Knowmads, Infocology of the future
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Study: A rich club in the human brain

Study: A rich club in the human brain | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Just as the Occupy Wall Street movement has brought more attention to financial disparities between the haves and have-nots in American society, researchers from Indiana University and the University Medical Center Utrecht in The Netherlands are...
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Knowmads, Infocology of the future
Exploring the possible , the probable, the plausible
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Is psychology really in crisis?

Is psychology really in crisis? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Modern psychology is apparently in crisis. This claim is nothing new. From phrenology to psychoanalysis, psychology has traditionally had an uneasy scientific status. Indeed, the philosopher of science, Karl Popper, viewed Freud’s theories as a typical example of pseudoscience because no test could ever show them to be false. More recently, psychology has feasted on a banquet of extraordinary findings whose scientific credibility has also been questioned.

Some of these extraordinary findings include Daryl Bem’s experiments, published in 2011, that seem to show future events influence the past. Bem, an emeritus professor at Cornell University, revealed that people are more likely to remember a list of words if they practise them after a recall test, compared with practising them before the test. In another study, he showed that people are significantly better than chance at selecting which of two curtains hide a pornographic image.

Then there’s Yale’s John Bargh who in 1996 reported that, when unconsciously primed with an “elderly stereotype” (by unscrambling jumbled sentences containing words such as “Florida” and “bingo”), people subsequently walk more slowly. Add to this Roy Baumeister who in 1998 presented evidence suggesting we have a finite store of will-power which is sapped whenever we resist temptations such as eating chocolates. Or, in the same year, Ap Dijksterhuis and Ad Van Knippenberg showing that performance on Trivial Pursuit is better after people list typical characteristics of a professor rather than those of a football hooligan.
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This AI learned to predict the future by watching loads of TV

This AI learned to predict the future by watching loads of TV | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
One difficulty faced by artificial intelligence is predicting what humans are going to do next. To help solve that problem, researched have trained an algorithm by making it binge-watch TV.

Computer vision experts from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) made an algorithm watch 600 hours of TV shows including Ugly Betty, Scrubs, The Big Bang Theory, The Office (US) and more.

In each of the clips, taken from YouTube, humans were performing tasks and interacting with each other.

After analysing the videos, the AI was then made to watch a clip it hadn't seen before and predict what would happen. The system was allowed to make multiple predictions about what might happen between one and five seconds in the future.

"In some cases our model correctly predicts that a man and woman are about to kiss or hug or that men in a bar will high five," the researchers wrote.

"[However] our model incorrectly forecasts a hug because a third person unexpectedly enters the scene".

The computer model was able to predict what would happen next 43 per cent of the time. "We believe abundantly available unlabelled videos are an effective resource we can use to acquire knowledge about the world, which we can use to learn to anticipate future," the researchers wrote in their paper.

And the "unlabelled" nature of the videos is key: they didn't have captions or descriptions explaining what happened so the AI had to work everything out by itself. To validate the results the researchers used labelled videos in the reported tests.
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Vladimir Ignatov's curator insight, June 24, 4:07 PM

Maybe watching a lot of TV is not bad after all?

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Sex, maggots, castration and politicians lead to this year's Golden Goose Award

Sex, maggots, castration and politicians lead to this year's Golden Goose Award | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
This is a story about flesh-eating maggots, politicians, castration and the sex life of the screwworm – although not necessarily in that order. It also involves one particular Golden Goose, but in this case, it's not a bird kept by a giant in the clouds, but rather an award that honors federally funded scientific research that might seem "silly, odd, or obscure when first conducted, but has resulted in significant benefits to society." And in this case, those benefits extend to battling the bugs that spread the Zika virus.

To put this all in the proper order, it's necessary to travel back to scientific field stations in Texas and Florida in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. There, two entomological researchers, Edward F. Knipling and Raymond C. Bushland, figured out a technique to eradicate the screwworm fly, which was wreaking havoc with livestock across America and costing ranchers hundreds of millions of dollars per year in losses and pest management. The screwworm lays its eggs in wounds such as those found on cattle, pigs and chickens. The maggots from those eggs hatch and eat the flesh in the wound, killing a full-sized cow in under two weeks.

To stop the zombie-like insect from continuing to thrive, Knipling and Bushland devised an insect-sterilization technique that's still in use today. The pair postulated that if they could sterilize the male screwworms through radiation, they'd be unable to reproduce and the population would eventually dwindle. And that's exactly what they did, even though they were often mocked and told by colleagues that they could never "castrate enough flies."

By 1982 their technique had wiped out the screwworm all the way down to Panama and, according to The Golden Goose Award website, that has saved farmers and ranchers billions of dollars over the past 50-plus years, plus it has given US consumers an estimated five percent reduction in the cost of beef at the supermarket.
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Even Small Children Are Less Helpful after Touching Money

Even Small Children Are Less Helpful after Touching Money | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Merely touching money has the power to alter our behavior. Money makes us more selfish, less helpful, and less generous towards others. One experiment, for example, had a pedestrian drop a bus pass in front of people who had just gotten money out of a cash machine or merely walked past the machine. People who had gotten money out of the cash machine were less likely to alert the woman that she had dropped her pass. While money can hamper helpfulness, it also confers psychological advances in the form of making people more persistent and more successful at solving challenging problems.

Our own research reveals that handling money can trigger all these behaviors, in different cultures, at a surprisingly early age—3 years-old. Even the very young are less likely to lend a helping hand, after touching money, or to work harder at solving challenging problems like correctly solving a labyrinth. And, all this happens despite a relative lack of experience with money or knowledge of its value. Money has the power to shift behavior in desirable and undesirable ways even before children can understand that a dime is worth more than a nickel. We were surprised to discover that an everyday occurrence around the world—simply touching cash—can trigger changes in behavior so early on in life. These findings could have implications for achievement, generosity and interpersonal harmony.

We documented the effects of money on young children’s behavior in a series of experiments. In one experiment, we instructed some children to sort money by denomination, while others sorted buttons by color. They then went to a different room where their performance on a difficult task was put to the test. They were given a maze to solve and were told they could quit at any time. Money sorters worked longer and were more successful at solving the maze than button sorters. In another experiment, 3 year-olds sorted coins and banknotes, or buttons and paper slips, before moving to a different room. There they met an experimenter who asked for their help readying materials for the next child she would test. She gave them a basket and asked the children to bring her as many red crayons as they could from a box in the far corner of the room. Money sorters were less helpful, overall, than button and paper sorters.

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First self-driving ‘cognitive’ vehicle uses IBM Watson Internet of Things | KurzweilAI

First self-driving ‘cognitive’ vehicle uses IBM Watson Internet of Things | KurzweilAI | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Local Motors, creator of the world’s first 3D-printed cars, has developed the first self-driving “cognitive” vehicle, using IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive.

The vehicle, dubbed “Olli,” can carry up to 12 people. It uses IBM Watson and other systems to improve the passenger experience and allow natural interaction with the vehicle. Olli will be used on public roads locally in Washington DC and later this year in Miami-Dade County.

Olli is the first vehicle to use the cloud-based cognitive computing capability of IBM Watson IoT to analyze and learn from high volumes of transportation data, produced by more than 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle. Sensors will be added and adjusted continually as passenger needs and local preferences are identified.

Four Watson developer APIs — Speech to Text, Natural Language Classifier, Entity Extraction and Text to Speech — will enable passengers to interact conversationally with Olli while traveling from point A to point B, discussing topics about how the vehicle works, where they are going, and why Olli is making specific driving decisions.

Watson empowers Olli to understand and respond to passengers’ questions as they enter the vehicle, such as destinations (“Olli, can you take me downtown?”) or specific vehicle functions (“how does this feature work?” or even “are we there yet?”). Passengers can also ask for recommendations on local destinations such as popular restaurants or historical sites based on analysis of personal preferences.

“Cognitive computing provides incredible opportunities to create unparalleled, customized experiences for customers, taking advantage of the massive amounts of streaming data from all devices connected to the Internet of Things, including an automobile’s myriad sensors and systems,” said Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson Internet of Things, Commerce & Education.
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Touchscreens for dogs, wearables for chickens: welcome to the world of animal technology

Touchscreens for dogs, wearables for chickens: welcome to the world of animal technology | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Imagine leaving your dog at home while it turns on the smart TV and chooses a programme to watch. Meanwhile you visit a zoo where you play interactive touchscreen games with the apes and watch the dolphins using sonar to order their lunch. In the field behind you, a farmer is stroking his flock of chickens virtually, leaving the drones to collect sheep while the cows milk themselves. Welcome to the unusual world of animal technology.

Animals have interacted with technology for a long time, from tracking devices for conservation research to zoos with early touchscreen computers. But more recently, the field of animal-computer interaction (ACI) has begun to explore in more detail exactly how animals use technology like this. The hope is that better understanding animals' relationship with technology will means we can use it to monitor and improve their welfare.

The explosion of research in ACI has been followed by pet products that allow owners to monitor their pets when out of the house and even play games with them. For example the PetCube toy lets owners control a laser that the pets can chase while talking to them using a video app on their smartphones. Other apps allow owners to monitor their pets' health, exercise and habits. Research into the app CompanionViz showed this data gave owners an enhanced understanding of their pet’s health and strengthened their companionship.

My own research involves building intelligent tracking devices for dogs that let them interact with media on a screen so we can study how dogs use TV and what they like to watch (if anything). Perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve found that dogs like to watch videos of other dogs. This has led me to track dogs dogs' gaze across individual and multiple screens and attempts to work out how best to make media just for dogs.
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Breakthrough in understanding the chills and thrills of musical rapture

Breakthrough in understanding the chills and thrills of musical rapture | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
The skin comes out in goosebumps and tingles run up the spine. But how particular pieces of music can induce such rapturous effects in people has stumped researchers for centuries.

With the passing of time comes new technology though, and suitably equipped with modern brain scanning equipment, scientists may now have made some headway.

In the latest effort to understand “the chills”, researchers in the US put out a call for music fans who either consistently experienced euphoric sensations on hearing certain tracks, or who hardly ever felt them at all.

“It stemmed from a deep interest in intense, profound emotional responses, in particular those that come from music,” said Matthew Sachs, a graduate student at the University of Southern California who conducted the experiments at Harvard University. “I’ve always been fascinated by how a collection of tones changing over time has the ability to evoke these very strong sensations.”

More than 200 people responded to the call and filled out online personality questionnaires. From these, Sachs and others at Harvard and Wesleyan University in Connecticut selected 10 to form a “chill group” and another 10 to form a “no chill” group.

Before having their brains scanned, the 20 volunteers went into the lab with playlists of music they found most pleasurable. The tracks ranged from the Liebestod from Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde and Coldplay’s Strawberry Swing to Bag Raiders’ Shooting Stars and Blue Devils Drum Corps’s Constantly Risking Absurdity.

Using a battery of tests, the researchers measured the volunteers’ physiological responses to the music they brought in and other tracks chosen to act as controls. The tests allowed the team to confirm that even though all of the participants were self-professed music fans, only half regularly experienced the curious sensation of the chills.
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All 'illegal' drugs should be decriminalised, experts say

All 'illegal' drugs should be decriminalised, experts say | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Two leading public health organisations have called for the personal possession of "all illegal drugs" to be decriminalised.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Faculty of Public Health say that the call "forms part of a wider package of measures aimed at moving UK drugs strategy away from a predominantly criminal justice approach towards one based on public health and harm reduction".

The groups also claim the public agree with them – in a poll of more than 2,000 UK adults, more than half (56 per cent) agreed that drug users should be "referred to treatment, rather than charged with a criminal offence".
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A new RSPH report, Taking a New Line on Drugs, has offered a set of recommendations for the governmentto consider.

It suggests that decriminalisation would decrease drug related harm, which has continued to rise despite overall drug use falling in recent years.

Treatment and education should be the tools used to tackle drug related deaths, the groups claim.

"For too long, UK and global drugs strategies have pursued reductions in drug use as an end in itself, failing to recognise that harsh criminal sanctions have pushed vulnerable people in need of treatment to the margins of society, driving up harm to health and wellbeing even as overall use fall," said Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive of RSPH.

Cramer continued to say that the "war of drugs" has failed and that a "new approach was needed.
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The truth about working for Deliveroo, Uber and the on-demand economy

The truth about working for Deliveroo, Uber and the on-demand economy | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
It’s the simplicity that is so seductive. Thanks to apps such as Uber or Handy, in a few clicks you can be whisked home by a private driver, to a spotlessly cleaned flat, where your favourite meal is brought to your door. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Deliveroo, the company that delivers restaurant food to your door, is expecting to hit revenues of £130m this year. While every week in London alone, 30,000 people download Uber and book a car for the first time, the firm now valued at $62.5bn.

Supporters argue that this “on demand” economy offers those who choose to work for them the independence and flexibility to fit their work to their lifestyle, or supplement their income from another job. Uber’s UK chief, Jo Bertram, points out: “Over two-thirds of new people signing up to drive with Uber have been referred by an existing partner-driver because they love the freedom and flexibility.” While Deliveroo say they have more than 3,000 riders in the UK – a number that is rising weekly.

But maybe it’s not as simple as it seems: strikes and class actions by workers in the on-demand economy, along with government restrictions, seem to be popping up as quickly as new apps. So what is it really like working in the on-demand world? We asked four people about their experience.
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Nick Bostrom: ‘We are like small children playing with a bomb’

Nick Bostrom: ‘We are like small children playing with a bomb’ | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
You’ll find the Future of Humanity Institute down a medieval backstreet in the centre of Oxford. It is beside St Ebbe’s church, which has stood on this site since 1005, and above a Pure Gym, which opened in April. The institute, a research faculty of Oxford University, was established a decade ago to ask the very biggest questions on our behalf. Notably: what exactly are the “existential risks” that threaten the future of our species; how do we measure them; and what can we do to prevent them? Or to put it another way: in a world of multiple fears, what precisely should we be most terrified of?

When I arrive to meet the director of the institute, Professor Nick Bostrom, a bed is being delivered to the second-floor office. Existential risk is a round-the-clock kind of operation; it sleeps fitfully, if at all.

Bostrom, a 43-year-old Swedish-born philosopher, has lately acquired something of the status of prophet of doom among those currently doing most to shape our civilisation: the tech billionaires of Silicon Valley. His reputation rests primarily on his book Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, which was a surprise New York Times bestseller last year and now arrives in paperback, trailing must-read recommendations from Bill Gates and Tesla’s Elon Musk. (In the best kind of literary review, Musk also gave Bostrom’s institute £1m to continue to pursue its inquiries.)

The book is a lively, speculative examination of the singular threat that Bostrom believes – after years of calculation and argument – to be the one most likely to wipe us out. This threat is not climate change, nor pandemic, nor nuclear winter; it is the possibly imminent creation of a general machine intelligence greater than our own.
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A Post-Human World Is Coming. Design Has Never Mattered More

A Post-Human World Is Coming. Design Has Never Mattered More | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Futurist experts have estimated that by the year 2030 computers in the price range of inexpensive laptops will have a computational power that is equivalent to human intelligence. The implications of this change will be dramatic and revolutionary, presenting significant opportunities and challenges to designers. Already machines can process spoken language, recognize human faces, detect our emotions, and target us with highly personalized media content. While technology has tremendous potential to empower humans, soon it will also be used to make them thoroughly obsolete in the workplace, whether by replacing, displacing, or surveilling them. More than ever designers need to look beyond human intelligence and consider the effects of their practice on the world and on what it means to be human.

The question of how to design a secure human future is complicated by the uncertainties of predicting that future. As it is practiced today, design is strategically positioned to improve the usefulness and quality of human interactions with technology. Like all human endeavors, however, the practice of design risks marginalization if it is unable to evolve. When envisioning the future of design, our social and psychological frames of reference unavoidably and unconsciously bias our interpretation of the world. People systematically underestimate exponential trends such as Moore’s law, for example, which tells us that in 10 years we will have 32 times more total computing power than today. Indeed, as computer scientist Ray Kurzweil observes, "We won’t experience 100 years of technological advances in the 21st century; we will witness on the order of 20,000 years of progress (again when measured by today’s rate of progress), or about 1,000 times greater than what was achieved in the 20th century."
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Alessio Erioli's curator insight, June 11, 8:12 AM

"Just as human-centered design crafts structure and experience to shape intuition, post-human-centered design will teach intelligent machine systems to design the hierarchies and compositions of human behavior."

Alessio Erioli's curator insight, June 11, 8:15 AM

"Just as human-centered design crafts structure and experience to shape intuition, post-human-centered design will teach intelligent machine systems to design the hierarchies and compositions of human behavior."

Alessio Erioli's curator insight, June 11, 8:15 AM

"Just as human-centered design crafts structure and experience to shape intuition, post-human-centered design will teach intelligent machine systems to design the hierarchies and compositions of human behavior."

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A New Way to See Art

A New Way to See Art | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
People often stand before celebrated abstract artist Ad Reinhardt’s black paintings and don’t get it. At first glance—and second, and maybe even third—his signature pieces just look like large canvasses covered with black paint. Legend has it that when the Museum of Modern Art first exhibited them a man was so offended he cancelled his membership.

But Reinhardt’s dark squares aren’t monochromatic fields of pigment. They contain what American art critic Irving Sandler calls “ghosts of lines and ghosts of color,” a challenge to viewers to discover elusive shapes and tonal variations. The Guggenheim Museum’s catalogue claims the black paintings push the limits of visibility: Look too quickly and you’ll miss the whole thing.

So of all the art to choose, it would seem strange that art historian and museum educator Georgia Krantz finds these works important to share on her tours for the visually impaired. She is the creator of the “Mind’s Eye” series at the Guggenheim, in New York, which provides “sensory experience workshops” for museumgoers who are blind or have low vision. Beyond merely describing artworks, these workshops, like a growing number of programs at leading museums, are taking a multisensory approach: Their aim is to use touch and smell in addition to language to elicit the same emotions for blind visitors that others have when they view works by Bourgeois or Dali or Monet—an artist famous for pondering the very experience of seeing outdoor France.
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Second layer of information in DNA confirmed

Second layer of information in DNA confirmed | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Leiden theoretical physicists have proven that DNA mechanics, in addition to genetic information in DNA, determines who we are. Helmut Schiessel and his group simulated many DNA sequences and found a correlation between mechanical cues and the way DNA is folded. They have published their results in PLoS One.

When James Watson and Francis Crick identified the structure of DNA molecules in 1953, they revealed that DNA information determines who we are. The sequence of the letters G, A, T and C in the famous double helix determines what proteins are made ny our cells. If you have brown eyes, for example, this is because a series of letters in your DNA encodes for proteins that build brown eyes. Each cell contains the exact same letter sequence, and yet every organ behaves differently. How is this possible?

Mechanical cues

Since the mid 1980s, it has been hypothesized that there is a second layer of information on top of the genetic code consisting of DNA mechanical properties. Each of our cells contains two meters of DNA molecules, and these molecules need to be wrapped up tightly to fit inside a single cell. The way in which DNA is folded determines how the letters are read out, and therefore which proteins are actually made. In each organ, only relevant parts of the genetic information are read. The theory suggests that mechanical cues within the DNA structures determine how preferentially DNA folds.
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Brain markers of numeric, verbal, and spatial reasoning abilities found | KurzweilAI

Brain markers of numeric, verbal, and spatial reasoning abilities found | KurzweilAI | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
A new study helps explain how brain structure and chemistry relate to “fluid intelligence” — the ability to adapt to new situations and solve problems one has never encountered before.

The study, reported in an open-access paper in the journal NeuroImage, observed two facets of fluid intelligence*:

Verbal or spatial reasoning was linked to higher concentrations of a compound called NAA (N-acetyl aspartate) in the medial parietal and posterior cingulate cortices of the brain. NAA is a byproduct of glucose metabolism and a marker of energy production in the brain. It was measured with magnetic resonance spectroscopy.
Number-related problem-solving was linked to brain volume in all subjects, measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The analysis involved 211 research subjects, making it the largest study to date linking brain chemistry and intelligence in living humans. A follow-up analysis revealed that this pattern of findings was observed for males and females when analyzed separately.

A similar separation of reasoning abilities has been demonstrated in previous studies, but more studies will be needed to confirm and extend the findings, the researchers said.
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Biology would leave the Game of Thrones dragons grounded

Biology would leave the Game of Thrones dragons grounded | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
The dragons from the Game of Thrones books and TV series are, sadly, a fiction but that does not mean they are not worthy of some serious (OK, semi-serious) scientific thought and musings. Certainly they are not the most unlikely animals that scientists have seriously suggested could fly as made famous by the proposition in 1920 that Stegosaurus could take to the air (yes, that Stegosaurus, the one with the plates).

Fictional creations in science fiction and fantasy can certainly be instructive and a great launch point for discussion and thoughts about what might be possible or plausible in reality. Many ideas and concepts have appeared in fiction before serious scientists looked at them, and some have been provided a real inspiration for later research and technological developments. With that in mind, just how plausible are these animals, in particular given their huge size?

Although the air is full of birds and insects (and the bats at night), powered flight has only evolved a very limited number of times. In addition to these three living groups, the extinct pterosaurs are the only other group known to have evolved this mechanism of locomotion. The diversity of these groups (10,000 species of birds, 2,000 bats and probably millions of insects) points to the success of groups that can make the leap into, and then stay in, the air. Passive gliding is rather more common with numerous lineages of things like flying squirrels, flying frogs, geckoes, snakes, sugar gliders and more making use of some form of wing and a high point to launch and travel between trees efficiently and quickly.
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Russian Hyperloop could become a 21st-century Silk Road

Russian Hyperloop could become a 21st-century Silk Road | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Traveling along the ancient routes of the Silk Road could take months, with danger and disaster never too far from hand. One day, a new Silk Road might exist between China and Europe – and it should be a lot more secure and only take a day to move goods between the two regions. That's at least one of the idealized goals of a new partnership announced between Hyperloop One and Russian company The Summa Group today.

Confirming rumors that began circulating at the end of May, the two organizations announced plans to build a Hyperloop in Moscow that would connect to the city's existing transportation infrastructure, and one day maybe even move beyond those boundaries.

"We are excited for the partnership between the Summa Group, the Russian Government and Hyperloop One to construct a Hyperloop in Moscow," said Shervin Pishevar, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Hyperloop One. "Hyperloop can improve life dramatically for the 16 million people in the greater Moscow area, cutting their commute to a fraction of what it is today. Our longer term vision is to work with Russia to implement a transformative new Silk Road: a cargo Hyperloop that whisks freight containers from China to Europe in a day."
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When Will Computers Have Common Sense? Ask Facebook

When Will Computers Have Common Sense? Ask Facebook | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Facebook is well known for its early and increasing use of artificial intelligence. The social media site uses AI to pinpoint its billion-plus users’ individual interests and tailor content accordingly by automatically scanning their newsfeeds, identifying people in photos and targeting them with precision ads. And now behind the scenes the social network’s AI researchers are trying to take this technology to the next level—from pure data-crunching logic to a nuanced form of “common sense” rivaling that of humans.

AI already lets machines do things like recognize faces and act as virtual assistants that can track down info on the Web for smartphone users. But to perform even these basic tasks the underlying learning algorithms rely on computer programs written by humans to feed them massive amounts of training data, a process known as machine learning. For machines to truly have common sense—to be able to figure out how the world works and make reasonable decisions based on that knowledge—they must be able to teach themselves without human supervision. Though this will not happen on a significant scale anytime soon, researchers are taking steps in that direction. In a blog posted Monday, for example, Facebook director of AI Yann LeCun and research engineer Soumith Chintala describe efforts at unsupervised machine learning through a technique called adversarial training.

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skimmingbooty's comment, June 22, 1:36 AM
Its nice
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These solar cells are so flexible they can wrap around a pencil

These solar cells are so flexible they can wrap around a pencil | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Scientists in South Korea have made ultra-thin solar cells flexible enough to wrap around an average pencil - and the bendy panels could soon be used to could power fitness trackers, smart glasses or be woven into clothes to help power phones on the go.

The cells are around a single micrometre thick and are made from the semiconductor gallium arsenide. Researchers, from the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, stamped the cells directly onto a flexible surface without using an adhesive.

The cells were then "cold welded" to an electrode by applying pressure at 170 degrees Celcius and melting a top layer of material called photoresist that acted as a temporary glue. The photoresist was later peeled away, leaving the direct metal to metal bond.
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A fourth industrial revolution is powering the rise of smart manufacturing

A fourth industrial revolution is powering the rise of smart manufacturing | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
Technology is all around us, and sometimes in us. We experience it daily in the way we stream music, in how we use an app to navigate a museum or a shopping centre, or to check our calorie burning and heart rate. This technology is changing our lifestyle and consumption. There is, of course, a lot more technology around us that we don’t see or touch at source. A wave of technological innovation has started to fundamentally alter how we make stuff. And it signals an era of huge change.

In the 1920s, Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev linked waves of technological change occurring every 50 years or so with cycles in global GDP growth. He suggested that radical inventions could profoundly revolutionise the techno-economic nature of economies. Indeed, the subsequent spawning of countless minor and incremental innovations could penetrate every aspect of the economy.

The idea of Kondratiev waves is that as old technologies exhaust their potential for new ideas to boost the economy, they slow down until a critical mass of new technologies comes to fruition all at once. That then kicks off a new technological wave that is able to trigger a spate of new applications in new processes, new products and new services.
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Tim Cook: Coding should be a 'second language' taught to all children

Tim Cook: Coding should be a 'second language' taught to all children | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
All primary school children should be taught to code alongside learning the alphabet, according to Apple boss Tim Cook.

Speaking at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam, the firm's CEO said coding is "just another language, and just like any other language it should be taught in schools."

Cook also told the audience to "never do something strictly for money" and to "stay hungry." The 55-year-old made the comments during an interview with Neelie Kroes, an ex-european commissioner for digital agenda.

Kroes questioned Cook about the app economy, Apple's work with healthcare companies, and his view of startups in Europe.

"Coding should be a requirement at schools," Cook said. "We are doing our kids a disservice if we are not introducing them to coding."

He added that coding is being "absorbed by everything" and universities should form links with companies to help develop the skills throughout a person’s education.
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Elda Fuentes's curator insight, June 19, 8:45 AM

Cook said. "We are doing our kids a disservice if we are not introducing them to coding."

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Sex is a costly molecular kind of wizardry – why evolve it? – Arunas L Radzvilavicius | Aeon Ideas

At its heart, sex is a process of genetic mixing: it creates unique sets of genes and trait combinations different from either of the two parents. In eukaryotes (organisms such as animals and plants), the molecular machinery of recombination deliberately breaks the chromosomes into chunks, only to reunite the pieces of maternal and paternal origin into novel permutations that are then passed on to the progeny: a remarkable act of molecular wizardry, perfected over billions years of evolutionary tinkering.

But it is not the molecular workings of recombination that captivates biologists the most, it’s the fact that genetic mixing in the form of sex has evolved in the first place, in spite of it being a cumbersome and costly endeavour. Evolutionary theorists agree that cloning, in many ways, is a more efficient mode of reproduction, which, in a world governed by the rules of natural selection, should readily outcompete sex. An asexual female, for example, would produce twice as many offspring as the sexual one, avoiding the burden of bearing males or searching for suitable mating partners.

Sex is unknown in bacteria – the simplest and most ancient living cells on Earth – that reproduce by simply splitting into two. Evolving considerably later, eukaryotes are built of much larger and awfully complex cells, their insides full of organelles and membranous labyrinths buzzing with sophisticated molecular machinery and cargo-transport networks. Unlike bacteria, very few eukaryotic species revert to strict asexuality, and those that do seem to be relatively short-lived on the evolutionary timescale. Sex is costly, but it also appears to be essential for the long-term survival of complex life.

Some of the most talented theorists have striven to understand why. Myriad explanations made their way into science journals and textbooks – from the earliest proposals that sex generates variation and speeds up adaptation, to mathematical models demonstrating that gene shuffling bolsters resistance to parasites and slows down the accumulation of hazardous genetic defects. But even with the overwhelming amount of attention the problem has received over the years, it is still considered unsolved.

Why?

None of the canonical hypotheses is fundamentally wrong; on the contrary, many of them are supported by substantial, and still growing, amounts of experimental evidence. But the classical explanations were developed with modern eukaryotes in mind, and can only explain the modern part of the evolutionary puzzle – why sex persists in contemporary complex organisms. They do not tell us why and how sex first arose.
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Essential feature of life detected outside our solar system

Essential feature of life detected outside our solar system | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
A molecule that exhibits a specific property associated with all life on Earth has been discovered in interstellar space for the first time. Displaying the quality of chirality, or "handedness", this molecule has a distinct one-way molecular geometry found only in biological building blocks like amino acids, proteins, and enzymes. This discovery may help provide answers to the origins of homochirality, whereby all a substance's molecules are of the same chiral form, and why it appears so important for biology.

The molecule in question, propylene oxide (CH3CHOCH2), was discovered near the center of our Galaxy in the region known as Sagittarius B2 (Sgr B2) using the Parkes radio telescope in Australia and the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) in West Virginia. Sited in an area of star-forming dust and gas, the molecule was identified as part of an on-going collaborative search effort known as the Prebiotic Interstellar Molecular Survey.

"This is the first molecule detected in interstellar space that has the property of chirality, making it a pioneering leap forward in our understanding of how prebiotic molecules are made in the Universe and the effects they may have on the origins of life," said Brett McGuire, a chemist with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Virginia.
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Can 'super coral' save the Great Barrier Reef? - BBC News

Can 'super coral' save the Great Barrier Reef? - BBC News | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
As fears mount over the Great Barrier Reef's worst coral bleaching event in recorded history, biotechnologists in Australia are looking at ways to grow "super coral" that is more tolerant of global warming, writes Ian Lloyd Neubauer.

Heat-resistant coral is not an artificial construct. The mutation occurs naturally in the remote Kimberley region of north-west Australia, where the world's longest tropical tides create super-heated tide pools where corals have found ways to adapt and survive.

"The coral of the Kimberley is very unique because it's exposed to extreme temperature swings on a daily basis and to direct sunlight," says Dr Verena Schoepf, a University of Western Australia researcher and lead author on the first peer-reviewed study on heat-resistant coral.

"They can tolerate conditions most corals can't, which makes them very interesting to study because they're already coping with climate change," she says.

Coral bleaching occurs when changes in temperature, light or nutrients make coral eject tiny photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae that live on their exoskeletons. The absence of zooxanthellae - coral's primary food source - kicks off a downhill spiral that turns coral white and brittle, and makes it vulnerable to disease and colonisation by seaweed.

Bleaching is not necessarily fatal for coral. When record-high sea temperatures saw more than half the Great Barrier Reef affected by mass bleaching events in 1998 and 2002, 95% of all affected coral recovered once sea temperatures normalised.

But with high sea temperatures along Australia's coast prolonged by greenhouse gas emissions and the El Niño weather pattern, experts fear the Great Barrier Reef won't have time to recover before it's hit by another bleaching event.
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rakingwoodcock's comment, June 13, 4:48 AM
Superior
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Japanese stride toward genetically modified super plant | Sci-Tech | DW.COM | 10.06.2016

Japanese stride toward genetically modified super plant | Sci-Tech | DW.COM | 10.06.2016 | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
The two rows in the picture above show the identical plant, arabidopsis, grown under identical conditions. The top row, however, was modified genetically to alter the plant's biological clock, increasing its biomass and resilience significantly.

The results, published by Oxford in the journal Plant & Cell Physiology, dazzled the team of researchers at Japan's RIKEN applied science institute, who said they had made a giant step towards the creation of genetic super plants.

"This was a proof-of-concept study, and I'm satisfied because the data were very beautiful and clearly demonstrate that this approach works," said Norihito Nakamichi, who co-led the work with his colleague Hitoshi Sakakibara at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science.
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Period. Full Stop. Point. Whatever It’s Called, It’s Going Out of Style

Period. Full Stop. Point. Whatever It’s Called, It’s Going Out of Style | Knowmads, Infocology of the future | Scoop.it
LONDON — One of the oldest forms of punctuation may be dying

The period — the full-stop signal we all learn as children, whose use stretches back at least to the Middle Ages — is gradually being felled in the barrage of instant messaging that has become synonymous with the digital age

So says David Crystal, who has written more than 100 books on language and is a former master of original pronunciation at Shakespeare’s Globe theater in London — a man who understands the power of tradition in language

The conspicuous omission of the period in text messages and in instant messaging on social media, he says, is a product of the punctuation-free staccato sentences favored by millennials — and increasingly their elders — a trend fueled by the freewheeling style of Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter

“We are at a momentous moment in the history of the full stop,” Professor Crystal, an honorary professor of linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor, said in an interview after he expounded on his view recently at the Hay Festival in Wales

“In an instant message, it is pretty obvious a sentence has come to an end, and none will have a full stop,” he added “So why use it?”
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