Cool and Crap Awards of the Week

At least two things happened in the world of science fiction and science in the past week. One of them was cool, and the other was crap.

Coolest way to get funding for time travel that takes you beyond the singularity: Paul Saffo, a renowned culture forecaster among technobiz types, has left his job at the Institute for the Future after twenty years because it wasn't futuristic enough. He told the San Jose Mercury News that the trouble with the IFTF was that he could only get funding for predictions about the next decade, whereas he's more interested in the next half-century. So he's setting up shop in Stanford University's engineering department, where (implicitly) there is funding for ideas about what might happen in 2050. So what are the issues that IFTF won't fund futurists to think about, but Stanford will? Number one is apparently that global warming isn't a good thing, and another is that sophisticated new prediction software might make "forecaster" a job that anyone could do. Click through to find out the crap on how your car is spying on you.

Crappiest new way the police or your mom can follow your every move without ever leaving the sofa: The groovy satellite navigation system in your car that tells you how to get to any address you type into it is also ratting you out. Most satnav systems keep records of every address you type into it, and the route you took to get there. If you sync it with your bluetooth phone, it also has records of phone calls and messages you've received. That's why police officers in the U.K. have started sucking data off the satnav systems of suspects to find out where they've been. Now the authorities can tail you without ever leaving their stations - and probably without getting a court's permission to follow you either. Plus, according to New Scientist, the hacks required to get this data off the satnav systems are widely known and can be used by anyone smart enough to look them up on various wikis or discussion boards. So your mom or your boyfriend could be snarfing up your location data too, checking to see whose house you're going to after work and where you go for lunch. That is seriously crap.