World leaders will be gathering in Northern Ireland next week for the G8 summit. Like a bunch of well-dressed people standing around a car that won't start, they will be looking for ideas to revive the spluttering engine of economic growth.
But is it time to think differently about what creates new industries and jobs? Should education be recognised as the key to innovation rather than a drain on the public purse?
Should we be pumping money into universities as well as banks and propping up schools and colleges as well as currencies?
Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's influential big thinker on international education, says that western economies have reached a fork in the road. It's a case of up-skilling or downsizing.
"You have two choices. You can go in to the race to the bottom with China, lowering wages for low-skill jobs. Or you can try to win in innovation and competitiveness.
"In the long run, if you don't have natural resources to sell, skills are the only way of competing.
Pronutria offers a scalable solution to the rising economic, human, and environmental cost of food. Our Nutriculture™ technology is so efficient at producing pure nutrients, it could satisfy the global demand for protein ingredients in a land area smaller than New York City and meet the daily protein requirements for a billion people in a land area no bigger than Rhode Island.
A group of French researchers believe that the sensors and transmitters we wear will route and relay data, not just collect it. We won’t just be connected to the network. We’ll be the network.
Ever wonder what the network infrastructure of the future will be? Try looking in the mirror.
Some day our bodies — or at least the clothing or accessories that adorn them — could become key network nodes in the internet of things. European researchers think that sensors and transmitters on our bodies can be used to form cooperative ad hoc networks that could be used for group indoor navigation, crowd-motion capture, health monitoring on a massive scale and especially collaborative communications. Last week, French institute CEA-Leti and three French universities have launched the Cormoran project, which aims to explore the use of such cooperative interpersonal networks.
The concept of wireless body area networks (WBANs) isn’t a new one. WBANs could be used to sever the cord between patients and their monitoring equipment. Companies like Apple and Heapslylon are exploring the possibility of connected clothes with embedded sensors. We’ve already begun embracing a new era of wearables, such as Google Glass to Fitbit (see disclosure), designed to become extensions of our senses and movements.
All of these devices will become key end-points in the internet of things, but what Cormoran proposes to make them pull double duty. Rather than just remain terminuses, they could route bits to and relay data from each other, becoming a distributed ad hoc network that constantly morphs as we move through physical space.
Research into mind-altering drugs is back. But the field is still on the edges of academic consciousness.
Research into mind-altering drugs is back.
You don't have to spend much time at the six-day second international Psychedelic Science conference in downtown Oakland to learn that not all its 1,900 attendees are academic scientists, and that few are strangers to the power of mind-bending drugs.
On my first day, boarding the conference's sunset cruise of San Francisco Bay, I meet Chad, a middle-aged man dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, who says his trips with magic mushrooms have reawakened him to the beauty of existence. "I am here out of curiosity," he explains, adding that he has a desire to understand what he has experienced. "It is just really nice to know they are breaking through some of the barriers with formal research. God knows there is a lot of informal research."
As the sun sets behind the Golden Gate Bridge, I meet Seabrook. Wearing rings in both ears and a flower badge pinned to his cap, he says he has never had a bad trip in more than 20 LSD experiences. "The main thing I love about this is it is a reunion—I have so many old friends here it is like a family," he says.
At least half the attendees on the cruise disembark early in San Francisco to join a celebration of Bicycle Day, commemorating the day in April 1943 that the Swiss chemist Albert Hofman sampled the lysergic acid diethylamide compound that he'd discovered and then rode his bike home.
But dotted among the conference's psychedelic aficionados, who along with healers, artists, and activists make up the bulk of attendees, are members of another tribe. Researchers in psychiatry and psychology are here presenting their latest findings on the use of psychedelics to help treat anxiety disorders and addictions for which conventional treatments don't always work.
A startup that lets you have your own cloud servers at home is part of a movement that is turning its back on conventional cloud computing
IS THIS the death of the cloud as we know it? Space Monkey certainly seems to think so – it is planning to build a better one. When its Kickstarter campaign ended last week, the startup had received more than three times its $100,000 funding target.
Set to launch in the next few months, Space Monkey aims to replace public cloud service providers such as Dropbox and Google Drive with a cloud of thousands of devices that sit in our homes. For a monthly fee, Space Monkey will lease subscribers a device containing a 2-terabyte hard drive and software that connects to all other Space Monkey devices on the internet.
Only half the storage space is for you – the rest is filled with other subscribers' data. Everything stored on a Space Monkey device is copied and split into many encrypted pieces distributed over the network. If you want to watch one of your videos away from home, it will be put together from the pieces copied onto devices closest to your current location. It is much like torrent downloads from file-sharing websites, which assemble fragments of a file from different machines on a peer-to-peer network.
Space Monkey claims that its cloud will give users upload and download speeds that are 12 times as fast as those offered by existing services – and as the network of subscribers grows the rate could be 60 times faster. "Each new user adds bandwidth," says co-founder Alen Peacock.
Editor’s NoteThis post is part of Co.Exist’s Futurist Forum, a series of articles by some of the world’s leading futurists about what the world will look like in the near and distant future, and how you can improve how you navigate future scenarios...
Scenarios for the future that involve a horrifying end for humanity might make for exciting reading, but they’re the most unlikely of scenarios--and incredibly unhelpful in creating a better tomorrow.
The power team of Barnier, Sutton, Harris, and Wilson. Paradigms in which human cognition is conceptualised as “embedded”, “distributed”, or “extended” have arisen in different areas of the cognitive sciences in the past 20 years.
The evolutionary causes of the Internet's inescapable charisma
So here you are, once again, on the Internet. (Hello, there. Welcome back, friend.) Here you are, another Norm within the Cheers that is the World Wide Web, hanging out in the place where everybody (or, more likely, nobody) knows your name.
But why are you really here? I mean, why are you really here? Why, ultimately, do you -- and, because I'm right here with you, we -- keep coming back to this crazy place, day after day?
It's easy to attribute the web's ongoing magnetism to the powerful combination that is "human connection" and "cat videos"; that isn't the full story, though. The Internet is beguiling not just because of its content, but because of its structure.
That's according to Tom Stafford, a cognitive scientist at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. The Internet, Sheffield told told LiveScience, offers the same kind of incentives and rewards that, say, slot machines do: You could pull several -- even several hundred -- rounds of duds (cherry-bar-7! bell-bell-lemon! unfunny "humor" piece! terrible listicle! bell-bell-lemon!). But when you get that one payoff -- when you hit even the smallest of jackpots -- your patience is rewarded. The monotony of the arm-pulls or the button-presses seems to be justified by the win. You get a rush of dopamine. You are happy. (For more on how this works, check out the excellent "No Armed Bandit" episode of Roman Mars's 99 Percent Invisible podcast.)
Something really interesting happens in the curation process, because stories don’t have intrinsic value. An unshared story is basically like rubbish, lying around without any value. Stories gain their meaning and value by sharing, but it’s not as simple as that. The curator imparts her own value, status and trust, upon the story.
Curators represent a new type of tribal leadership that operates bottom-up and peer to peer. As a member of a tribe, curators will always be more native and relevant than any outsiders will ever be. Within a tribe they are not only appreciated for leveraging their insider skills, but for sustaining and developing their culture.
A rousing call to action for those who would be citizens of the world—online and off.
We live in an age of connection, one that is accelerated by the Internet. This increasingly ubiquitous, immensely powerful technology often leads us to assume that as the number of people online grows, it inevitably leads to a smaller, more cosmopolitan world. We’ll understand more, we think. We’ll know more. We’ll engage more and share more with people from other cultures. In reality, it is easier to ship bottles of water from Fiji to Atlanta than it is to get news from Tokyo to New York.
In Rewire, media scholar and activist Ethan Zuckerman explains why the technological ability to communicate with someone does not inevitably lead to increased human connection. At the most basic level, our human tendency to “flock together” means that most of our interactions, online or off, are with a small set of people with whom we have much in common. In examining this fundamental tendency, Zuckerman draws on his own work as well as the latest research in psychology and sociology to consider technology’s role in disconnecting ourselves from the rest of the world.
For those who seek a wider picture—a picture now critical for survival in an age of global economic crises and pandemics—Zuckerman highlights the challenges, and the headway already made, in truly connecting people across cultures. From voracious xenophiles eager to explore other countries to bridge figures who are able to connect one culture to another, people are at the center of his vision for a true kind of cosmopolitanism. And it is people who will shape a new approach to existing technologies, and perhaps invent some new ones, that embrace translation, cross-cultural inspiration, and the search for new, serendipitous experiences.
Rich with Zuckerman’s personal experience and wisdom, Rewire offers a map of the social, technical, and policy innovations needed to more tightly connect the world.
“One of the definitions of sanity is the ability to tell real from unreal.Soon we’ll need a new definition.”
The reality of our technophile civilization is presently, I believe, beyond dispute, even the most ardent Luddite will find it hard to deny the almost invisible casualness with which she uses a smart phone. But even this all-pervading ‘smartphonism’ is only a hint or perhaps an insinuation of what the cyborgization process is leading us, as a species, as a culture and as a civilization, into.
The two main concepts which seem to provide some kind of indication as to where we are headed are Situational Awareness (SA)1 and the Adjacent Possible (AP)2. For those not yet fully familiar with situational awareness, it may be wise and maybe necessary to revise their understanding and implication of the evolution of this prevalent field of inquiry into human behavior, especially as pertains to decision making in rapidly evolving info flows.
Dr. Angela Belcher, a materials chemist and one of the world’s leading scientists in nanotechnology was announced today as the recipient of the 2013 $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize.
Belcher has drawn inspiration from nature and its ability to create materials.
-She believes that if organic and inorganic materials can combine in nature to produce exquisite structures, similar processes can be used in the lab to create things of which nature hasn’t yet dreamed. She has used these lessons in biology to design novel, hybrid organic-inorganic materials that have been used to create environmentally-friendly batteries and clean transportation fuel, among other inventions with both commercial and social value. The Lemelson-MIT Prize, which honors an outstanding mid-career inventor dedicated to improving our world through technological invention, has been awarded annually since 1995.
Synthetic biology moves us from reading to writing DNA, allowing us to design biological systems from scratch for any number of applications. Its capabilities are becoming clearer, its first products and processes emerging. Synthetic biology’s reach already extends from reducing our dependence on oil to transforming how we develop medicines and food crops. It is being heralded as the next big thing; whether it fulfils that expectation remains to be seen. It will require collaboration and multi-disciplinary approaches to development, application and regulation. Interesting times ahead!
(Phys.org) —Lawrence Livermore scientists have discovered and demonstrated a new technique to remove and store atmospheric carbon dioxide while generating carbon-negative hydrogen and producing alkalinity, which can be used to offset ocean...
A large genetic study finds gene variants with a subtle effect on scholastic achievement.
A study published on Thursday in Science reports that certain gene variants can affect how long someone stays in school.
In the first study from the Social Science Genetic Association Consortium, the investigators searched for correlations between more than two million of the genetic variants known to occur in humans and how much schooling an individual completed. They searched for the associations in more than 125,000 people from the United States, Australia and Western Europe, the vast majority of which were at least 30 years old and so were likely finished with their schooling.
Three particular DNA variants (each associated with a different gene) were found to associate with how many years of school a person had completed and whether or not they completed college. But each particular DNA variant could only explain 0.02 percent of the difference in the number of years a person stayed in school, so educational achievement will be more greatly influenced by other factors in life.
“Our study shows that the effects of every single genetic variant on educational attainment are much smaller than many scientists expected, but that they are present,” said Nicholas Timpson, a genetic epidemiologist at the University of Bristol, in a released statement. “From work such as this we are starting to understand in greater detail the delicate relationship between our genes and the environment and how they go on to shape complex outcomes such as educational attainment,” he said.
A lack of structural online boundaries tempts users into spending countless hours on the Web
"Checking Facebook should only take a minute."
Those are the famous last words of countless people every day, right before getting sucked into several hours of watching cat videos, commenting on Instagrammed sushi lunches, and Googling to find out what ever happened to Dolph Lundgren.
If that sounds like you, don't feel bad: That behavior is natural, given how the Internet is structured, experts say.
People are wired to compulsively seek unpredictable payoffs like those doled out on the Web. And the Internet's omnipresence and lack of boundaries encourage people to lose track of time, making it hard to exercise the willpower to turn it off.
"The Internet is not addictive in the same way as pharmacological substances are," said Tom Stafford, a cognitive scientist at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. "But it's compulsive; it's compelling; it's distracting." [10 Easy Paths to Self Destruction]
As the world becomes increasingly complex and interconnected, some of our biggest challenges have begun to seem intractable. What should we do about uncertainty in the financial markets? How can we predict energy supply and demand? How will climate change play out? How do we cope with rapid urbanization? Our traditional approaches to these problems are often qualitative and disjointed and lead to unintended consequences. To bring scientific rigor to the challenges of our time, we need to develop a deeper understanding of complexity itself.
Mr. Know-It-All answers your questions about Kindle books, the carbon footprint of online shopping and the ethics of reading journal articles for free.
Is it true that I don’t really own the books I purchase for my Kindle?
If convenient euphemisms could somehow be outlawed, the “Buy now with 1-Click” button on Kindle pages would have to be relabeled “License now with 1-Click.” Amazon’s terms of service clearly state that, unlike those bulky slabs of arboreal matter that imparted knowledge to generations past, Kindle books can never be owned in the traditional sense. Instead, your $12.99 merely earns you the right to view the work on your Kindle. This arrangement gives Amazon the authority to snatch back that content if the company thinks you’ve been naughty—say, by copying and distributing ebooks or by engaging in fraud with your account.
Look at it from Amazon’s perspective: Part of the rationale for letting you resell old-school books is that you can do so only once—after the transaction is complete, the physical book is, by definition, no longer in your possession. That’s not necessarily the case with ebooks, which can be duplicated with ease. If Amazon grants its customers true ownership of Kindle books, it will have no quick recourse against scoundrels who resell books multiple times without deleting the original. Wiping someone’s Kindle stash is a lot easier than filing a lawsuit.
But there’s still something outrageous and infuriating about the situation. If Jeff Bezos showed up at your door and said he wanted to repossess your books, would you let him in? No, you’d unleash your hounds. And then hope that one of the dogs got ahold of his wallet.
Marcus du Sautoy: A physicist has formulated a mathematical theory that purports to explain why the universe works the way it does – and it feels like 'the answer'
Two years ago, a mathematician and physicist whom I've known for more than 20 years arranged to meet me in a bar in New York. What he was about to show me, he explained, were ideas that he'd been working on for the past two decades. As he took me through the equations he had been formulating I began to see emerging before my eyes potential answers for many of the major problems in physics. It was an extremely exciting, daring proposal, but also mathematically so natural that one could not but feel that it smelled right.
He has spent the past two years taking me through the ins and outs of his theory and that initial feeling that I was looking at "the answer" has not waned. On Thursday in Oxford he will begin to outline his ideas to the rest of the mathematics and physics community. If he is right, his name will be an easy one to remember: Eric Weinstein.
As far as I can tell, the practice of photographing one’s food — whether in restaurants or at family gatherings — is generally deplored. The New York Times Style section, in its dual role as avatar and caricature of urban mores, reported in January that restaurants in Manhattan were banning it. (‘It’s a disaster in terms of momentum, settling into the meal,’ said one chef. ‘It’s hard to build a memorable evening when flashes are flying every six minutes.’) Your friends tend to be annoyed if you cram your Facebook and Twitter feeds with snapshots of your latest delicacy, too. ‘You posted an Instagram-ed picture of a handful of blueberries the other day,’ wrote Katherine Markovich in McSweeney’s, sneering at the iPhone-toting hordes of amateur photographers. ‘What would your day have been without those blueberries? Would you have felt a little less connected to the earth and, ultimately, yourself?’
We laugh at the thought of a beautiful moment ruined by Instagram, but meals continue to fill our online lives. The internet is brimming with steak and fried eggs, kale and rice, ice cream and coffee. Food, of course, can be a sign of status, and documenting our every dinner might be a vehicle for self-expression: ‘Tell me what you eat,’ said Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, the 19th-century French lawyer, politician and gastronome, ‘and I will tell you what you are’. But the exotic cuisines, fine wines and clever plating that we recognise today are all built on the simple act of dining together. Food is inherently social, best consumed with friends or family; even eating with strangers is better than eating alone. It is essential to our social life that we invite people to eat with us, even when we’re separated by space and time.