatches from Future America: Government Increases Budget for Christiancare Program

[Editor's Note: After the two strange messages I received earlier this year, I thought the wormhole, or whatever it was, had closed forever. Evidently not. This past week, as fighting over the debt limit reached a fever pitch, I found a new e-mail from the future in my inbox. Elaborate hoax? Frightening warning of what lies ahead? You be the judge...]NEW YORK CITY (July 24, 2037) — Mayor Harold Ford Jr., along with a group of civic dignitaries, was on hand for the gala ribbon-cutting of … [Read more...]

Weekly Link Roundup

I noticed a few stories this week that I haven't had time to write more about, but wanted to mention briefly:• So-called "psychics" defraud their gullible customers out of thousands of dollars, usually through laughably obvious ploys in which they claim the client's money needs to be "cleansed". Can we please regulate these con artists already? Or should we even try - do the suckers deserve what they get?• And proving that corruption and hypocrisy crosses denominational lines, a … [Read more...]