Once, personal technology and the Internet meant that we didn’t need permission to compute, communicate and innovate. Now, governments and tech companies are systematically restricting our liberties, and creating an online surveillance state. In many cases, however, we’re letting it happen, by trading freedom for convenience and (often the illusion of) security. Yes, we need better laws and regulations. But what steps can we take as individuals to be more secure and free — to take back the permissions we’re losing?
Tagged with “technology” (203)
On April fool’s day Aleks Krotoski explores the notion of mischief in the digital world.
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."
Acclaimed science-fiction writer Bruce Sterling will again deliver the Closing Remarks at SXSW Interactive. Sterling’s state-of-the-industry, state-of-the-world rants are one of the true highlights of the event, so don’t miss the 2013 version (vision).
We’re now entering the third industrial revolution, Anderson said. The first one, which began with the spinning jenny in 1776, doubled the human life span and set population soaring. From the demographic perspective, "it’s as if nothing happened before the Industrial Revolution."
The next revolution was digital. Formerly industrial processes like printing were democratized with desktop publishing. The "cognitive surplus" of formerly passive consumers was released into an endless variety of personal creativity. Then distribution was democratized by the Web, which is "scale agnostic and credentials agnostic." Anyone can potentially reach 7 billion people.
The third revolution is digital manufacturing, which combines the gains of the first two revolutions. Factory robots, which anyone can hire, have become general purpose and extremely fast. They allow "lights-out manufacturing," that goes all night and all weekend.
"This will reverse the arrow of globalization," Anderson said. "The centuries of quest for cheaper labor is over. Labor arbitrage no longer drives trade." The advantages of speed and flexibility give the advantage to "locavore" manufacturing because "Closer is faster." Innovation is released from the dead weight of large-batch commitments. Designers now can sit next to the robots building their designs and make adjustments in real time.
Thus the Makers Movement. Since 2006, Maker Faires, Hackerspaces, and TechShops (equipped with laser cutters, 3D printers, and CAD design software) have proliferated in the US and around the world. Anderson said he got chills when, with the free CAD program Autodesk 123D, he finished designing an object and moused up to click the button that used to say "Print." This one said "Make." A 3D printer commenced building his design.
Playing with Minecraft, "kids are becoming fluent in polygons." With programs like 123D Catch you can take a series of photos with your iPhone of any object, and the software will create a computer model of it. "There is no copyright on physical stuff," Anderson pointed out. The slogan that liberated music was "Rip. Mix. Burn." The new slogan is "Rip. Mod. Make."
I asked Anderson, "But isn’t this Makers thing kind of trivial, just trailing-edge innovation?" "That’s why it’s so powerful," Anderson said. "Remember how trivial the first personal computers seemed?"
— by Stewart Brand
As part of the BBC World Service’s “What if…?” season, biologist Dr Andrew Holding meets some of the people straddling the line between man and machine.
Huffed and duffed from http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/discovery
On this very special episode of the Frequency Myke Hurley and Anna Debenham step in for Dan and Haddie. They discuss a selection of the day’s news, explain some Britishisms and try to solve the ‘Great Tea Debate’ once and for all.
RSA Keynote 7th Feb 2013; 18:00 (full recording including audience Q&A)
Technologist and writer Ben Hammersley explores the role of the internet and digital technologies in today’s workplace.
As social media, mobile devices, constant communication, online sharing, and open collaboration become the norms in the rest of our lives, the traditional workplace is failing to adapt.
How do our traditional workplace models conflict with our new internet-driven expectations of how we might live and work to our full potential, and how might companies and organisations learn to adapt in the 21st century?
Speaker: Ben Hammersley, Prime Minister’s Ambassador to TechCity, contributing editor, Wired UK, innovator in residence, Goldsmiths, University of London and author of ‘64 Things You Need to Know Now for Then’.
Chair: Matthew Taylor, chief executive, RSA.
Owners of 3-D printers can create all sorts of imaginative items — cups, tools, jewelry. All they need is a design and the printer. But now some gun parts are being produced with this technology, alarming some in the burgeoning 3-D printing industry.
Jen Robbins talks about the very early days of web design, O’Reilly, GNN, wrestling with the technology and more.