Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The FuturicT Knowledge Accelerator

The FuturicT Knowledge Accelerator's stated purpose is to learn more about the social interactions of man and how to harness that knowledge in developing innovative ways to deal with the myriad problems facing humanity.

The need of a socio-economic knowledge collider was first pointed out in the OECD Global Science Forum on Applications of Complexity Science for Public Policy in Erice from October 5 to 7, 2008. Since then, many scientists have called for a large-scale ICT-based research initiative on techno-social-economic-environmental issues, sometimes phrased as a Manhattan-, Apollo-, or CERN-like project to study the way our living planet works in a social dimension. Due to the connotations, we use the term knowledge accelerator, here. An organizational concept for the establishment of a knowledge accelerator is currently being sketched within the EU Support Action VISIONEER, see The EU Flagship initiative is exactly the right instrument to materialize this concept and thereby tackle the global challenges for mankind in the 21st century.

   Because the web has eliminated the tower of babel nightmare of incompatible file formats and data transport protocols and systems can process and manipulate vast amounts of data (video, image, sound & text) with relative ease, the ability to actually undertake such a vast enterprise becomes possible. Click on the graphic below to view (& interact with) the various technologies and disciplines  Visioneer intends to use to not only better understand how man operates as a social being but also to see how these tools can be leveraged to improve man's lot on planet earth.

Click here to download the PDF to learn why FuturicT has "legs". Another reason why I like this project is the fact anyone can join and contribute instantaneously via their wiki, something pretty awesome I must say.   I joined up before writing this post.

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery." - James Joyce

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Ray of Hope

Just reading this NY Times post gives one hope that we could actually become good stewards of the planet when common sense is combined with care and a can do attitude to make it happen.

“We found that marine protected areas have an indirect effect that seems to benefit corals,” Dr. Bruno said. But, he said, it takes time for these effects to be realized. “People put these parks out there and then run out to see them in five years, but the benefits show up later, sometimes it takes decades,” he said.

Dr. Pikitch credits the success of Glover’s Reef to the design of the protected area. The no-take zone helps fish stocks recover, and those fish then repopulate the nearby fisheries outside the zone. She calls this doing “double duty” and says that these strategies are of particular importance in places like Belize where fishing has been a key means of subsistence since Mayan times."

Information Graphics 101

The NYTimes posted an article that touches the cockles of my heart, titled We Have Met the Enemy and He Is Powerpoint.

The reason why I cackle stems from the fact I design sites for a living and am very familiar with the graphic atrocities wrought by this program when used by someone who understands less then nothing when it comes to knowing how to properly present information to an audience. The nightmare seen above,  known as
THE SLIDE, shows how "really" bad graphics permeate the highest echelons of the military with impunity, something I find somewhat discomforting because 1: I have absolutely no idea what the hell is going on here and 2: I shudder to think just how long it took the person to build this monster while being paid with our money to do it. 

Anyone who uses Power Point, Keynote or any other presentation app intended to create information graphics should be required to look at Apple or IBM design sets as a start point to learning how information should be packaged because, (I have seen this more often then thought possible), 10/12 helvetica light combined with 300+ words jammed on one slide with a dark grey background doesn't make it no matter how powerful an idea a presenter may have.

Houston, we have a problem...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Going Berserk, one PC at a time

Dilbert would appreciate this one from McAfee, a leading antivirus software provider...

"McAfee Inc. confirmed that a software update it posted at 9 a.m. Eastern time caused its antivirus program for corporate customers to misidentify a harmless file. It has posted a replacement update for download.

"We are not aware of significant impact on consumers and believe we have effectively limited such occurrence," the company said in a statement.

Online posters begged to differ, saying thousands of computers running Windows XP with Service Pack 3 were rendered useless.

About a third of the hospitals in Rhode Island were forced to stop treating patients without traumas in emergency rooms. The hospitals also postponed some elective surgeries, said Nancy Jean, a spokeswoman for the Lifespan system of hospitals. The system includes Rhode Island Hospital, the state's largest, and Newport Hospital, the only hospital on Aquidneck Island.

Jean said patients who required emergency care for gunshot wounds, car accidents, blunt trauma and other potentially fatal injuries were still being admitted to the emergency rooms.

In Kentucky, state police were told to shut down the computers in their patrol cars as technicians tried to fix the problem. The National Science Foundation headquarters in Arlington, Va., also lost computer access.

Peter Juvinall, systems administrator at Illinois State University in Normal, said that when the first computer started rebooting it quickly became evident that it was a major problem, affecting dozens of computers at the College of Business alone.

"I originally thought it was a virus," he said. When the tech support people concluded McAfee's update was to blame, they stopped further downloads of the faulty software update and started shuttling from computer to computer to get them working again.

Such personal attention to each PC from a technician appeared to be the only way to fix the problem because the computers weren't receptive to remote software updates when stuck in the reboot cycle. That slowed the recovery. 

Intel Corp. appeared to be among the victims, according to employee posts on Twitter. Intel did not immediately return calls for comment..

Must admit I dodged a bullet on this one. :)

The Canary in the Coal Mine

Back in October of 2008, BRT posted a blurb titled Road Noise, a piece about the fragmentation of the environment caused by roads and the negative impact they have had on wildlife. It seems roads have had an even deeper impact then what was written in Noise based on 2010 research done by Cornell University using the timber rattlesnake as a prime example of man's ever increasing influence on earth's environment.

Researchers discovered that fragmentation of natural habitats by roads -- even smaller, low-traffic highways -- has had a significant effect over the past 80 years on genetic structure of timber rattlesnakes in four separate regions of upstate New York. Less genetic diversity means populations become more susceptible to illness or environmental changes that threaten their survival.

"Our study adds to a growing body of literature indicating that even anthropogenic habitat modifications that does not destroy a large amount of habitat can create significant barriers to gene flow," said researchers.

While the rattlesnakes shorter lifespan and method of travel may help make the impact of roadways relatively quick and dramatic, the new findings reinforce earlier work on other terrestrial animals -- from grizzly bears to frogs -- and provides a fresh warning about habitat fragmentation that all plans for future human development must consider..

“We must become the change we want to see.” - Mahatma Gandhi


HAL 9000, the mythical computer conceived by Arthur C. Clarke in 2001, unwittingly turned villainous by having to conceal the real reason for the mission to Jupiter to Dave Bowman, has never been realized until now...


1.In our brain, during computing, information processing circuits evolve continuously to solve complex problems. We have created a similar process of circuit evolution in an organic molecular layer, which also solves complex problems. This brain-like "evolutionary circuit" is realized for the first time in the world.
2.Our computer is massively parallel: whereas the world's fastest supercomputers process bits sequentially in each their channels, our circuit allows instantaneous changes of ~300 bits at a time.
3.Our processor can produce solutions to problems for which algorithms on computers are unknown, like predictions of natural calamities and outbreak of diseases. To prove this unique feature, we have mimicked two natural phenomena: the diffusion and evolution of cancer cells at the molecular scale.
4.We have realized organic Monolayers with an IQ. Our monolayer has intelligence. 
5.Our molecular processor heals itself if there is any defect. It has got its remarkable self-healing property from the self-organizing ability of the molecular monolayer. No existing man-made computer has this property, but our brain does: if a neuron dies, another neuron takes over its function.


1. To match the power of a bio-processor, hardware must be dynamic and it should evolve along with the encoded problem, as proposed by Hopfield and Tank in 1987. After 23 years, we have realized that technology in practice using an assembly of molecular switches.
2. Our evolutionary circuit is based on the Cellular Automaton model, which was proposed in 1955 by Von Neumann. For the first time this model has now been realized physically by molecular monolayers.

Ripple effect and future developments

1. We will be able to solve problems that are beyond the power of current computers. Especially ill-defined problems, like the prediction of natural calamities, prediction of diseases, and Artificial Intelligence, will benefit from the huge instantaneous parallelism of our molecular templates.
2. Robots will become much more intelligent and creative than today if our molecular computing paradigm is adopted. Current robots cannot cope with changing environments, and they will be unable to survive in more hostile environments than those they were programmed for. Their intelligence is very limited, even when compared to viruses and bacteria. With our hardware, robots can take many decisions at a time, which no computer can do. They can come up with new solutions nearly for infinite times which we can never expect from a normal robot.

Sounds like HAL doesn't it? If proven to work in the real world, the rise of "real" AI has arrived. Seen above is an MRI showing how the computing construct mimics the brain in differing situations - to whit...Magnetic resonance images of human brain during different functions appear on top. Similar evolving patterns have been generated on the molecular monolayer one after another (bottom). A snapshot of the evolving pattern for a particular brain function is captured using Scanning Tunneling Microscope at 0.68 V tip bias (scale bar is 6 nm). The input pattern to mimic particular brain function is distinct, and the dynamics of pattern evolution is also typical for a particular brain operation. Credit: Anirban Bandyopadhyay

The question to ask now is, are we ready for it?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Deception 2 Step

Selling short is one way to make money in stocks. Selling short against an investment while selling the same thing to a client is fraud, something played to perfection by Goldman Sachs, the company who not only runs America but also is being charged by the SEC for doing just that.

"Goldman was not the only firm that peddled these complex securities — known as synthetic collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.’s — and then made financial bets against them, called selling short in Wall Street parlance. Others that created similar securities and then bet they would fail, according to Wall Street traders, include Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, as well as smaller firms like Tricadia Inc., an investment company whose parent firm was overseen by Lewis A. Sachs, who this year became a special counselor to Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner." - 

To see how this scam worked, click on the NYTimes graphic seen below.

No doubt, this kind of unregulated deal was greatly facilitated by the actions of Bob Rubin and Phil Gramm in gutting the Glass-Stegall Act thus eliminating the separation of commercial banks from investment banks to allow unregulated deals of unprecedented size and complexity (derivatives, subprime mortgages etc., etc.) to be sold to the unwise (Greece anyone? etc., etc.)  while gaining profit at the expense of the entire world. BRT has discussed the complexities and deceptions of finance at length (Type finance in search & stand back. :)) but to get other takes on this fascinating topic, one will not go wrong by checking out Zero Hedge  and Washington's Blog as resources knowledgeable in how money works in the dark caverns of Wall Street. In every way, finance is so interesting particularly when the thieves doing it make Willie Sutton a piker when it comes to stealing money from us while laughing all the way to the bank.  

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Bridge to Everywhere

"Einstein-Rosen bridges like the one visualized above have never been observed in nature, but they provide theoretical physicists and cosmologists with solutions in general relativity by combining models of black holes and white holes."

For the longest time, I have always had a problem with Singularities. Not from a mathematical perspective as my knowledge of math is rudimentary at best (Algebra II anyone?) but philosophical as a singularity would seem to violate the first law of thermodynamics whereby energy expands to the infinite with nowhere to go inside the confines of a black hole instead of being transformed into some other form (dark energy?) via the Einstein-Rosen Bridge.

Because of my reluctance to accept something that doesn't feel right, I have followed with great interest, TOEs, which give the escape clause needed to show how reality works at all levels. To my rescue, I hope, comes a theory both elegant and practical from Nikodem Poplawski, a young physicist from Indiana University.

After reading Poplawski's paper, one begins to see why wormholes could be the norm and not the exception because no star, even while collapsing, would stop rotating during it's one way journey to becoming a black hole. In fact, because the collapse is so fast, I would venture the speed of rotation added to the star could become, in theory, as intense as a quarsar's, a super massive black hole capable of absorbing stars at a fantastic rate. If so, the notion of black holes being Einstein-Rosen bridges connecting universes to one another is not far fetched at all.

Lastly, because the size of black holes determine their life spans, could micro Einstein-Rosen bridges aka micro black holes, give rise to the quantum foam and it's connect to the weirdness of quantum theory? It's a thought.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

I'm Back

I'm back. Took a hiatus from blogging by doing a vacation with my wife and chilling out by being off the grid, biking and checking out, among other southern highlights, Savannah, GA, one of the most beautiful cities one will ever see. The 22 squares, surrounded by exquisite historical homes and public offices, will delight anyone into flowers, landscape design and impressive sculpture.

Another gem is Forsyth Park, a magnificent space for all to enjoy and a logical connect to the squares that dot the historical district of the city. Eateries are also a plus. Check out Huey's, it rocks.

No take on science & tech in this post but in the near month I was gone, the acceleration of same simply amazes me. Dark energy, HP memory research, quantum computing, nantotech and it's application to sight and a radical new approach to ultrasound are just samplers of what's happening in the first quarter of 2010.

Robert E.