Looming disasters, and other tech predictions, for 2014
ITNews | Posted: 26 Dec 2013, 10:32
More than most years, 2013 might be remembered for some ominous predictions of doom for the earth and its inhabitants.
The threat of solar storms received much attention from prognosticators, as did abrupt climate change -- the earth's atmosphere passed the 400 parts per million in carbon dioxide mark in 2013.
Also, life extension became part of the tech discussion in 2013 and promises to become more of one in the years ahead.
High-speed machine-to-machine trading, long a topic, is gaining ever more attention as transactions near the speed of light.
Some of the biggest (and smallest) predictions for next year and beyond follow.
The end of the power grid
The National Intelligence Council, in its Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds report, released this year, said geomagnetic storms "pose substantial threat" to electronics and the power grid.
This was a big year for warnings about solar storms. The last "solar super-storm," occurred in 1859, and the next one has a good chance of arriving within your lifetime.
In 1989, a solar storm knocked out the Quebec power grid, impacting 6 million customers.
Historical records suggest a return period of 50 years for Quebec-level storms and 150 years for very extreme storms, such as the 1859 so-called Carrington Event, according to a report by insurer Lloyd's earlier this year.
Scientists at the Idaho National Laboratory recently demonstrated in tests that "geomagnetic disturbances have the power to disrupt and possibly destroy electrical transformers, the backbone of our nation's utility grid."
Extreme solar events are memorable, even without electronics. In 1859 Mother Nature "lit up its own chandelier in order, as it might be, to reveal the wickedness going on at the dead hour of night," The Memphis Daily wrote after brilliant lights in the nighttime sky, flashes, and red glows startled the city.
It prompted the fire department to muster on the mistaken belief that there was a large fire.
Things that may go boom next year
"Bitcoin will explode. KABOOM!" predicts Rob Banagale, CEO and co-founder, Gilph, Inc., a messaging security provider, via the National Venture Capital Association.
"OpenStack will implode," said Jason Bloomberg, author Agile Architecture Revolution, in his 2014 predictions at ZapThink. "It will succumb to a kind of innovation paralysis," he said.
In 2013, scientists confirmed the existence of the largest volcano on the planet, and among the largest in the solar system. Tamu Massif is in Northwest Pacific Ocean and is as large as the state of New Mexico. It is, fortunately, inactive.
Google thinks about life extension, as did Edison
In 2013, Google created a new company, Calico, to focus on health and well-being. "OK ... so you're probably thinking wow," wrote Google, co-founder Larry Page, one of Google's co-founders, about the company. Time's cover story looked at the effort this way: Can Google Solve Death?
Thomas Edison figured out how to live a long life well before Google. In a 1914 interview with The Day Book, Edison outlined a disciplined lifestyle.
Edison, then 67, said he slept about five and half hours a night, though for years he had only slept four. Mrs. Edison, he explained, wouldn't permit him to work all night any more. His daily diet didn't exceed a pound and a half of food. He smoked cigars and chewed tobacco, but avoided cigarettes. He read 118 scientific and trade periodicals and five daily newspapers.
"I read four lines at once," said Edison. "They should teach that kind of reading in the public schools."
Edison lived until the age of 84. The life expectancy for a man in 1914 was 52.
Too fast and too big for humans?
There have been ongoing warnings that machine-to-machine trading could one day disrupt financial markets.
A recent paper published in Nature, "Abrupt rise of new machine ecology beyond human response time," argued that humans are losing the ability to intervene in machine actions in real time. New systems, it said, are reducing "communication and computational operating times down to several orders of magnitude below human response times - toward the physical limits of the speed of light."
The paper also pointed out that a new dedicated transatlantic cable is being built "just to shave 5 milliseconds off transatlantic communications times between U.S. and U.K traders."
"Speed may exacerbate problems, but there is no definitive evidence that it is the problem," said Michael Piwowar, a U.S. Securities and Exchange commissioner this month in a speech in London. "Moreover, we should not reject the possibility that speed may actually help mitigate problems once they begin."
Abrupt climate change warnings
In May of 2013 "the average daily level of carbon dioxide in the air had reached a concentration above 400 parts per million--a level that hasn't been seen since around 3 to 5 million years ago, well before humans roamed the Earth," reported NASA.
Scientist say that the climate record shows evidence of abrupt climate change, measured in a period of years to decades. In a National Academies report this year, "Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change: Anticipating Surprises," scientists recommend creation of a global early warning system to alert mankind to changes.
Company is kicking off a limited preview of a new Azure cloud service for managing and analyzing data from Internet of Things devices and sensors.
Motorola Solutions Inc. is shedding another part of its identity with a deal to sell its enterprise business unit to Zebra Technologies Inc. for $3.45 billion in cash and debt.
If you're a broadband provider like Sky or TalkTalk, one of the only ways you can get around using BT's infrastructure is to build your own.
Wi-Fi in the sky is taking off, promising much better connections for travelers and a bonanza for the companies that sell the systems.
China's optical fiber and cable leader Hengtong Group was invited to the exhibition, and then the company showed its global leading cable end-to-end one-stop solutions at CeBIT 2014.
The 14th FIBER OPTICS EXPO (FOE 2014) - Asia's leading exhibition & conference for optical communications is about to kick off at Tokyo Big Sight, Japan starting from April 16 to 18.
T-Mobile US Inc said on Monday it would stop charging penalties for customers who go over their data plan limits and launched an online petition calling for rival carriers to do the same.
Facebook Inc is preparing to join the mobile-payments race with remittances and electronic-money services on the social network, the Financial Times reported on Sunday, citing several people involved in the process.
Sino Market Research Ltd's first market report on Chinese 4G handsets shows Apple’s market share at 58.7 percent in the first two months of 2014. Korean technology giant Samsung took 26.4 percent during the period, making it second in the market.
A new 3-year deal has been signed between Shepway District Council in Kent (England) and Maidstone-based Custodian Data Centre that will make Internet data speeds of up to 100Mbps available to businesses in the district’s main employment sites.
In the rush to take advantage of cloud's benefits, businesses must properly manage the risks of handing over data, systems, and infrastructure to a third-party.
China's smartphone darling Xiaomi has revealed ambitious expansion plans that will see the Beijing-based firm launch across Asia and Latin America.
On April 13, Zonergy Company Limited cloud computing data center started construction in Hutubi County, Sinkiang, China, with a RMB 20 billion total investment.
Country's Ministry of Industry and IT plans to allow private companies to invest in the country's broadband market, as part of efforts to quicken the liberalization of the sector.
More than one-third of useful data that businesses will use is set be collected from the Internet of Things (IoT), according to a recent study by EMC.
OpenSSL is used in embedded devices and routers. Here's how Heartbleed could hit them.
Samsung's lead attorney cross-examined Apple's best witness, sparking some lively exchanges in court on Friday. Christopher Vellturo, an economist and Apple's expert witness on damages, testified Samsung owes $2.191 billion for infringing five patents.
Wireless carrier T-Mobile US is stepping up its 'Uncarrier' campaign in America with the introduction of a contract-free plan which discounts LTE tablets to the same cost as Wi-Fi models.
Kingsoft Cloud Group officially launches its full suite of cloud services including hosting, storage, and developer database, and hopes its links with security and smart devices will give the company a competitive advantage.
For the past few years, Cisco Systems and other telecom hardware firms have been successful at convincing US businesses, telecoms & government agencies to stay away from Huawei for fear of industrial and communications espionage by Chinese organizations and authorities.
Cisco Systems and Texas Instruments have announced separate efforts to expand partnerships serving the emerging Internet of Things.
Heartbleed is a catastrophic bug in OpenSSL, a software library of great significance, used by almost everyone (except Microsoft) for their SSL/TLS code.
The Wi-Fi Alliance announced Wednesday that users can now "tap-to-connect" to wireless networks using their smartphone or tablet via Wi-Fi Protected Setup — a way of accessing a network with the push of a button on the wireless router.
AT&T says it's in the final stages of negotiating a deal with cities in the North Carolina Triangle region to deploy its U-verse GigaPower gigabit fiber broadband service.
Jack Ma, founder and former CEO of China’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba, and Shi Yuzhu, the legendary internet entrepreneur and investor, recently poured $1.06 billion into WASU Media Holding, a digital television network operator and new media company, according to report.
Taiwan optical communication firm Browave General Manager Liao Deming recently claimed that the company will build the industry's first automatic production line for jumper wire in the second quarter of 2014.
One year ago, Shenzhen and Guangzhou undergraduates were the first to experience the fast speed of 4G. Now, the 4G "highway" has extended to every household. Guangdong province has fully embraced the 4G era.
Sichuan Huiyuan Optical Communication Co., Ltd. released its Annual Report 2013 on Wednesday. According to the report, the company earned RMB 412 million in 2013, which decreased 6% compared with the same period the year before last.
Word has it that the cable operator is working on a mobile service that will primarily rely on Wi-Fi to deliver voice, text messaging, and data services. When Wi-Fi isn’t available, the service will use spectrum from traditional cellular carriers.
The PowerApp BaaS back-end service is a step toward building a comprehensive platform which covers cloud computing, storage, database, and standard middleware services.
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