Tag Archives: korea

Singular singularity thoughts

After a very interesting presentation by Dr. José Luis Cordeiro of Singularity University, I was left with a few interesting ideas about the coming accelerating technological and social progress.

  • Genetic testing is becoming faster and cheaper.  In 3 years full sequencing will only cost 100 bucks and take 5 days, with a huge impact in ancestry and medicine (think about genetically-tailored preventive medicine). Imagine 23andme going mass market.
  • We will go back to the moon, especially now that it is found that there’s water.
  • World relationships are changing. For thousands of years the important body of water was the Mediterranean, and until recently the Atlantic.  We are now entering the age of the Pacific.
  • Robot rights are already under discussion in Korea and Europe.
  • Economic, telecommunications and energy source evolution is accelerating.
  • The death of death: The Methuselah Foundation.
  • Nano, bio, info and cognitive sciences are converging. Everything is information.
  • Marvin Minsky (MIT): “Will robots inherit the earth? Yes, but they will be us!”
  • Transhumanism as a possibility, not only a science fiction conjecture.

The reactions to swine flu in Mexico (part II)

Roman Catholic masses were cancelled throughout the city, museums were closed and football matches were played behind close doors (my team, Chivas, tied) to avoid the creation of crowds.  People have been generally very calm from what I understand, stayed home and there is no panic shopping, but the streets are rather empty for a city of over 20 million people (some pictures here).  If you understand Spanish, a great chronicle of the past two days can be found here and here.  The city is not afraid, and people still make fun of the situation from time to time.

Video rentals and video stores were doing brisk business yesterday, and schools are closed until May 6th (May 1st and 5th are holidays anyway).  Military personnel have been handling masks around the city and now everybody is bracing themselves for tomorrow: will people go to work or will they home office (those who can)?

The Finnish media have complained about the slow Mexican response to the outbreak, but they seem to ignore that even the National University (UNAM) doesn’t have the equipment needed to distinguish this new virus from its old, previously known cousins and with the normal flu season just ending, there was no cause for concern.  On the other hand the World Health Organisation has praised the Mexican response.

There are confirmed cases in Mexico, the US, Canada and New Zealand, and suspected cases in France, Spain, UK & Israel (map here).  Deaths have only happened in Mexico, and even there two thirds of the 1200 cases have already been released from hospital.  According to some information in the Mexican media, vaccines don’t work, but antivirals such as Tamiflu do.  Airports haven’t been closed, but there is more stringent screening in Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan from passengers coming over from North America.

There are two different hypothesis of the origin of the virus: one points to it having started in a farm in Texas and then crossed over to the border, the other one points to farms in Perote, Veracruz, Mexico.  None has been confirmed.

If you want to know more in real time, you can follow @Veratect and @zolliker (in Spanish) on Twitter.

Henna “tattoos” and Asian tourists in Mexico

During my travels in Mexico I have found, surprisingly, many Chinese; Korean and Japanese tourists in the country and travel agencies specialising in catering to their tastes.  The diversification of the origin of tourists is very important for the prospects of the local tourism industry since most come from the United States and the weakness of the U.S. Dollar means an overseas vacation is not as enticing as it once was.

I have also found that henna body art has become fashionable in Mexico as well, as I found it advertised in Acapulco.

Mexicans are also part of globalisation, whether they want it or not.

Libro Recomendado: Cuentos Chinos

Andrés Oppenheimer otra vez saca un libro sobre actualidad latinoamericana altamente recomendable. Aunque en algunas cosas se nota un poco que fue escrito hace ya dos años, en general se trata de un libro que nos muestra qué es lo que han hecho los países que sí se han subido al tren de la globalización y el desarrollo y por qué Latinoamérica aún no ha hecho lo propio, con resultados mediocres.

Me quedo con tres reflexiones:

-Países como México o Argentina harían bien con seguir el ejemplo de Corea del Sur, que con un consenso político ha alcanzado niveles de desarrollo que ya quisiéramos nosotros con una tamaño de población similar.

-Sabía que Brasil se trata de posicionar como el líder de la región, pero no estaba enterado que por eso han empezado a referirse a la integración de Sudamérica en lugar de Latinoamérica (que incluiría a México, el único país que tal vez le haría sombra). Obviamente, las políticas de Tlatelolco tampoco han ayudado mucho en contrarrestar esta jugada de Itamaratí.

-El crecimiento actual de las economías argentina y brasileña, dependiente de los precios elevados de las materias primas, no es sustentable al largo plazo a menos a que decidan invertir esas ganancias en otros negocios. Si no, pregúntenle a México cuando iba a “administrar la abundancia” bajo la presidencia de López Portillo.