Extended Senses & Invisible Fences

machine perception, AI, machine readable, humanities, Cities, cities, technolgy, urbanism, urban, An

Amidst the swirling maelstrom of technological progress so often heralded as the imminent salvation to all our ills, it can be necessary to remind ourselves that humanity sits at the center, not technology. And yet, we extrude these tools so effortlessly as if secreted by some glandular Technos expressed from deep within our genetic code. It’s difficult to separate us from our creations but it’s imperative that we examine this odd relationship as we engineer more autonomy, sensitivity, and cognition into the machines we bring into this world. The social environment, typified by the contemporary urban landscape, is evolving to include non-human actors that routinely engage with us, examining our behaviors, mediating our relationships, and assigning or revoking our rights. It is this evolving human-machine socialization that I wish to consider.

http://www.urbeingrecorded.com/news/2012/06/27/extended-senses-invisible-fences/

The LIBOR scandal: The rotten heart of finance

crime, scandal, finance, globalism, UK, barclays, GFC, banking, theft, economic collapse, libor

What may still seem to many to be a parochial affair involving Barclays, a 300-year-old British bank, rigging an obscure number, is beginning to assume global significance. The number that the traders were toying with determines the prices that people and corporations around the world pay for loans or receive for their savings. It is used as a benchmark to set payments on about $800 trillion-worth of financial instruments, ranging from complex interest-rate derivatives to simple mortgages. The number determines the global flow of billions of dollars each year. Yet it turns out to have been flawed.

http://www.economist.com/node/21558281?fsrc=scn/rd_ec/the_rotten_heart_of_finance

Evidence of a US judicial vendetta against WikiLeaks activists mounts

surveillance, 10GJ3793, USA, iceland, wikileaks, Birgitta Jónsdóttir

Most of us who expose an inconvenient truth know that we will be attacked for it and ridiculed. And every trick in the book of maintaining power will be applied to silence us. It’s no big deal. The beauty of it is that, usually, these attempts gives us a chance to see the actual face of power and to understand, with real-time examples, how healthy or unhealthy our democracies have become.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/03/evidence-us-judicial-vendetta-wikileaks-activists-mounts

Pallets: The single most important object in the global economy

transport logistics pallets shipping containers globalization economics

Pallets, of course, are merely one cog in the global machine for moving things. But while shipping containers, for instance, have had their due, in Marc Levinson’s surprisingly illustrative book The Box (“the container made shipping cheap, and by doing so changed the shape of the world economy”), pallets rest outside of our imagination, regarded as scrap wood sitting outside grocery stores or holding massive jars of olives at Costco. As one German article, translated via Google, put it: “How exciting can such a pile of boards be?”

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/transport/2012/08/pallets_the_single_most_important_object_in_the_global_economy_.single.html

On-chip quantum phonodynamics

arxiv quantum computing phonons phononic QED phonodynamics

Sound can be just as quantum as light. But our toolbox for single quanta of sound, i.e. phonons, is currently insufficient. Here we describe a new component that enables a chip-based, solid-state analogue of cavity-QED utilizing acoustic phonons instead of photons, phonitons instead of polaritons. We show how long-lived and tunable acceptor (hole) impurity states in silicon nanomechanical cavities can play the role of a matter non-linearity for coherent phonons just as, for example, the Josephson qubit plays in circuit-QED. This system enables the control of single phonons and phonon-phonon interactions, dispersive phonon readout of the acceptor qubit, and compatibility with other nano/optomechanical components such as phonon-photon translators. Phonons, due to their unique properties, enable new opportunities for quantum devices and physics.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1208.1776

The Bodélé depression: a single spot in the Sahara that provides most of the mineral dust to the Amazon forest

dust sahara amazon environment fertilizer

About 40 million tons of dust are transported annually from the Sahara to the Amazon basin. Saharan dust has been proposed to be the main mineral source that fertilizes the Amazon basin, generating a dependence of the health and productivity of the rain forest on dust supply from the Sahara. Here we show that about half of the annual dust supply to the Amazon basin is emitted from a single source: the Bodélé depression located northeast of Lake Chad, approximately 0.5% of the size of the Amazon or 0.2% of the Sahara. Placed in a narrow path between two mountain chains that direct and accelerate the surface winds over the depression, the Bodélé emits dust on 40% of the winter days, averaging more than 0.7 million tons of dust per day.

http://iopscience.iop.org/1748–9326/1/1/014005/fulltext/

Kirkyan

spime, programmable matter, IoT, blogject, blobject, data, network, neologism

Kirkyan is a currently-theoretical “Thing” (PDF) related to both blogject (early example here by originator of the kirkyan concept) and spime. At the core, the concept revolves around the idea that the same data used to create a physical spime can be used to also create a virtual spime, and that the two can then be connected via the same ubiquitous computing network. Where spimes have a number of predefined limitations (e.g. “Cradle-to-cradle” life-spans), a kirkyan is inherently redundant and thus has additional capabilities. Furthermore, while the physical and the virtual are related and in constant networked contact, they are, to a significant degree, autonomous.

http://www.rebang.com/csven/Kirkyan.htm

“We shall not go any further into the nature of this oracle apart from saying that it cannot be a machine,” Turing explained (or…

““We shall not go any further into the nature of this oracle apart from saying that it cannot be a machine,” Turing explained (or did not explain). “With the help of the oracle we could form a new kind of machine (call them O-machines).” Turing showed that undecidable statements, resistant to the assistance of an external oracle, could still be constructed, and the Entscheidungsproblem would remain unsolved. The Universal Turing Machine of 1936 gets all the attention, but Turing’s O-machines of 1939 may be closer to the way intelligence (real and artificial) works: logical sequences are followed for a certain number of steps, with intuition bridging the intervening gaps.”

Dyson, George. Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe. New York: Pantheon Books, 2012. (viacarvalhais)

Beyond Meat

food science food-science fake-meat meat-substitute

Brown got into fake meat after working in the clean-energy business. He says he loves the taste of meat, but his childhood on a family farm convinced him to refrain from killing animals, and he’s been vegan for many years. In 2009, he met Fu-Hung Hsieh and Harold Huff, food scientists at the University of Missouri who’d been working to create a meat substitute for more than a decade. The three formed a company, and they’ve been working to build the perfect fake meat ever since.

http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2012/07/beyond_meat_fake_chicken_that_tastes_so_real_it_will_freak_you_out_.single.html

“The ENIAC itself, strangely, was a very personal computer,” remembers mathematician Harry Reed, who arrived at Aberdeen in…

“The ENIAC itself, strangely, was a very personal computer,” remembers mathematician Harry Reed, who arrived at Aberdeen in 1950. “Now we think of a personal computer as one which you carry around with you. The ENIAC was actually one that you kind of lived inside.”

Dyson, George. Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe. New York: Pantheon Books, 2012. (viacarvalhais)

Why Crunch Modes Doesn’t Work: Six Lessons

work, 40 hour week, 35 hour week, 60 hour week, crunch, productivity, ford, overtime, 4 hour

More than a century of studies show that long-term useful worker output is maximized near a five-day, 40-hour workweek. Productivity drops immediately upon starting overtime and continues to drop until, at approximately eight 60-hour weeks, the total work done is the same as what would have been done in eight 40-hour weeks. In the short term, working over 21 hours continuously is equivalent to being legally drunk. Longer periods of continuous work drastically reduce cognitive function and increase the chance of catastrophic error. In both the short- and long-term, reducing sleep hours as little as one hour nightly can result in a severe decrease in cognitive ability, sometimes without workers perceiving the decrease.

http://www.igda.org/why-crunch-modes-doesnt-work-six-lessons

Evaluating a 1981 temperature projection

science climatechange climate-science projection climate

To conclude, a projection from 1981 for rising temperatures in a major science journal, at a time that the temperature rise was not yet obvious in the observations, has been found to agree well with the observations since then, underestimating the observed trend by about 30%, and easily beating naive predictions of no-change or a linear continuation of trends. It is also a nice example of a statement based on theory that could be falsified and up to now has withstood the test. The “global warming hypothesis” has been developed according to the principles of sound science.

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/04/evaluating-a–1981-temperature-projection/#bib_1

Science begins with something called a null hypothesis. Although statisticians mean something very specific about this (having…

“Science begins with something called a null hypothesis. Although statisticians mean something very specific about this (having to do with comparing different sets of data), I am using the term null hypothesis in its more general sense: the hypothesis under investigation is not true, or null, until proven otherwise.”

Shermer, Michael. The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies — How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. New York: Times Books, 2011. (viacarvalhais)