Thursday, December 31, 2009

End of the Aughts

I almost always have a graphic or two to illustrate a post because I am a designer who "draws a box" around ideas whether it be writing, building websites or just playing around with tech to do things like BRT. For this post, I'll forgo graphics and put up a fairly short and incomplete list of musings to sum up my feelings about this most unsettled decade.
  • "W" - Words cannot describe besides nukeler
  • Pop music - All image, no music save exceptions like U2 & Leonard Cohen
  • US Bankruptcy - Brought to you by Rubin, Gramm, Summer & Geithner aided and abetted by the BA
  • 9/11 - All too many unanswered questions
  • Iraq - Wag the Dog writ large
  • Afghanistan - It's Obama's disaster now
  • Surveillance 24/7 - started by Bush, continued by Obama
  • Orwell - More relevant then ever
  • The Banksters - The real owners of the country
  • Heath Care - Not
  • Tech - The move toward nano marches on
  • Tech - Like nature, tech has no morality
  • Tech - Is advancing at double exponential rates
  • AI - More pervasive then ever
  • Robotics - Insects lead the way
  • ALife - A slippery slope to be sure
  • DNA Computing - Is becoming real
  • The Super Bowl - The ads no longer rock
  • The Web - The end of privacy, the rise of the Smart Planet
  • The Internet - The last bastion of Freedom
  • Science - Fiction yesterday, Fact today
  • Smart People - Never have a problem saying I don't know
  • Curiosity - Is the reason why creativity happens
  • The Art of War - Is timeless
  • Tao - Is also
  • Genius - Is the ability to see relationships and act upon them
  • Creativity - Applies to anything requiring thinking
  • Global Warming - Game changer to the max
  • Movies/Greatly edited - The best - Up, The worst - Battlefield Earth
  • Books - Too many to talk about but The Possibility of an Island comes to mind
  • Pro Sports - The land of the overpaid
  • Politics - The world of the bought and paid for
  • Democracy - The grand illusion of our times
  • Peak Oil - A concept not understood but it will be, soon
  • Hardware - The rise of Haptics is coming
  • Light Rail - A notion Obama doesn't understand
  • The Singularity - Beginning to take shape before our very eyes
  • The Fed - A cartel protected by government
  • Software - Getting better, getting cheaper
  • The Cloud - Computing as appliance
  • Open Source - Rules
  • 3D Graphics - Avatar is just the beginning
  • Physics - Stopping light is just the beginning
  • Biology - Computation and immortality beckons
  • Quantum Computing - The Matrix is just the beginning
  • Humanity - Is not ready for this
  • Earth - Doesn't need us
  • Thermodynamics - Everything has a cost
  • Information - "From It to Bit" - John Wheeler
  • Many Worlds - Is a notion who's time has come
  • Fractals - May be the TOE after all
  • OLED - Fahrenheit 451 comes to mind if you ask me.
  • The Media Merge - It's already here
  • The Web - Is becoming sentient
  • Obama - Change we can make believe in
  • Passivity & Sloth - The mantra of the US citizen
  • Creativity - Is within all of us if we have the courage to make it so
  • Excellence - Requires sacrifice, something to be avoided at all costs when instant gratification isn't fast enough
  • Experts - Anyone who says they are, aren't
  • The Future - Guessing is permitted, predicting isn't
  • Black Swans - Are everywhere
  • Luck - Is a very big deal
  • Chaos, Quantum Mechanics, Fractals & The Laws of Initial Conditions & Thermodynamics - Rule
  • Humor - A defining trait of man
  • Friendship - Without it, we are nothing
  • 2010 - The second decade of the 21st century looms...and, Happy New Year! :)

The Computing Surface

If Touchco's tech works as advertised, the era of the computing surface is here. I'm betting Apple's going to use this technology on their tablet. If not, the Microrsoft's of the world will as will the smart phone vendors . This is disruptive to the max. Note: Touchco is no longer in business but their take on haptics is absolutely the best so I am leaving the post in as reference. Robert E.
Any questions?


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Glitterati

Solar is almost here, finally, if Sandia Labs research pans out.

“Eventually units could be mass-produced and wrapped around unusual shapes for building-integrated solar, tents and maybe even clothing,” he said. This would make it possible for hunters, hikers or military personnel in the field to recharge batteries for phones, cameras and other electronic devices as they walk or rest.

Even better, such microengineered panels could have circuits imprinted that would help perform other functions customarily left to large-scale construction with its attendant need for field construction design and permits.

Said Sandia field engineer Vipin Gupta, “Photovoltaic modules made from these microsized cells for the rooftops of homes and warehouses could have intelligent controls, inverters and even storage built in at the chip level. Such an integrated module could greatly simplify the cumbersome design, bid, permit and grid integration process that our solar technical assistance teams see in the field all the time.”

For large-scale power generation, said Sandia researcher Murat Okandan, “One of the biggest scale benefits is a significant reduction in manufacturing and installation costs compared with current PV techniques.”

Part of the potential cost reduction comes about because microcells require relatively little material to form well-controlled and highly efficient devices."


The question to ask now is, is the US smart enough to build this tech here and not farm it out to places like China and India, countries that own over 90% of the solar market as we speak.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Dog...

Dilbert.com

The classic "My Dog Ate my Homework." excuse, updated. :)

Universal 3D

No doubt, universal 3D is coming to a browser near you if Deep Tech has anything to say about it. Standards are being implemented via WebGL and the major players are getting on board. When this tech is combined with html5, the fun will really begin as the difference between the cloud and the desktop will disappear, thus accelerating the move to a smart planet.

See RDF (RDF/W3) and OWL (OWL2) to see why.

Avatar

Haven't seen the flick, (looks like a winner/have seen previews and know the story line) but I have questions, particularly about the hero being paralysed from the waist down in the year 2154. Already, nerve regeneration research is starting to show tangible results, something that will, in my opinion, become commonplace with the next 10/15 years, thus saving millions the pain and expense of paralysis. The same progress on organ regeneration also applies as seen by work done by various institutions like Pitt and Tengion which promise to revolutionize medicine in ways not understood by the hacks in congress trying to cobble together a health care bill that makes Frankenstein look like Barrymore.

Can't wait to see Avatar in 3D as Cameron appears to have created a new way to bring film to us in ways that literally must be seen to be believed.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bait & Switch

Dilbert.com

This Dilbert reminds one of the Heath Care debacle, don't you think?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Iteration

To see why math, computers, science and art rock, click on Skytopia's Mandelbulb and be amazed. Daniel White & friends create art that must be seen to be believed. Simply awesome work to behold.

To the Good Times

I won't belabor the point of Obama's flatbacking - again. Just read Matt Taibbi's incendiary Obama's Big Sellout to see why we are so screwed.

"Now here's where it gets really interesting. It's three weeks after the election. You have a lame-duck president in George W. Bush — still nominally in charge, but in reality already halfway to the golf-and-O'Doul's portion of his career and more than happy to vacate the scene. Left to deal with the still-reeling economy are lame-duck Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a former head of Goldman Sachs, and New York Fed chief Timothy Geithner, who served under Bob Rubin in the Clinton White House. Running Obama's economic team are a still-employed Citigroup executive and the son of another Citigroup executive, who himself joined Obama's transition team that same month.


So on November 23rd, 2008, a deal is announced in which the government will bail out Rubin's messes at Citigroup with a massive buffet of taxpayer-funded cash and guarantees. It is a terrible deal for the government, almost universally panned by all serious economists, an outrage to anyone who pays taxes. Under the deal, the bank gets $20 billion in cash, on top of the $25 billion it had already received just weeks before as part of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. But that's just the appetizer. The government also agrees to charge taxpayers for up to $277 billion in losses on troubled Citi assets, many of them those toxic CDOs that Rubin had pushed Citi to invest in. No Citi executives are replaced, and few restrictions are placed on their compensation. It's the sweetheart deal of the century, putting generations of working-stiff taxpayers on the hook to pay off Bob Rubin's fuck-up-rich tenure at Citi. "If you had any doubts at all about the primacy of Wall Street over Main Street," former labor secretary Robert Reich declares when the bailout is announced, "your doubts should be laid to rest."

And this should tell you why we allow this crap to happen.

"I approach a woman named Pat Defillipis from Toms River, New Jersey, and ask her why she's here. "To protest health care," she answers. "And then amnesty. You know, immigration amnesty."

I ask her if she's aware that there's a big hearing going on in the House today, where Barney Frank's committee is marking up a bill to reform the financial regulatory system. She recognizes Frank's name, wincing, but the rest of my question leaves her staring at me like I'm an alien.

"Do you care at all about economic regulation?" I ask. "There was sort of a big economic collapse last year. Do you have any ideas about how that whole deal should be fixed?"

"We got to slow down on spending," she says. "We can't afford it."

"But what do we do about the rules governing Wall Street . . ."

She walks away. She doesn't give a fuck. People like Pat aren't aware of it, but they're the best friends Obama has. They hate him, sure, but they don't hate him for any reasons that make sense. When it comes down to it, most of them hate the president for all the usual reasons they hate "liberals" — because he uses big words, doesn't believe in hell and doesn't flip out at the sight of gay people holding hands. Additionally, of course, he's black, and wasn't born in America, and is married to a woman who secretly hates our country."


Believe in God, remain ignorant and let these bastards steal our money while destroying the country and the middle class without a care in the world. I voted for the "O"man even though, as George Carlin once said, "You don't have a choice." but I "chose" anyway. Ah George, I miss you big time but what the hell, I live by the mantra Change you can make believe in as this calms me down whenever I get stressed about the economic welfare of the good old USA.

"By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth." - George Carlin

Addendum: Let's not forget about Obama's drug flip-flop either...

And the beat goes on - The Whispers

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Game Changer

It wasn't supposed to exist. "The" Google Phone. Then we (and others) heard otherwise. And now, Google isn't just handing this "sexy beast" out to employees, they're going to sell it directly. Everything has changed...

Gizmodo's right and US Telcos are finally going to be pushed into the 21st century as telcos already have in other parts of the world (Asia, Europe, Canada etc., etc.) where competition rules and dictates to the customer and handset developers no longer apply. Finally, there's an unlocked phone loaded with power, elegance and with enough corporate gravitas that AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, among others, cannot ignore. Disruptive tech to the max. Let's hope the price point is spot on because if so, I'm buying one.

Click here to get Zdnet's viewpoint. Click here for Google's.

How Much Information...

"The average American consumes 34 gigabytes of content and 100,000 words of information in a single day (excluding work information) -- 11.8 hours of information -- according to a report by the University of California, San Diego.

U.S. information consumption in 2008 totaled 3.6
zettabytes (10^21 bytes) and 10,845 trillion words."

What's rather interesting about this research is determining just how much this information weighs, a project BRT did for fun back in July, 2007 in a post titled A Dangerous Thing. In the piece, the estimated data produced by us would increase from 161 Exabites in 2007 to 988 in 2010 as per Baseline's Proforma, which equates, according to Discover Magazine's formula, to the size of a large pebble. Looking at Kurzweilai.net's findings, it looks like Baseline's forecast was off by about 3.6 times as a zettabyte is equivalent to 1000 Exabites, thus increasing the size and weight of data generated to that of a large marble. To get more info about data overload, click here.

Note: This info covers only the US so the earth's entire data set might equate to the size of a small rock.


As seen by this factoid, it's rather obvious that predicting the future is impossible thanks to chaos, the law of initial conditions and quantum theory. To see BRT's take on this last statement, click here . If nothing else, you will learn about the Mayans and the myth of 2012. Enjoy. :)

Addendum: Check out this amazing paper titled Time & Space Time: The Crystallizing Block Universe by George F. R. Ellis & Tony Rothman as it explains, in elegant fashion, why prognostications about the future is a fool's game at best.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Seeing 20 20



Looks like robots will be seeing a lot clearer sooner thanks to graphics processors and a biological approach to coding.

"Using Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), the same technology video game designers use to render life-like graphics, researchers are now making progress faster than ever before. A new study, co-led by David Cox, Principal Investigator of the Visual Neuroscience Group at the Rowland Institute at Harvard, and Nicolas Pinto, a Ph.D. Candidate in James DiCarlo's laboratory at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, was published in the November 26th issue of PLoS Computational Biology...

o tackle this problem, the team drew inspiration from screening techniques in molecular biology, where a multitude of candidate organisms or compounds are screened in parallel to find those that have a particular property of interest. Rather than building a single model and seeing how well it could recognize visual objects, the team constructed thousands of candidate models, and screened for those that performed best on an object recognition task.

The resulting models outperformed a crop of state-of-the-art computer vision systems across a range of test sets, more accurately identifying a range of objects on random natural backgrounds with variation in position, scale, and rotation.

Using ordinary computer processing units, the effort would have required either years of time or millions of dollars of computing hardware. Instead, by harnessing modern graphics hardware, the analysis was done in just one week, and at a small fraction of the cost.


"GPUs are a real game-changer for scientific computing. We made a powerful parallel computing system from cheap, readily available off-the-shelf components, delivering over hundred-fold speed-ups relative to conventional methods," says Pinto. "With this expanded computational power, we can discover new vision models that traditional methods miss."


To get the total picture to see why this research is so powerful, click on the PLOS Computational Biology graphic. You won't be sorry.

John Connor: Can you learn stuff you haven't been programmed with so you could be... you know, more human? And not such a dork all the time?
The Terminator: My CPU is a neural net processor; a learning computer. But Skynet pre-sets the switch to read-only when we're sent out alone.
Sarah Connor: Doesn't want you doing too much thinking, huh?
The Terminator: No.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I Did the Deed.

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Nuance

In their study, Seth Marvel, Steven Strogatz, and Jon Kleinberg from Cornell University have used theories from social psychology to classify certain configurations of friends and enemies as being more stable than others. They show that these configurations can be represented by an energy landscape, in which the overall social stress corresponds to a kind of energy that relaxes as relationships shift between friends and enemies.

In their model, the researchers used plus signs to represent friendships between two individuals, and minus signs when two individuals were enemies. Some configurations in a group were considered balanced, while others were unbalanced. For example, in a balanced configuration, the enemy of your enemy should be your friend, and the friend of your enemy should be your enemy. In the scientists’ model, these balanced configurations require less energy to maintain, and are the global minima in the energy landscape. The configurations of lowest possible energy are those in which all pairs in the network are friends, or in
which the network is divided into two “rival factions”: two groups of mutual friends who are antagonistic toward each other.

The ability to objectify the communicative process among warring parties via physics shows a new and sophisticated way to deal with some of the most difficult issues facing man today as this approach systematizes how individuals and social groups interact with each other at deep level. Perhaps this innovative approach to resolving personal and political strife should be tried prior to committing precious resources to questionable military adventures like Iraq & Afghanistan because war...is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected. - Sun Tzu, The Art of War.

For greater detail into this amazing research, click here.

Addendum. Click on the image above to check out how neuroscientists are looking at the brain's mirror neurons and how they impact the social world of man. Pretty amazing research that supports, in empirical fashion, the energy landscape of interpersonal communications of groups and individuals.

"Such interactions are a feature of many aspects of everyday life. They come to the fore when people play music, so in one of our experiments we got two people to tap a simple beat together. You might expect a leader and a follower to emerge, with the leader trying to maintain the beat, while the follower synchronises with the leader. Our twist was to also study what happened when each person could only hear the other, but not him or herself. No leader emerged: both players became followers, continually and mutually adjusting their taps to each other."

Sounds like Jazz doesn't it. :)