Simon Elisha & Simone Brunozzi discuss various aspects of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) offering. Each podcast will cover a new service, existing service and "black-belt" tips.
Tagged with “computing” (61)
George Dyson: No Time Is There—- The Digital Universe and Why Things Appear To Be Speeding Up - The Long Now
When the digital universe began, in 1951 in New Jersey, it was just 5 kilobytes in size. "That’s just half a second of MP3 audio now," said Dyson. The place was the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. The builder was engineer Julian Bigelow. The instigator was mathematician John von Neumann. The purpose was to design hydrogen bombs.
Bigelow had helped develop signal processing and feedback (cybernetics) with Norbert Wiener. Von Neumann was applying ideas from Alan Turing and Kurt Gödel, along with his own. They were inventing and/or gates, addresses, shift registers, rapid-access memory, stored programs, a serial architecture—all the basics of the modern computer world, all without thought of patents. While recuperating from brain surgery, Stanislaw Ulam invented the Monte Carlo method of analysis as a shortcut to understanding solitaire. Shortly Von Neumann’s wife Klári was employing it to model the behavior of neutrons in a fission explosion. By 1953, Nils Barricelli was modeling life itself in the machine—virtual digital beings competed and evolved freely in their 5-kilobyte world.
"In the few years they ran that machine, from 1951 to 1957, they worked on the most difficult problems of their time, five main problems that are on very different time scales—26 orders of magnitude in time—from the lifetime of a neutron in a bomb’s chain reaction measured in billionths of a second, to the behavior of shock waves on the scale of seconds, to weather prediction on a scale of days, to biological evolution on the scale of centuries, to the evolution of stars and galaxies over billions of years. And our lives, measured in days and years, is right in the middle of the scale of time. I still haven’t figured that out."
Julian Bigelow was frustrated that the serial, address-constrained, clock-driven architecture of computers became standard because it is so inefficient. He thought that templates (recognition devices) would work better than addresses. The machine he had built for von Neumann ran on sequences rather than a clock. In 1999 Bigelow told George Dyson, "Sequence is different from time. No time is there." That’s why the digital world keeps accelerating in relation to our analog world, which is based on time, and why from the perspective of the computational world, our world keeps slowing down.
The acceleration is reflected in the self-replication of computers, Dyson noted: "By now five or six trillion transistors per second are being added to the digital universe, and they’re all connected." Dyson is a kayak builder, emulating the wood-scarce Arctic natives to work with minimum frame inside a skin craft. But in the tropics, where there is a surplus of wood, natives make dugout canoes, formed by removing wood. "We’re now surrounded by so much information," Dyson concluded, "we have to become dugout canoe builders. The buzzword of last year was ‘big data.’ Here’s my definition of the situation: Big data is what happened when the cost of storing information became less than the cost of throwing it away."
Michael and Markus discuss what makes a good R&D manager and how to potentially become an R&D manager. You will learn what some of the essential skills are, what the challenges are, and what the ‘mission/vision/strategy thing’ is actually good for.
"As a working hypothesis to explain the riddle of our existence," says Freeman Dyson, "I propose that our universe is the most interesting of all possible universes, and our fate as human beings is to make it so." One of the characteristics of diversity—in science, in technology, in biology, in culture, in software, or in children—is that the underlying programming tends to be open source, or connected in all directions. Freeman Dyson and George Dyson think in all directions, but each filters through a particular lens: Freeman Dyson writes about the future and George Dyson writes about the past. This discussion, moderated by Tim O’Reilly, goes in both directions. Questions from the audience are invited either spontaneously or in advance. (Unfortunately the third Dyson, Esther, was unable to participate, having been stuck in Texas.)
This keynote presentation was recorded at the Open Source Convention (OSCON) 2004 in Portland, Oregon.
When we try do social science on the Internet, it is vital to know what is solid and what is highly changeable. Outsiders and newcomers tend to be awed and misled by the illusions of ‘technology’ - which seem rock-solid and immutable, like a child’s view of home and religion.
But the ‘technologies’ of the computer world are extremely changeable, and give play to motivated assumptions and decisions. Like gasoline mixed with air, this an explosive mix. Fast-evolving software ideas, churned by human political agendas, power today’s wildly changing product and Internet world.
If software is successful, it steers the path that many users take, and selects among many possibilities to further the creator’s agenda.
Suppressing the other possibilities may also be part of the agenda.
[For the present purposes I propose a simple definition of politics: THE CLASH AND RECONCILIATION OF AGENDAS (which agendas in turn may be motivated by prestige, power, profit or ideology). This definition would seem to cover the range: electoral politics, office and palace intrigue, war (Clausewitz’ continuation of politics by other means), and now the steering of products and programs.]
We will glance at some examples of technology politics before 1950 (Brunel, Tesla, Armstrong, von Braun) and then at software politics among some two dozen individuals and companies in the computer and Internet world - the clash and resolution of their agendas (so far).
Software agendas generally play out through projects and products, some of which can change more drastically than others. The digital media conventions (called by laymen ‘ICTs’) are by far the most changeable - and thus political.
Theodor Holm Nelson invented the term "hypertext" in 1963 and published it in 1965, and is a pioneer of information technology. He also coined the words hypermedia, transclusion, virtuality, intertwingularity and teledildonics. The main thrust of his work has been to make computers easily accessible to ordinary people. His motto is:
A user interface should be so simple that a beginner in an emergency can understand it within ten seconds.
Nelson is currently a visiting professor at Oxford University, and a philosopher who works in the fields of information, computers, and human-machine interfaces. He founded Project Xanadu in 1960 with the goal of creating such a system on a computer network, further documented in his 1974 book Computer Lib / Dream Machines and the 1981 Literary Machines. Much of his adult life has been devoted to working on Xanadu and advocating it.
For years, Google has kept mostly silent about the technology that has made it one of the leaders in cloud computing. Now, for the first time, Google has opened the doors of its data centers to the outside.
The driving force behind modern computers, Alan Turing was born a hundred years ago. He launched the digital age, founded the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence, and helped the British win WWII by cracking the Nazi "Enigma" codes. He was persecuted by British authorities for the crime of being homosexual, and committed suicide at age 41. His life ended tragically, but his brilliance lives in the computers we use every day. We celebrate the Alan Turing Year.
The physical reality of our digital world - Future Tense - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
We often think of our digital world as something that’s not about physical stuff, but about things that happen out there in the air, in space. We speak of cyber space and cloud-computing. But how much of our digital infrastructure is grounded in physical reality? And what are some of the future implications of the growing push to move more of our data into cloud based technology?
Andrew Blum, Correspondent for Wired and Contributing Editor to Metropolis. Author of ‘Tubes: Behind The Scenes At The Internet’.
Dr danah boyd, Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research and Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture and Communication at New York University.
Ted Striphas, Associate Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Indiana University’s Department of Communication and Culture.
John Naughton, Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology at the Open University in the UK and columnist for The Observer Newspaper.
Gary Cook, Senior Policy Analyst, Cool IT Campaign, Greenpeace International.
Rich Wolski, Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder of Eucalyptus Systems Inc. And Professor of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Title: Tubes: Behind The Scenes At The Internet
Author: Andrew Blum
Publisher: Viking (Penguin Australia)
Andrew Blum’s website (http://andrewblum.net/)
Rich Wolski’s webpage (http://www.cs.ucsb.edu/~rich/)
Ted Striphas website (http://www.indiana.edu/~cmcl/faculty/striphas.shtml)
GreenPeace Cool IT Challenge (http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/climate-change/cool-it/)
danah boyd’s website (http://www.danah.org/)
John Naughton’s Guardian Profile (http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/johnnaughton)
Who governs digital trust?
Doctorow framed the question this way: "Computers are everywhere. They are now something we put our whole bodies into—-airplanes, cars—-and something we put into our bodies—-pacemakers, cochlear implants. They HAVE to be trustworthy."
Sometimes humans are not so trustworthy, and programs may override you: "I can’t let you do that, Dave." (Reference to the self-protective insane computer Hal in Kubrick’s film "2001." That time the human was more trustworthy than the computer.) Who decides who can override whom?
The core issues for Doctorow come down to Human Rights versus Property Rights, Lockdown versus Certainty, and Owners versus mere Users.
Apple computers such as the iPhone are locked down—-it lets you run only what Apple trusts. Android phones let you run only what you trust. Doctorow has changed his mind in favor of a foundational computer device called the "Trusted Platform Module" (TPM) which provides secure crypto, remote attestation, and sealed storage. He sees it as a crucial "nub of secure certainty" in your machine.
If it’s your machine, you rule it. It‘s a Human Right: your computer should not be overridable. And a Property Right: "you own what you buy, even if it what you do with it pisses off the vendor." That’s clear when the Owner and the User are the same person. What about when they’re not?
There are systems where we really want the authorities to rule—-airplanes, nuclear reactors, probably self-driving cars ("as a species we are terrible drivers.") The firmware in those machines should be inviolable by users and outside attackers. But the power of Owners over Users can be deeply troubling, such as in matters of surveillance. There are powers that want full data on what Users are up to—-governments, companies, schools, parents. Behind your company computer is the IT department and the people they report to. They want to know all about your email and your web activities, and there is reason for that. But we need to contemplate the "total and terrifying power of Owners over Users."
Recognizing that we are necessarily transitory Users of many systems, such as everything involving Cloud computing or storage, Doctorow favors keeping your own box with its own processors and storage. He strongly favors the democratization and wide distribution of expertise. As a Fellow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (who co-sponsored the talk) he supports public defense of freedom in every sort of digital rights issue.
"The potential for abuse in the computer world is large," Doctorow concluded. "It will keep getting larger."
Hugo de Garis is the past director of the Artificial Brain Lab (ABL) at Xiamen University in China. Best known for his doomsday book The Artilect War, Dr. de Garis has always been on my wish-list of future guests on Singularity 1 on 1. Finally, a few weeks ago I managed to catch him for a 90 minutes interview via Skype.
During our discussion with Dr. de Garis we cover a wide variety of topics such as: how and why he got interested in artificial intelligence; Moore’s Law and the laws of physics; the hardware and software requirements for artificial intelligence; why cutting edge experts are often missing the writing on the wall; emerging intelligence and other approaches to AI; Dr. Henry Markram‘s Blue Brain Project; the stakes in building AI and his concepts of ArtIlects, Cosmists and Terrans; cosmology, the Fermi Paradox and the Drake equation; the advance of robotics and the political, ethical, legal and existential implications thereof; species dominance as the major issue of the 21st century; the technological singularity and our chances of surviving it in the context of fast and slow take-off.
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