Monday, May 25

#21 - entrance music

You notice one day that you're hearing music in your head. You aren't wearing headphones, and the sound isn't coming from a nearby radio or loudspeaker of any sort. The songs that are playing are mix of popular music and instrumental scores that seem to correspond with events of your day, almost as if your life now has a soundtrack.

You pay close attention to this new phenomenon during the next few days. Nobody else can hear the music, though it seems that sometimes others are left with the general impression of the song that is playing.

As weeks go by and you get used to the constant music, you find that you are often times able to queue specific songs just by thinking about it. You can even set up songs for later, though whatever is controlling the soundtrack takes care of the fading and the actual starting moment of your "requested" song (so that everything blends rather seamlessly).

A month later, you are set to give a keynote address at a relatively large convention. As you have spent a good amount of time preparing your presentation, you feel it would be a good opportunity to queue up a song for your entrance. What song would you choose to accompany your post-introduction walk to the lectern?

Sunday, May 17

#20 - street naming

Your town plans to create a new side street between a grouping of several large, abandoned lots. Once the street has been completed, the remaining land will be converted to smaller lots where additional homes will be built.

The city has decided to take nominations for the name of the new street. Every citizen has been invited to submit one suggestion, which should include the proposed name followed by a generic designation (lane, avenue, boulevard, etc). The city council will then select ten of these entries and a town-wide vote will be held to name the street, though the city reserves the right to select the official suffix.

The new street will be located near the edge of the town in a relatively quiet area. What should the street be called?

Monday, May 11

#19 - robotic uprising

You work at a large, thriving robotics lab. Your current project involves miniature diagnositc devices, small robots that can be inserted into a patient's body to check for disease or monitor a wide range of bodily functions. Your research is going well and your hope is that thousands of lives will be positively impacted by these robots if their design and use can be successfully implemented.

One night you have a very strange, disturbing dream. You are given a vision of the future, decades from today, in which robots have become self-aware and have naturally enslaved the human race.

You awake with an oppressive sense of dread, one that does not lift even days later. For reasons unexplained, you are certain that this future is likely (even unavoidable) if events continue uninterrupted, and that your current work is a pivotal factor. In your dream, the tiny diagnostic robots were instrumental in the robotic uprising, for they were able to gather precise and exhaustive information on human biology and its weaknesses.

You could easily think of ways to sabotage your project to prevent this scenario from coming to pass, but you would at the same time be setting back medical science and any other advances that could come about as a result of your work. You are wary of bringing up the topic of robotic self-awareness to others, sensing that it could damage your credibility, but your fears persist. What action, if any, do you take?

Sunday, May 3

#18 - the red planet

The time has come for the first manned mission to Mars. The trip is being headed up by NASA and will be made up of a crew of eight. You have been extended an invitation to join the mission as a "civilian astronaut". Beyond rudimentary tasks on the spacecraft, your main charge would be to record and document the goings-on of the mission.

So, a seat on the trip is yours if you want it, though the following items should be considered...

- You would need to participate in a rigorous five-month training program beforehand.
- Each leg of the trip will take six months.
- The hope is that the crew will stay on the surface of Mars exploring, running tests, and setting up the foundation of a colony for a total of around four to five months.

You are being given a rare opportunity, but taking all of these things into account (in addition to a relatively short debriefing period), it will require an extremely focused commitment of about two years. Once in transit, you will generally be able to communicate with the folks back on Earth via video conference once a week. Besides the isolation and cramped quarters, by accepting a spot you would be assuming the risks inherent to space travel and a trip to a distant planet.

Do you join the mission?