Knowmads, Infocology of the future
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Internet Access Is Not a Human Right'Technology is a means of enabling freedom, not an end in itself.

Internet Access Is Not a Human Right'Technology is a means of enabling freedom, not an end in itself. | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |


FROM the streets of Tunis to Tahrir Square and beyond, protests around the world last year were built on the Internet and the many devices that interact with it. Though the demonstrations thrived because thousands of people turned out to participate, they could never have happened as they did without the ability that the Internet offers to communicate, organize and publicize everywhere, instantaneously.

It is no surprise, then, that the protests have raised questions about whether Internet access is or should be a civil or human right. The issue is particularly acute in countries whose governments clamped down on Internet access in an attempt to quell the protesters. In June, citing the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, a report by the United Nations’ special rapporteur went so far as to declare that the Internet had “become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights.” Over the past few years, courts and parliaments in countries like France and Estonia have pronounced Internet access a human right.

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Are we alone? Setting some limits to our uniqueness

Are we alone? Setting some limits to our uniqueness | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Are humans unique and alone in the vast universe? This question—summed up in the famous Drake equation—has for a half-century been one of the most intractable and uncertain in science.

But a new paper shows that the recent discoveries of exoplanets combined with a broader approach to the question makes it possible to assign a new empirically valid probability to whether any other advanced technological civilizations have ever existed.

And it shows that unless the odds of advanced life evolving on a habitable planet are astonishingly low, then human kind is not the universe's first technological, or advanced, civilization.

The paper, published in Astrobiology, also shows for the first time just what "pessimism" or "optimism" mean when it comes to estimating the likelihood of advanced extraterrestrial life.

"The question of whether advanced civilizations exist elsewhere in the universe has always been vexed with three large uncertainties in the Drake equation," said Adam Frank, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester and co-author of the paper. "We've known for a long time approximately how many stars exist. We didn't know how many of those stars had planets that could potentially harbor life, how often life might evolve and lead to intelligent beings, and how long any civilizations might last before becoming extinct."

"Thanks to NASA's Kepler satellite and other searches, we now know that roughly one-fifth of stars have planets in "habitable zones," where temperatures could support life as we know it. So one of the three big uncertainties has now been constrained."

Frank said that the third big question—how long civilizations might survive—is still completely unknown. "The fact that humans have had rudimentary technology for roughly ten thousand years doesn't really tell us if other societies would last that long or perhaps much longer," he explained.
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When myth meets reality: fabled beasts and real-life creatures

When myth meets reality: fabled beasts and real-life creatures | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Fantastic creatures have fascinated humans for thousands of years. When a new skeleton of the extinct horned mammal Elasmotherium sibiricum was discovered recently, its common name –the “Siberian Unicorn” – quickly resurfaced. But this “unicorn” was very different to the creature of Western mythology.

Although the new fossil suggests these creatures roamed the steppes of Kazakhstan as little as 29,000 years ago, they were more like giant hairy rhinos than the legendary white horses crowned with narwhal tusks. Elasmotherium may have lived alongside humans, but that doesn’t mean they must have been the source of our unicorn stories. Similarly, when we look for the origins of other supposedly mythological monsters, we can sometimes find parallels with real animals and sometimes we find clues they were simply products of a lively imagination.

Sailors throughout history brought back reports of mermaids and these were most likely based on sightings of dugongs or manatees, large sea mammals with forelimbs and turnable heads. Even Christopher Columbus is thought to have confused them with mermaids having “masculine traits”.

By the 19th century, fairground owners claimed to have acquired specimens of mermaids and mermen that more closely appeared to match the creatures of legend. It was a heyday of belief in mythological creatures when Europeans became more aware of many extinct species and exotic animals from the rest of the world that seemed to explain the origins of many myths.

Of course, the fairground mermaids were fakes. They typically consisted of the dried, shrivelled torso of a monkey stitched to the body of a fish, probably a salmon. It is difficult to see how anyone could be convinced by such an object, even in a dimly-lit fairground tent, yet they were popular and there was a small industry based in Japan for producing these exhibits.
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Bizarre fourth state of water discovered

Bizarre fourth state of water discovered | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
You already know that water can have three states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. But scientists at the Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) have discovered that when it's put under extreme pressure in small spaces, the life-giving liquid can exhibit a strange fourth state known as tunneling.

The water under question was found in super-small six-sided channels in the mineral beryl, which forms the basis for the gems aquamarine and emerald. The channels measure only about five atoms across and function basically as cages that can each trap one water molecule. What the researchers found was that in this incredibly tight space, the water molecule exhibited a characteristic usually only seen at the much smaller quantum level, called tunneling.

Basically, quantum tunneling means that a particle, or in this case a molecule, can overcome a barrier and be on both sides of it at once – or anywhere between. Think of rolling a ball down one side of a hill and up another. The second hill is the barrier and the ball would only have enough energy to climb it to the height from which it was originally dropped. If the second hill was taller, the ball wouldn't be able to roll over it. That's classical physics. Quantum physics and the concept of tunneling means the ball could jump to the other side of the hill with ease or even be found inside the hill – or on both sides of the hill at once.

"In classical physics the atom cannot jump over a barrier if it does not have enough energy for this," ORNL instrument scientist Alexander Kolesnikov tells Gizmag – Kolesnikov is lead author on a paper detailing the discovery published in the April 22 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters. But in the case of the beryl-trapped water his team studied, the water molecules acted according to quantum – not classical – laws of physics.

"This means that the oxygen and hydrogen atoms of the water molecule are 'delocalized' and therefore simultaneously present in all six symmetrically equivalent positions in the channel at the same time," says Kolesnikov. "It's one of those phenomena that only occur in quantum mechanics and has no parallel in our everyday experience."
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Our gigantic problem with portions: why are we all eating too much?

Our gigantic problem with portions: why are we all eating too much? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
If you want to see how inflated our portion sizes have become, don’t go to the supermarket – head to an antique shop. You spot a tiny goblet clearly designed for a doll, only to be told it is a “wine glass”. What look like side plates turn out to be dinner plates. The real side plates resemble saucers.

Back in a modern kitchen, you suddenly notice how vast everything is – 28cm has become a normal diameter for a dinner plate, which in the 1950s would have been 25cm. Just because we are eating off these great expanses of china does not of course mean that we have to serve ourselves bigger portions. But as it happens, we usually do. Brian Wansink is a psychologist (author of Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think) who has done numerous experiments to prove what you would hope common sense might already tell us: that oversized tableware makes us consume bigger portions. A large ice-cream scoop makes you take more ice-cream; a short, squat glass makes you pour more juice. Because it doesn’t look like much, we still feel we are consuming roughly the same amount. Wansink calls this the size-contrast illusion. The “real danger of these kitchen traps”, writes Wansink, is that “almost every single person in the world believes they’re immune to them”.
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When the new guy’s a robot

When the new guy’s a robot | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
The world’s largest ad agency has hired its first artificially intelligent creative director – the rookie at McCann Erickson’s Japan office is named AI-CD β.

The move reminded me of an episode in the US TV series Mad Men. It is 1969, and the fictional ad agency installs its first computer, a room-filling IBM machine. “Why not let every client who sets foot in that door know that this agency has entered the future?” says one of the partners at the firm, proudly. The creative department stands grimly by, wondering if that future will include them.

In 2013, Oxford economists released a widely cited projection that 47 per cent of jobs were at risk of automation. The higher-ups at McCann figured humans have two options: stick to high-level intellectual labour or get comfortable with working for computers.

But their experiment bears out that the relationship will probably be more complicated than that.

As it happens, AI-CD β was inspired by Netflix, says Shun Matsuzaka, who heads up McCann Millenials, the taskforce that cooked up the new hire. Netflix collects massive piles of detailed data on what its viewers watch and like. When the streaming company wanted to come up with a new original series, it used an algorithm to determine content with the best chance of success – before investing in the award-winning remake of the political thriller House of Cards.
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How Neuroscientists Explain the Mind-Clearing Magic of Running

How Neuroscientists Explain the Mind-Clearing Magic of Running | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
It is something of a cliché among runners, how the activity never fails to clear your head. Does some creative block have you feeling stuck? Go for a run. Are you deliberating between one of two potentially life-altering decisions? Go for a run. Are you feeling mildly mad, sad, or even just vaguely meh? Go for a run, go for a run, go for a run.

The author Joyce Carol Oates once wrote in a column for the New York Times that “in running the mind flees with the body … in rhythm with our feet and the swinging of our arms.” Filmmaker Casey Neistat told Runner’s World last fall that running is sometimes the only thing that gives him clarity of mind. “Every major decision I’ve made in the last eight years has been prefaced by a run,” he told the magazine. But I maybe like the way a runner named Monte Davis phrased it best, as quoted in the 1976 book The Joy of Running: “It’s hard to run and feel sorry for yourself at the same time,” he said. “Also, there are those hours of clear-headedness that follow a long run.”
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You can now be identified by your ‘brainprint’ with 100% accuracy | KurzweilAI

You can now be identified by your ‘brainprint’ with 100% accuracy | KurzweilAI | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Binghamton University researchers have developed a biometric identification method called Cognitive Event-RElated Biometric REcognition (CEREBRE) for identifying an individual’s unique “brainprint.” They recorded the brain activity of 50 subjects wearing an electroencephalograph (EEG) headset while looking at selected images from a set of 500 images.

The researchers found that participants’ brains reacted uniquely to each image — enough so that a computer system that analyzed the different reactions was able to identify each volunteer’s “brainprint” with 100 percent accuracy.

In their original brainprint study in 2015, published in Neurocomputing (see ‘Brainprints’ could replace passwords), the research team was able to identify one person out of a group of 32 by that person’s responses, with 97 percent accuracy. That study only used words. Switching to images made a huge difference.

High-security sites

It’s only a three-point difference, but going from 97 to 100 percent makes possible a reliable system for high-security situations, such as “ensuring the person going into the Pentagon or the nuclear launch bay is the right person,” said Assistant Professor of Psychology Sarah Laszlo. “You don’t want to be 97 percent accurate for that, you want to be 100 percent accurate.”

Laszlo says brain biometrics are appealing because they can be cancelled (meaning the person can simple do another EEG session) and cannot be imitated or stolen by malicious means, the way a finger or retina can (as in the movie Minority Report).

“If someone’s fingerprint is stolen, that person can’t just grow a new finger to replace the compromised fingerprint — the fingerprint for that person is compromised forever. Fingerprints are ‘non-cancellable.’ Brainprints, on the other hand, are potentially cancellable. So, in the unlikely event that attackers were actually able to steal a brainprint from an authorized user, the authorized user could then ‘reset’ their brainprint,” Laszlo explained.
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Exploding the myth of the scientific vs artistic mind

Exploding the myth of the scientific vs artistic mind | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
It’s a stereotype, but many of us have made the assumption that scientists are a bit rigid and less artistic than others. Artists, on the other hand, are often seen as being less rational than the rest of us. Sometimes described as the left side of the brain versus the right side – or simply logical thinking versus artistic creativity – the two are often seen as polar opposites.

Neuroscience has already shown that everyone uses both sides of the brain when performing any task. And while certain patterns of brain activity have sometimes been linked to artistic or logical thinking, it doesn’t really explain who is good at what – and why. That’s because the exact interplay of nature and nurture is notoriously difficult to tease out. But if we put the brain aside for a while and just focus on documented ability, is there any evidence to support the logic versus art stereotype?

Psychological research has approached this question by distinguishing between two styles of thinking: convergent and divergent. The emphasis in convergent thinking is on analytical and deductive reasoning, such as that measured in IQ tests. Divergent thinking, however, is more spontaneous and free-flowing. It focuses on novelty and is measured by tasks requiring us to generate multiple solutions for a problem. An example may be thinking of new, innovative uses for familiar objects.

Studies conducted during the 1960s suggested that convergent thinkers were more likely to be good at science subjects at school. Divergent thinking was shown to be more common in the arts and humanities.

However, we are increasingly learning that convergent and divergent thinking styles need not be mutually exclusive. In 2011, researchers assessed 116 final-year UK arts and science undergraduates on measures of convergent and divergent thinking and creative problem solving. The study found no difference in ability between the arts and science groups on any of these measures. Another study reported no significant difference in measures of divergent thinking between arts, natural science and social science undergraduates. Both arts and natural sciences students, however, rated themselves as being more creative than social sciences students did.
Louis Shih's curator insight, April 23, 5:22 AM


Ivon Prefontaine's curator insight, April 23, 12:50 PM
It is not a binary of left or right, but a continuous conversation between left and right hemispheres.
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Software makes it easy to design and print creatures - Futurity

Software makes it easy to design and print creatures - Futurity | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
A software tool makes it easy for anybody to quickly design a custom robot—including its movements—and print out its parts with a 3D printer. You assemble the parts like a puzzle. Add electronic motors to the joints, install a control unit and battery, and then unleash your creature.

The first step is to create a basic skeleton for the desired robot, specifying how many extremities the figure will have and how many segments there will be in the backbone. This skeleton can be modified at will by extending or shortening its segments or breaking them up with new joints.

The primary challenge of the research project was to design the robot’s movements so that they would also work outside the digital realm.

“That’s the hard part of this work, the part where technical innovation is needed,” says Bernhard Thomaszewski of Disney Research Zurich. From a user’s perspective, he says, the tools offered by their program are comparable with those used in the animation of purely digital figures.

However, unlike in digital animations, the robots must obey the laws of physics. In particular, physical robots cannot balance in every pose that is digitally possible, and there is a limit to the accelerations that can be produced by the motors.

“Without support from a computer, it is extremely difficult for users to take these restrictions into account when planning the movements, and this quickly becomes frustrating for the layman,” says Thomaszewski. “This is precisely the task that our software automates through simulation and numerical optimization.
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Ernesto Rivera's curator insight, April 24, 11:18 PM

Con una herramienta de software se hace fácil el diseñar rápidamente un robot incluyendo sus movimientos.

Luego, imprimir sus partes con una impresora 3D.

Es como, colocar las piezas de un rompecabezas.

Añadir motores electrónicos a las articulaciones, instalar la unidad de control con la batería.

Y luego dar vida para la criatura robótica.

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The Last Frontiers of AI: Can Scientists Design Creativity and Self-Awareness?

The Last Frontiers of AI: Can Scientists Design Creativity and Self-Awareness? | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Is creativity a uniquely human trait? What about self-awareness or intuition?

Defining the line between human and machine is becoming blurrier by the day as startups, big companies, and research institutions all compete to build the next generation of advanced AI.

This arms race is bringing a new era of AI that won’t prove its power by mastering human games, but by independently exhibiting ingenuity and creativity.

Sophisticated AI is undertaking increasingly complex tasks like stock market predictions, research synthesis, political speech writing—don’t worry, this article was still written by a human—and companies are beginning to pair deep learning with new robotics and digital manufacturing tools to create “smart manufacturing.”

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.
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How Animals Think

How Animals Think | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
For 2,000 years, there was an intuitive, elegant, compelling picture of how the world worked. It was called “the ladder of nature.” In the canonical version, God was at the top, followed by angels, who were followed by humans. Then came the animals, starting with noble wild beasts and descending to domestic animals and insects. Human animals followed the scheme, too. Women ranked lower than men, and children were beneath them. The ladder of nature was a scientific picture, but it was also a moral and political one. It was only natural that creatures higher up would have dominion over those lower down.Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection delivered a serious blow to this conception. Natural selection is a blind historical process, stripped of moral hierarchy. A cockroach is just as well adapted to its environment as I am to mine. In fact, the bug may be better adapted—cockroaches have been around a lot longer than humans have, and may well survive after we are gone. But the very word evolution can imply a progression—New Agers talk about becoming “more evolved”—and in the 19th century, it was still common to translate evolutionary ideas into ladder-of-nature terms.
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Trying to Save the World From Climate Change Is Not Radical

Trying to Save the World From Climate Change Is Not Radical | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
A group of 21 youth climate activists scored a major victory in the courts on Friday: The plaintiffs, aged 8 to 19, allege unconstitutional discrimination by a federal government more interested in burning fossil fuels than protecting the rights to life, liberty, and property of young people. The Oregon federal judge hearing the case, Thomas Coffin, said they have a point.

Denying the federal government’s motion to dismiss the “relatively unprecedented lawsuit,” Judge Coffin wrote:

The court must accept the allegations as true and those allegations plausibly allege harm, though widespread, that is concrete. … the intractability of the debates before Congress and state legislatures and the alleged valuing of short term economic interest despite the cost to human life, necessitates a need for the courts to evaluate the constitutional parameters of the action or inaction taken by the government.

In other words, given the ultra-polarized political stalemate on climate change, a bunch of kids suing the government over decades of unnecessarily slow action may be the best shot humanity has left at addressing the problem before dangerous changes are locked in. The suit is a radical challenge to the status quo in an era of radical environmental change.

“The future of our generation is at stake,” said 16-year-old plaintiff Victoria Barrett in a statement. “People label our generation as dreamers, but hope is not the only tool we have.”
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Precise embroidered circuits bring next-gen smart clothing closer to reality

Precise embroidered circuits bring next-gen smart clothing closer to reality | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Ohio State University researchers have created embroidered circuits using metallic thread that's just 0.1 mm thick. By embedding different patterns, the tech could be used to create everything from a t-shirt that boosts your cellphone signal, to a hat that tracks brain activity.
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Production begins on a REAL hoverboard

Production begins on a REAL hoverboard | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
When it was first announced at the end of last year, the hovering ArcaBoard was viewed with skepticism by many people. Since then, however, the device has been publicly demonstrated – and it has now reportedly entered production.

For details on just how the ArcaBoard works, check out our original article.

What it boils down to is 272 hp and 430 lb (1,913 N) of thrust being generated by 36 high-power electric ducted fans. This can levitate a standing 110-kg (243-lb) human passenger up to an altitude of 20 inches (50 cm), moving them horizontally at a top speed of 20 km/h (12.5 mph) – although only for about six minutes, or a range of about 2 km (a little over a mile). After that, the battery has to be recharged for 35 minutes, or an optional extra battery can be swapped in on the spot.
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Brain's 'atlas' of words revealed - BBC News

Brain's 'atlas' of words revealed - BBC News | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Scientists in the US have mapped out how the brain organises language.

Their "semantic atlas" shows how, for example, one region of the brain activates in response to words about clothing and appearance.

The researchers found that these maps were quite similar across the small number of individuals in the study, even down to minor details.

The work, by a team at the University of California, Berkeley, is published in the journal Nature.

It had previously been proposed that information about words' meaning was represented in a group of brain regions known as the semantic system.

But the new work uncovers the fine detail of this network, which is spread right across the outer layer of the human brain.

The results could eventually help those who are unable to speak, such as victims of stroke or brain damage, or motor neuron diseases.

Volunteers - including lead author Alex Huth - listened to more than two hours of stories from a US radio programme while remaining still inside a functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner.
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Why the Renaissance man – and woman – is making a comeback

Why the Renaissance man – and woman – is making a comeback | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
As anyone who has visited the London Science Museum’s current exhibition will know, Leonardo da Vinci is famed as an artist, mathematician, inventor, writer … the list goes on. He was a figure who did not see disciplines as a chequerboard of independent black and white tiles, but a vibrant palette of colour ready to be combined harmoniously and gracefully. Today, the polymath may seem like a relic of the past. But with an emerging drive towards interdisciplinarity in research and across the tech and creative sectors, the Renaissance man – and woman – is making a comeback.

Often cited as the archetypal “Renaissance man”, Leonardo came from an era in which the well-rounded individual, prolific and curious of mind, was highly valued. A comprehensive education was the marker of a gentleman. Universities were seats of broad learning, tasked with preparing future apprentices by encouraging them to interrogate and question many aspects of science, philosophy, theology and the arts.

The typical contemporary university is rather different. Targeted learning dominates today, particularly in the UK. Students are forced to specialise earlier and earlier – to be a doctor before you’re 30, you’ll need to know that you want to practice medicine by the time you’re 16. Undergraduate students are trying desperately to align themselves with what seems like a universal drive towards hyper-specialism. A 2015 report by Universities UK, revealed a boom in higher education entrants pursuing specialised subject areas such as business and administration studies, engineering and the biological sciences. In the same year, combined award degree enrolment saw a sharp decline of 54%.
This is perhaps to be expected. Incoming students are simply responding to a professional world that is extremely competitive, and so see hyperspecialism as a way of distinguishing themselves from the crowd. But monomath ubiquity has its pitfalls.
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You Just Lived Through the Hottest March on Record. And February. And January. And December. And ...

You Just Lived Through the Hottest March on Record. And February. And January. And December. And ... | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
October. November. December. January. February. And now March.

For the sixth month in a row, we’ve had a month that has broken the global high temperature record. And not just broken it, but shattered it, blasting through it like the previous record wasn’t even there.

According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, March 2016 was the hottest March on record, going back 136 years. It was a staggering 1.28°C above average across the planet.* The previous March record, from 2010, was 0.92° above average. This year took a huge jump over that.

Welcome to the new normal, and our new world.
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Hirsutes you sir: but that beard might mean more to men than women

Hirsutes you sir: but that beard might mean more to men than women | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
What is the point of a beard, evolutionarily speaking? Children, women, and a whole bunch of men manage just fine without one. But take a walk down some streets these days and you’ll be confronted with all sizes and shapes of groomed (and less groomed) facial hair – from designer stubble to waxed moustaches and hipster beards.

When we see men paying attention to their appearance, it’s easy to assume that they’re just angling for partners. But our research on beards and voices shows that beards probably evolved at least partly to help men boost their standing among other men.

Compared to males and females of many other primates, men and women on average look very different from each other – partly thanks to men’s facial hair. And when we see differences between males and females, the explanation often boils down to evolution through sexual selection – the process that favours traits that boost mating opportunities.

But interestingly, women don’t seem that interested in beards. While some studies have found that women like a bit or even a lot of facial hair on men, other studies have reported that they prefer the clean-shaven look. The lack of consistent evidence means we can’t conclude that beards evolved because women were attracted to them.
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We can reprogram life. How to do it wisely

We can reprogram life. How to do it wisely | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
For four billion years, what lived and died on Earth depended on two principles: natural selection and random mutation. Then humans came along and changed everything — hybridizing plants, breeding animals, altering the environment and even purposefully evolving ourselves. Juan Enriquez provides five guidelines for a future where this ability to program life rapidly accelerates. "This is the single most exciting adventure human beings have been on," Enriquez says. "This is the single greatest superpower humans have ever had."
citricchangeable's comment, April 25, 11:59 PM
Thats fascinating...
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Dali helps scientists crack our brain code - BBC News

Dali helps scientists crack our brain code - BBC News | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Scientists at Glasgow University have established a world first by cracking the communication code of our brains.

Pioneering research in the field of cognitive neuroimaging has revealed how brains process what we see.

The work has been led by Prof Philippe Schyns, the head of Glasgow's school of psychology, with more than a little help from Voltaire and Salvador Dali.

How Dali's mind worked is a matter of continuing conjecture. But one of his works has helped unlock how our minds work. Or more precisely, how our brains see.

Prof Schyns explains: "Our main interest was to study how the brain works as an information processing machine.

"Typically we observe brain signals but it is quite difficult to know what they do.

"Do they code information from the visual world - do they not? If so, how?

"Do they send information from one region of the brain to another region of the brain? If so, how?"

Which is where Salvador Dali comes in. And for that matter Voltaire.

In 1940, Dali completed his painting "Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire".

And there at the heart of the image is Voltaire. Or is it?

His bust is what some people see. Others see Voltaire's "eyes" as the heads of two figures - usually a pair of nuns.

This visual ambiguity was of course Dali's intention. But by asking test subjects which image they saw - or neither - the researchers were able to map how the brains processed the information.

As expected, the right side of the brain handled the left side of the image and vice versa.

But Prof Schyns says the research revealed much greater detail: "We found very early on, after around 100 milliseconds of processing post-stimulus, that the brain processes very specific features such as the left eye, the right eye, the corner of the nose, the corner of the mouth.

"But then subsequent to this, at about 200 milliseconds {...} we also found that the brain transfers features across the two hemispheres in order to construct a full representation of the stimulus."
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Why Physics Is Not a Discipline - Issue 35: Boundaries - Nautilus

Why Physics Is Not a Discipline - Issue 35: Boundaries - Nautilus | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Have you heard the one about the biologist, the physicist, and the mathematician? They’re all sitting in a cafe watching people come and go from a house across the street. Two people enter, and then some time later, three emerge. The physicist says, “The measurement wasn’t accurate.” The biologist says, “They have reproduced.” The mathematician says, “If now exactly one person enters the house then it will be empty again.”

Hilarious, no? You can find plenty of jokes like this—many invoke the notion of a spherical cow—but I’ve yet to find one that makes me laugh. Still, that’s not what they’re for. They’re designed to show us that these academic disciplines look at the world in very different, perhaps incompatible ways.

There’s some truth in that. Many physicists, for example, will tell stories of how indifferent biologists are to their efforts in that field, regarding them as irrelevant and misconceived. It’s not just that the physicists were thought to be doing things wrong. Often the biologists’ view was that (outside perhaps of the well established but tightly defined discipline of biophysics) there simply wasn’t any place for physics in biology.

But such objections (and jokes) conflate academic labels with scientific ones. Physics, properly understood, is not a subject taught at schools and university departments; it is a certain way of understanding how processes happen in the world. When Aristotle wrote his Physics in the fourth century B.C., he wasn’t describing an academic discipline, but a mode of philosophy: a way of thinking about nature. You might imagine that’s just an archaic usage, but it’s not. When physicists speak today (as they often do) about the “physics” of the problem, they mean something close to what Aristotle meant: neither a bare mathematical formalism nor a mere narrative, but a way of deriving process from fundamental principles.
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The Beautiful Complexity of the Cosmic Web

The Beautiful Complexity of the Cosmic Web | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Scientists first discovered the so-called “cosmic web” less than a decade ago. Since then, various questions have lingered, perhaps foremost among them: What does the cosmic web look like? A new visualization by Kim Albrecht at the Center for Complex Network Research helps to address this intriguing mystery.

But first, let’s back up: What exactly is the cosmic web? In short, it is the vast network formed by all of the galaxies in the Universe and the web-like strands linking them together. Composed of invisible hydrogen gas filaments, these intergalactic connections make up the majority of ordinary matter in the Universe, and trace the distribution of dark matter as well.

To observe these cosmic threads directly is challenging, to say the least. Astrophysicists have managed to image enough pieces of the cosmic web that predicted models of its structure seem sufficiently reliable. Last year, the researchers behind the Illustris project used these models to construct a 2D simulation of the cosmic web, visualizing key data such as gas density, temperature, and velocity.
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A toxic web: what the Victorians can teach us about online abuse

A toxic web: what the Victorians can teach us about online abuse | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Jude Milhon, a cyberfeminist who died in 2003, was one of the first women to witness online harassment. Writing in Wired magazine, she urged women to “toughen up”. “Whether we’re set upon by zealots or bigots or abusively correct politicos, we have to learn to defend ourselves,” she said. The year was 1995, and Jude already had 20 years of experience with harassment. In the early 1970s, she was active on Community Memory, a digital classifieds service in libraries and record shops in Berkeley, California. To reduce the abusive comments, the system charged 25 cents per post.

Online harassment might feel like a recent issue, but it’s an enduring problem with 45 years of history. In 1984, 13 years after the invention of email, the social psychologist Sara Kiesler found computer manuals lamenting people’s terrible behaviour online. In the 1980s subscribers on The WELL, an early internet forum, developed block lists to ignore abusive messages.

The issue became a widespread public concern in the 1990s. Julian Dibbell’s article A Rape in Cyberspace caught the eye of the law professor Lawrence Lessig, who then wrote a book about internet governance. The writers of Wired Women published first-person essays on women’s experiences, including harassment and peer support. By the end of the dotcom era, companies relied on tens of thousands of moderators to maintain online relations, a mix of volunteer and paid work that continues today.
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A popular video game now randomizes your race and gender — and many white men are furious

A popular video game now randomizes your race and gender — and many white men are furious | Knowmads, Infocology of the future |
Rust is a popular first-person survival video game where you start out completely naked, left to a barren environment to build yourself tools, weapons, and a home as other players try to do the same — and potentially try to kill you and steal your stuff. It's a tense game, one where your friends can suddenly turn against you and basically ruin everything you worked for just for their own personal gain.

But it's not the betrayal and tension that has gamers upset with Rust. Instead, it's a new feature recently added to the game, which has 500,000 players each week, by developer Garry Newman: Your character's gender and race are now randomized. So even if you're a white man in real life, you now may be forced to play a black woman.

Men, particularly white men, are not happy. Newman explained the situation in the Guardian, characterizing the reaction to the change as "extreme":
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How university students infantilise themselves – Jonathan Zimmerman | Aeon Opinions

In June 1962, 59 student activists met in Port Huron, Michigan to draft a manifesto of their core principles. They condemned racism in the United States and the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. Most of all, though, they indicted their own institution, the modern US university, for ignoring and suppressing their voice. Students needed to ‘wrest control of the educational process from the administrative bureaucracy’, The Port Huron Statement declared. Otherwise, the empty suits who ran the university would drown its emancipatory potential in a sea of bland rituals and senseless rules.

We heard echoes of these sentiments in the protests that seized US campuses last November. Like their forebears in the 1960s, today’s students blasted university leaders as slick mouthpieces who cared more about their reputations than about the people in their charge. But unlike their predecessors, these protesters demand more administrative control over university affairs, not less. That’s a childlike position. It’s time for them to take control of their future, instead of waiting for administrators to shape it.

Most of the protests last fall focused on racism at the universities themselves, rather than in US society generally. Nearly every formal demand issued by the students included a request for a new university office, rule or regulation. Administrators typically complied, too, marking yet another departure from the 1960s. Back then, university officials regarded student protesters as an existential threat to the university itself. Today’s administrators embraced the protesters, promising to ‘do better’ – and, not incidentally, to provide more administrators. Some schools pledged to hire ‘Chief Diversity Officers’; others agreed to institute new diversity training and programming; still others announced new multicultural and counselling centres, aimed especially at assisting minority students.
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