Here in this catch-all posting, there will be a potpourri of treasures including some science below.
- I was interviewed on the BBC World Service regarding President Obama’s new space plan. See if you can find the podcast! (And somebody send in the link?)
- My longstanding push for more emphasis on citizen-involvement, in preparing for robust reaction to crises, is finally getting some traction. Apparently, my editorial suggesting a change in National Security priorities (to emphasize resilience, as a partner to anticipation) has gone viral, with hit rates up toward five figure in each of the last three months.
Moreover, some companies and groups have started their own endeavors to create the kinds of enabling technologies that can keep us agile and ready for an ever-changing tomorrow. Take for example “CiviGuard” which offers cell phone aps that allow location based govt-to-citizen alerts. Now to vastly expand this all the way to something that could unite the country, should even the worst happen.
In a measure of whether we are wise enough to support cogent/important art - I see that the magnificent - though under-rated - online graphic storyteller Patrick Farley has started a Kickstarter fundraiser; if he succeeds he figures he'll has enough support to try to make a go of resurrecting Electric Sheep as a paying proposition. Suggested donation is $2.00 . . . maximum $25. The donations don't actually happen unless the full $6,000 limit is reached. He's got ten days to go and needs to raise about $2,800. I highly recommend him and hope that folks will take part in reviving his career.
EMPOWERING THE CREATIVE ACT OF DISAGREEMENT
- As most of you may know, I consider “discourse” one of the core problems of our day. We desperately need to recall that our entire Enlightenment Experiment... and the American Branch, in particular... was based upon the notion of moderate/calm and rule-centered competition. Conflict is a fecund generator of creativity -- e.g. in markets, democracy, the arts and science -- but only if we find ways to keep it positive-sum. That-is, focused on finding whatever true things may lurk amid the morass of indignant opinion, and not on the “kill my enemies” emotion set that we inherit from the bad-old past.
In my novel EARTH (1989), I portray people using the internet (in our time) in ways that exclude differing views. A tech empowered reiteration of delusion. To combat this, I depicted hackers finding ways to expose folks to alternative points of view. Now comes a beta experiment from Intel -- Dispute Finder -- which will let you scan documents and sites and find places where someone credible out there disagrees with the statement in question.
It seems to be the embryo of a terrific and sophisticated and necessary tool. Though there are a myriad problems to solve, including aspects of reputation management, topic gisting, etc. Some folks give it a try and report back here?
Along related lines... Brian Douglas writes in to tout Morgan Spurlock's show, "30 Days" - “I discovered it on Netflix and he's essentially doing what you talked about in Evaluating Horizons about getting the reds and blues to walk in each others shoes. In each episode, Spurlock, or some other person or group of people, spend 30 days immersing themselves in a particular lifestyle with which they are unfamiliar (e.g. working for minimum wage, being in , a living as a etc.), while discussing related social issues.” Aye, it sounds wise... and hence something that will never run on the media channels - like Fox - where eyes need it most.
A BRIEF POLITICAL ASIDE... IN FAVOR OF ASSERTIVE WISDOM
Restoring the Office of Technology Assessment or OTA - and other independent advisory agencies - was one of my core suggestions, during and after the last election. No action proved the GOP’s commitment to Know-Nothing anti-sicence than their elimination of a nonpartisan technological advisory board. Hence, I heartily concur with efforts to restore funding to the agency and I urge anybody who cares about having a technologically savvy and well-informed Congress to learn more, and sign the petition on the bottom. ONE TRICK? The Republicans never disbanded the OTA. They simply zeroed out all funding. The Dems should respond by pre-funding the agency for 20 years.
BACK TO RESILIENCY
From Publishers Weekly re: Rebecca Solnit’s new book, A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster. ” Natural and man-made disasters can be utopias that showcase human solidarity and point the way to a freer society, according this stimulating contrarian study. Solnit (River of Shadows) reproves civil defense planners, media alarmists and Hollywood directors who insist that disasters produce terrified mobs prone to looting, murder and cannibalism unless controlled by armed force and government expertise. Surveying disasters from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, she shows that the typical response to calamity is spontaneous altruism, self-organization and mutual aid, with neighbors and strangers calmly rescuing, feeding and housing each other. Indeed, the main problem in such emergencies, she contends, is the elite panic of officials who clamp down with National Guardsmen and stifling regulations. Solnit falters when she generalizes her populist brief into an anarchist critique of everyday society that lapses into fuzzy what-ifs and uplifting volunteer testimonials. Still, this vivid book makes a compelling—and timely—case for the ability of ordinary people to collectively surmount the direst of challenges.” I’ve reviewed solnit before. A quirky, sometimes self-indulgent, but often wonderfully on-target author who has a knack of choosing fascinating topics.
- A movie based on Marvel Comics' "Thor" superhero character is now scheduled to be released some time around May of 2011. Marvel once threatened to sue me over the title of my (Hugo runner-up) novella "Thor Meets Captain America" which DC Comics later asked me to expand (with the great graphic artist Scott Hampton) into THE LIFE EATERS. Alas, DC printed maybe twenty copies, in America, though the graphic novel did very well overseas and came in third for the grand prize in France, where they adore such things. Only now, DC may have a second chance! They have, in hand, a GN that can leverage on any "Thor" hysteria, next spring. Oh, and it would be a great dig at Marvel, since my GN portrays Thor as the villain! ;-)
- See this! Remember, these guys have waged four wars and have nuclear weapons. Pompous and strange.... And yet the silliness seems rather dignified and cordial.
- See incredible footage of San Francisco, just days before the 1906 quake. The number of automobiles is staggering for 1906. The clock tower at the end of Market Street at the Embarcadero wharf is still there. And no traffic lights, no cross walks, no painted lanes, no road signs, no cell phones (!) AND NO RULES - yet folks seem to survive okay...!
- Some libertarians are starting to get it.
- The usual 3D technology uses a stereoscopic principle in which a slightly different image is presented to each eye, thanks to the special glasses the viewer has to wear. Now a device named pCubee gives you the experience of 3D without the need for the glasses. The pCubee consists of five LCD screens arranged as a cubic "fish tank" box that viewers can pick up, tilt, shake or turn to watch the 3D content or play games with virtual objects that seem to be within the box. Kind of like the alien artifact in my next novel!!
SCIENCE STUFF COURTESY OF RAY KURZWEIL
The brain can handle two tasks by distributing them between the two hemispheres of the brain, assuming it perceives a worthy reward for doing so, but with large dual-task costs.
A quantum random number generator called Quantis can produce truly random numbers.
A gold nanoelectrode that can extract one picoampere
(generated by photosynthesis) from algae cells.
A hand-held projector called Twinkle can now create virtual characters and objects that interact with the real world.
Researchers from around the world are gathering this week in San Jose, Calif., for the largest conference on psychedelic science held in the United States in four decades. Now that takes me back...
wow! 5 Axis Robot Carves Metal Like Butter (Video)
DARPA is starting a new program called "The Mind's Eye" to create an AI-based camera that can report back on war-zone activity with the same detail a trained human operative could offer.
GM Develops Augmented Reality Windshield
General Motors has unveiled a trio of concept electric "urban mobility vehicles" that are about one-sixth the size of a conventional car.
NASA's WISE mission has spotted 16 formerly hidden near-Earth objects with orbits close to Earth's. WISE is expected to discover as many as 1000 near-Earth objects, but astronomers estimate that the number of unknown objects with masses great enough to cause ground damage in an impact runs into the tens of thousands.
The real Avatar: ocean bacteria act as 'superorganism' .
Recognizr, an application that lets users point a smart phone at a stranger and immediately learn about them -- combining computer vision, cloud computing, facial recognition, social networking, and augmented reality ....
A midday 90-minute stage 2 non-REM sleep (takes place between deep sleep and the dream state known as Rapid Eye Movement or REM) period refreshes the mind and can make you smarter, UC Berkeley researchers have found.
IBM researchers have developed a system called Catchup, designed to summarize (verbally) in almost real time what has been said at a business meeting so newcomers can quickly catch up. It identifies the important words and phrases in an automatic speech recognition transcript and edits out the unimportant ones.
Turkish scientists have developed spray-on liquid glass that is transparent, non-toxic, and can protect virtually any surface against almost any damage from hazards such as water, UV radiation, dirt, heat, and bacterial infections, making cleaning products unnecessary. The invisible coating is also flexible and breathable.
Thrive on and fight for the Enlightenment.