The Scientist reports on Health Booth 2020, a SMART card operated ATM-style kiosk that could eventually automatically take a blood sample and provide a diagnosis (and maybe even medication).
Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? In my short story, “Remotedoc“, I wrote about the possibility of a future where doctors might operate remotely with surgical robots. In the Aliens prequel, Prometheus, an automated surgical robot is depicted.
On Gamasutra (The Art & Business of Making Games), Benjamin Quintero blogs about the possibility of another crash in the video games market. As a classic video game designer and developer (1970’s-1990’s), I remember well the early’s 80’s. A few years of enormous growth in sales, and then the big crash.
If this is occurring again, or might in the near future, I feel for the game industry people who will suffer in the short term. In the long term, I hope that it will mean we can expect a new period of creativity in game design and an even greater variety of great games in the future.
I was quite pleased this week to discover that I made the top of the list in the Ole Miss Math Contest for Algebra this week. As a science fiction author, I like to practice my math skills. You never know when you might get an idea for a math-related short story, as I did with “Oddly Perfect” (about an encounter with a 4 dimensional being), published in The Fifth Di in 2012. At times, I also tutor students for the Math portion of the SAT exam.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has the Occupational Outlook Handbook online. This is a terrific source of information regarding the kinds of jobs that exist, pay levels, future growth, etc. It is a good base of data, though very dry, from which to begin a Career Counselor Series of games and/or interactive experiences.
This report today (“Robot Hedgehogs on a Martian Moon“) in Technology Review reminds me a bit of my award nominated short story, “A Comic on Phobos”, where bots work together to avert a disaster on Mars.
For a long time I’ve had this idea for a Career Counselor series of serious games. Think of it simply as analgous to the old Encyclopedia or in more modern times, Wikipedia, except just for types of jobs. There have always been books or data sources that contain large, comprehensive collections of job titles, job descriptions, job categories, etc. But what I haven’t seen, and I’d love to see, is a freely (or inexpensively) available collection of serious games for most, if not all, kinds of jobs.
Here’s an example. Say that a high school student (or college student) doesn’t have a clue what they would like to do for a living, or perhaps they know but they aren’t sure what it entails. While there are many options today, such as Wikipedia, counseling centers at schools, books on the subject, and intern positions at companies, there may also be games that simulate work in desired field. However, these are not necessarily (and often are not) serious games. To me, a serious game that teaches a students about a particular job must at least offer them: 1) comprehensive information about the job (or at least links to such information online and in books), 2) a fully interactive experience that includes application for the position, many aspects of the job (both postiive and negative), 3) a standardized (or at least common) method of determining if the student has the skills and/or desire to pursue this kind of work.
Ideally, there would also be a set of development tools which would make it easier for educators, career counselors, and game developers to get together and create this kind of collection of games or perhaps just to build into all work-related video games the “serious” part. One possibility is some form of combined Wiki + game play website.
I realize I’m talking off the top of my head, but I still think this idea has merit.
Several major websites sell books and offer ratings and prices. You can typically sort by relevance, ratings, price, and other factors, but I haven’t seen an ordering by price per rating.
For example, say one textbook sells for $80 and receives an average of 5 stars, but another similar textbook sells for $60 and receives an average of 3 stars. The more expensive book costs $80/5 = $16 per star, while the other book costs $60/3 = $20 per star. I still have to decide if the extra $4 per star is worth saving $20 overall, but at least this gives me another tool with which to decide my purchase. If a preview is offered, I may flip through a few pages and still decide the $60 book is good enough.
While there are examples of software engineers working together remotely (in different locations) — such as some video game and a small list of high technology startup companies — why don’t we see large computer-oriented companies taking advantage of their own technologies in order to employ qualified engineers (and other professionals) who may not want to relocate?
Google, Microsoft, Apple and other high technology firms with their R&D staffs concentrated in California and Washington still develop software mainly through a centralized workforce.
Cloud and Web services are the future. Wouldn’t that be a great way to put qualified engineers back to work around the country without requiring them to live in very expensive places or places they may not want to relocated to?
I realize I’m thinking off the top of my head, and this idea may be much more complex than my simplistic comment above. These companies and others may be prohibiting remote R&D work due to security, tax, sociological, and other business and/or political reasons. But wouldn’t it be in the interest of the governors of many of the states in America to work with these companies and others to figure out how remote R&D work could create jobs in the future?
GIF, Graphics Interchange Format, has been around since 1987, but more recently people have been using it as a verb, like GIFING. So it’s become the word of 2012! It beat out “Super PAC”, “Higgs Boson”, and Superstorm.
“A Penny For Your Thoughts” is in the print edition of “Beyond Centauri” (issue #36, April 2012). As of May 2014, I was no longer able to find this issue for sale, however you will be able to find this story in an upcoming release of my e-book “Science Fiction: Robots & Cyborgs 2”.
Author, Game Designer, Programmer, Tutor, Genealogist