Thursday, December 18, 2014

Friday Thinking, 19 December 2014

Hello all –Friday Thinking is curated in the spirit of sharing. Many thanks to those who enjoy this. J

Merry Seasonings - one and all. 

The world we are entering is one in which the most powerful global flows will be ideas and digital capital, not goods, services, and traditional capital. Adapting to this will require shifts in mindsets, policies, investments (especially in human capital), and quite possibly models of employment and distribution. No one knows fully how all of this will play out. But attempting to understand where the technological forces and trends are leading us is a good place to start.
MICHAEL SPENCE - Labor’s Digital Displacement

Narrative Science’s co-founder and CTO Kristian Hammond predicts that “more than 90 percent” of news will be written by computers in 15 years.

Approximately 8.5 percent of the articles on Wikipedia were written by a bot. Lsjbot, created by Sverker Johansson of Sweden, writes 10,000 new articles for the site every day.

Computer-written literature goes far beyond short news content and Wikipedia articles, though. Economist Phil Parker, for example, doesn’t write most of his books. He instead uses complex algorithms that can author an entire book, cover to cover, in just a few minutes. The algorithms essentially mimic the thought process behind formulaic writing, making it very easy and efficient to crank out new books all the time.
It’s Happening: Robots May Be The Creative Artists Of The Future

First, today’s smartphones truly are “super computers”
During the iPhone-6 launch weekend, Apple sold 25-times more CPU transistors (in one weekend) than were in all the PCs on Earth in 1995.
As I wrote in Abundance, the smartphone you have in your hand or in your pocket gives you access to more information than President Clinton had access to while he was in office.
In 1992, you could expect to pay $222 for a computer with 1 million transistors. Today, 1 million transistors cost a measly 6 cents.
In the next five years, 80% of the adults on Earth will have a smart phone.
Peter Diamandis - Mobile is Eating the World

By year-end 2016, more than $2 billion in online shopping will be performed exclusively by mobile digital assistants.
By 2017, a significant disruptive digital business will be launched that was conceived by a computer algorithm.
By 2017, U.S. customers' mobile engagement behavior will drive mobile commerce revenue in the U.S. to 50 percent of U.S. digital commerce revenue.
By 2017, 70 percent of successful digital business models will rely on deliberately unstable processes designed to shift as customer needs shift.
By 2017, 50 percent of consumer product investments will be redirected to customer experience innovations.
By 2017, nearly 20 percent of durable goods e-tailers will use 3D printing (3DP) to create personalized product offerings.
By 2018, digital business will require 50 percent less business process workers and 500 percent more key digital business jobs, compared with traditional models.
By 2018, the total cost of ownership for business operations will be reduced by 30 percent through smart machines and industrialized services.
By 2020, developed world life expectancy will increase by 0.5 years due to widespread adoption of wireless health monitoring technology.
By 2020, retail businesses that utilize targeted messaging in combination with internal positioning systems (IPS) will see a five percent increase in sales.
Gartner Reveals Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2015 and Beyond

...a new economic landscape is beginning to emerge in which a relatively few large, concentrated players will provide infrastructure, platforms, and services that support many fragmented, niche players. In this way, both large players and small will coexist and reinforce each other.

Some parts of the economy will be more affected by fragmentation than others, and more quickly, but the fragmentation will be enduring rather than transitory. In this new landscape, much of the world’s economic value will be created by the relationships among participants. Therefore, it is less useful to look at any one company than to consider the dynamics that will develop among the large and small players.

This changing landscape will have implications for companies and individuals. Large companies will likely play one of three roles in this new landscape: infrastructure providers, aggregation platforms, or agent businesses. Today’s large companies will need to assess whether the market for their core products or services is susceptible to fragmentation and choose where to focus in the future. The actions they take today can help to position themselves for the role they choose to play in the future.

In order to survive and thrive, businesses should consider the following:
1. Which parts of the economy are fragmenting?
2. Which parts of the economy are concentrating?
3. How will various ecosystem players interact? the rapidly changing future environment, performance improvement will come not from control but from opening up, embracing knowledge flows, maximizing learning, and accessing leading capabilities and resources wherever they reside.
Deloitte Center for the Edge - The hero’s journey through the landscape of the future

I'd like to begin with a true story.
I was recently conducting a job interview for a Guardian role, and I asked the interviewee, who had worked only in print journalism, how he thought he'd cope working in digital news. In reply he said, "Well, I've got a computer. I've been using computers for years."

His answer was funny, but also revealing: clearly he believed that digital is just a technological development; just a new kind of word processing. In fact, digital is a huge conceptual change, a sociological change, a cluster bomb blowing apart who we are and how our world is ordered, how we see ourselves, how we live. It's a change we're in the middle of, so close up that sometimes it's hard to see. But it is deeply profound and it is happening at an almost unbelievable speed.

I'd like to talk about what this change is doing to journalism, and the opportunities that are possible if you are truly open to the web. I'd also like to look at how many journalists' resistance to this change is damaging their own interests, as well as the interests of good journalism; and how there is more a need than ever for the journalist as a "truth-teller, sense-maker, explainer".
The rise of the reader: journalism in the age of the open web

The future of the book is very much in the order to book as information service. Instead of the book as a fixed package of repeatable and uniform character suited to the market with pricing, the book is increasingly taking on the character of the service, an information service, and the book as an information service is tailor-made and custom built.

And the future work of mankind will be mainly raking and tidying and clipping the old planet, putting it in shape, reconstructing it pretty much the way it was when the pilgrims landed.

... most scientific problems are really not concept problems but percept problems, that most scientists are blocked in their perceptions by preconceptions and prepossessions.
McLuhan - 1966 - The Medium is the Massage. 

With spreadsheets, you have to calculate. With visualizations, you have to interpret. With narratives, all you have to do is read.
We started Narrative Science in order to solve a big problem—giving people a fast and simple way to understand data. While companies have invested billions sourcing and aggregating data, spreadsheets and dashboards as mechanisms to understand data simply aren’t cutting it. People want the stories the data supports—about their operations, about their business, about their life. And, what better way to tell stories than through language?

That’s why we are focused on creating exceptional software, starting with our automated narrative generation platform, Quill, that transforms data into meaningful and insightful narratives people can simply read. Quill enables organizations to spend less time crunching numbers and more time providing their employees and customers with actionable information that, ultimately, makes them smarter.
Narrative Science

This is a very short article talking about Vernor Vinge’s prediction of the Singularity.
Singularity Inventor Holds to his Predicted Date
Vernor Vinge is a retired professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Sand Diego State University.  He is also an accomplished since fiction writer having penned such classics as A Fire Upon the Deep, A Deepness in the Sky, and Rainbow’s End.

Among futurists he is perhaps most well known for first using the term Singularity.  This of course refers to the point at which technology surpasses human intelligence and through self improving recursive corrections undergoes an asymptotic intelligence explosion.

Vinge first used this term in a speech given at a NASA symposium in 1993. At that  fateful speech Vinge said the following of the Singularity:

The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century. I argue that we are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence. ….
Just so I’m not guilty of a relative-time ambiguity, let me more specific: I’ll be surprised if this event occurs before 2005 or after 2030.
[reaching] out to Dr. Vinge to see if he still held to his initial predication that the singularity would occur prior to 2030. That of course is a mere 15 years from now and 15 years less than 2045, which is Kurzweil’s prediction.

“Yes, I’d be surprised if the Singularity hasn’t happened by 2030,” said Vinge.
“Among plausible showstoppers,” he adds “If some kind of disaster, say MAD warfare, were to destroy civilization before the Singularity comes along.”

This is a MUST WATCH. A 13 min video by Stuart Kauffman which brilliantly summarizes his recent thinking - this is vitally important for all scientists and anyone interested in complexity.
Entretien avec Stuart Kauffman

The future of work? Here’s the thought of the 2001 winner of the The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
Labor’s Digital Displacement
Digital technologies are once again transforming global value chains and, with them, the structure of the global economy. What do businesses, citizens, and policymakers need to know as they scramble to keep up?

Digitally enabled supply chains initially increased efficiency and dramatically shortened lead times. Capital was mobile; labor less so. Economic activity (production, research, design, etc.) moved to any accessible country or region that had relatively inexpensive labor and human capital. With only a slight lag, complexity became manageable, and global supply chains’ linear model (something produced in country A is consumed in country B) gave way to a more complex model with more fragmented but more efficient supply networks.

Now comes a second, potentially even more powerful, wave of digital technology that is replacing labor in increasingly complex tasks. This process of labor substitution and disintermediation has been underway for some time in service sectors – think of ATMs, online banking, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, mobile payment systems, and much more. This revolution is spreading to the production of goods, where robots and 3D printing are displacing labor.

It is important to understand the economics of these technologies. The vast majority of the cost comes at the start, in the design of hardware (like sensors) and, more important, in creating the software that produces the capability to carry out various tasks. Once this is achieved, the marginal cost of the hardware is relatively low (and declines as scale rises), and the marginal cost of replicating the software is essentially zero. With a huge potential global market to amortize the upfront fixed costs of design and testing, the incentives to invest are compelling.

In other words, unlike the preceding wave of digital technology, which motivated firms to gain access to and deploy underutilized pools of valuable labor around the world, the driving force in this round is cost reduction via the replacement of labor.

And we are just at the threshold of real machine learning.
Why Neural Networks Look Set to Thrash the Best Human Go Players for the First Time
One of the last bastions of human mastery over computers is about to fall to the relentless onslaught of machine learning algorithms.
Computers are rapidly beginning to outperform humans in more or less every area of endeavor. For example, machine vision experts recently unveiled an algorithm that outperforms humans in face recognition. Similar algorithms are beginning to match humans at object recognition too. And human chess players long ago gave up the fight to beat computers.

But there is one area where humans still triumph. That is in playing the ancient Chinese game of Go. Computers have never mastered this game. The best algorithms only achieve the skill level of a very strong amateur player which the best human players easily outperform.

That looks set to change thanks to the work of Christopher Clark and Amos Storkey at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. These guys have applied the same machine learning techniques that have transformed face recognition algorithms to the problem of finding the next move in a game of Go. And the results leave little hope that humans will continue to dominate this game.

This is a very interesting complementary concept to the emerging economy of the digital environment - I think this is a Must Read - for anyone interested in alternative business models. Think Outside the Boss
Platform Cooperativism vs. the Sharing Economy
The backlash against unethical labor practices in the “collaborative sharing economy” has been overplayed. Recently, The Washington Post, New York Times and others started to rail against online labor brokerages like Taskrabbit, Handy, and Uber because of an utter lack of concern for their workers. At the recent Digital Labor conference, my colleague McKenzie Wark proposed that the modes of production that we appear to be entering are not quite capitalism as classically described. “This is not capitalism,” he said, “this is something worse.”

But just for one moment imagine that the algorithmic heart of any of these citadels of anti-unionism could be cloned and brought back to life under a different ownership model, with fair working conditions, as a humane alternative to the free market model.

Take, for example, Uber’s app, with all its geolocation and ride ordering capabilities. Why do its owners and shareholders have to be the main benefactors of such platform-based labor brokerage? Developers, in collaboration with local, worker-owner cooperatives could design such a self-contained program for mobile phones. Despite its meteoric rise, $300 million in VC-backing (and its $18 billion evaluation bubble), as well as massive international reach, there is nothing inevitable about Uber’s long-term success. There’s no magic sauce when it comes to developing such a piece of software; it’s not rocket science. Of course, technology is only one part of the equation and instead of letting techno-determinsim run its course, I’d rather point to the long history of worker-owned cooperatives, EP Thompson and Robert Owen.

There isn’t just one, inevitable future of work. Let us apply the power of our technological imagination to practice forms of cooperation and collaboration. Worker–owned cooperatives could design their own apps-based platforms, fostering truly peer-to-peer ways of providing services and things, and speak truth to the new platform capitalists….

Here is a truly disruptive commons-based version of Uber.
La’Zooz: The Decentralized Proof-of-Movement ‘Uber’ Unveiled
Taxi unions (with their ever-attendant government backing) have unleashed oppression on ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft around the world. Now it seems that they’ve brought upon themselves the same fate that Hollywood eventually met when it used the state to crush Napster: a decentralized version of their original target.

“It was only a matter of time before someone decided that two disruptive concepts — ride-sharing and digital currencies — were two great tastes that go great together,” said Eitan Katchka, one of over 50 La’Zooz contributors. “We use cryptocurrency technology to incentivize early adopters to create the critical mass of users needed for the ride-sharing service to work smoothly, as well as to create a truly decentralized transportation solution.”

now, the ride-sharing phenomenon has its BitTorrent equivalent called La’Zooz.
Announced today at the Inside Bitcoins conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, La’Zooz functions on its own native crypto tokens, aptly called Zooz. They’ll be housed on the Bitcoin Blockchain and—get this—mined by proof-of-movement.

Anyone can join the La’Zooz transportation web network. To join as a miner, you download the app, connect your phone’s global positioning system (GPS) and begin to earn Zooz tokens as you drive over 20 kmh. You could also earn Zooz by contributing code or design to the app’s development. You can even earn the ride-sharing crypto tokens just by getting your friends to join.

Speaking of a platform of connectivity - here’s something that will be vital for a globally functional digital environment that works as an infrastructure and commons.
Out in the Open: The Little-Known Open Source OS That Rules the Internet of Things
You can connect almost anything to a computer network. Light bulbs. Thermostats. Coffee makers. Even badgers. Yes, badgers.

Badgers spend a lot of time underground, which make it difficult for biologists and zoologists to track their whereabouts and activities. GPS, for example, doesn’t work well underground or in enclosed areas. But about five years ago, University of Oxford researchers Andrew Markham and Niki Trigoni solved that problem by inventing a wireless tracking system that can work underground. Their system is clever, but they didn’t do it alone. Like many other scientists, they turned to open source to avoid having to rebuild fundamental components from scratch. One building block they used is an open source operating system called Contiki.

“Contiki was a real enabler as it allowed us to do rapid prototyping and easily shift between different hardware platforms,” says Markham, now an associate professor at the University of Oxford.

Contiki isn’t nearly so well-known as Windows or OS X or even Linux, but for more than a decade, it has been the go-to operating system for hackers, academics, and companies building network-connected devices like sensors, trackers, and web-based automation systems. Developers love it because it’s lightweight, it’s free, and it’s mature. It provides a foundation for developers and entrepreneurs eager to bring us all the internet-connected gadgets the internet of things promises, without having to develop the underlying operating system those gadgets will need.

Perhaps the biggest thing Contiki has going for it is that it’s small. Really small. While Linux requires one megabyte of RAM, Contiki needs just a few kilobytes to run. Its inventor, Adam Dunkels, has managed to fit an entire operating system, including a graphical user interface, networking software, and a web browser into less than 30 kilobytes of space. That makes it much easier to run on small, low powered chips–exactly the sort of things used for connected devices–but it’s also been ported to many older systems like the Apple IIe and the Commodore 64.

Lots of us hear feel the torrent of information all around us. But this bit of research from Pew - should speak to our greater need to have our curiosity quenchable.
Americans Feel Better Informed Thanks to the Internet
Rather than crushing them with too much information and making it hard to find useful material, most Americans say the internet and cell phones have brought benefits in learning, sharing and diversifying the flow of information into their lives. A new survey by the Pew Research Center finds that the vast majority of Americans believe their use of the web helps them learn new things, stay better informed on topics that matter to them, and increases their capacity to share ideas and creations with others.

These generally positive attitudes are buttressed by the view that people like having so much information at their fingertips, rather than feeling information overload. Moreover, this positive judgment extends to the broader culture. Most believe that average Americans and U.S. students are better informed than in the past.

The survey of 1,066 internet users shows that  87% of online adults say the internet and cell phones have improved their ability to learn new things, including 53% who say it has improved this “a lot.” Internet users under age 50, those in higher income households, and those with higher educational attainment are especially likely to say the internet and cell phones help them “a lot” when it comes to learning new things.
Asked if they enjoy having so much information at their fingertips or if they feel overloaded, 72% of internet users report they like having so much information, while just 26% say they feel overloaded.

Speaking about becoming better informed here is a great 27 min video that provides a very nice survey of the current state and some future potential of the quantified self - the combination of new ‘wearable’ and sensor technology and Big Data. Worth the view for anyone who wants to know a bit more about health and the Quantified Self.
Future of You
From wearable activity trackers to personal genetics, explore the new digital health revolution that is transforming the field of health care, the scope of scientific research and radically changing how we take care of ourselves and manage our health information.

Here is an update on Google’s efforts to bring broadband Internet to more people.
Google's internet balloons are staying aloft longer than anyone expected
The company is announcing a number of milestones as it moves forward with its ambitious X Labs project
When Google announced Project Loon in June of last year many balloon experts were skeptical of its chances. The stated goal was that the balloons that would last 100 days or more in the air, but nobody was routinely getting anywhere near that kind of longevity. Much larger NASA balloons typically stayed in flight for less than 60 days. Google was aiming to nearly double that, and at a much lower cost. "Absolutely impossible—just talk to anybody in the scientific community," veteran balloonist Per Lindstrand told Wired. "Even three weeks is very rare."

Today, Google is announcing a number of achievements, the most important of which it's dubbed The Marathoner, a balloon launched in July from New Zealand that came back to Earth in Chile 134 days later. "When we started out, 10 days was an achievement. Then we hit 30, then 70 and now it is commonplace for us to get into the 100 day realm," said Mahesh Krishnaswamy, who leads Project Loon’s manufacturing efforts.

This is a must view on a number of counts - first is the content and methodology; second is the lovely dynamic graphics - which enables a view of continent of origin or of discipline (see link at the end).
Thought Leaders 2014: the most influential thinkers
Who is influencing the way we think today? Whose ideas are determining ours? With the help of software-based calculations, the GDI and MIT researcher Peter Gloor present the 2014 Thought Leaders ranking. It measures the global importance of creative minds.

To find answers to these simple questions, we initiated a complex process of evaluation, using software-based calculations to produce a simple "influence rank" – a measure of the global importance of creative minds.
The more dynamic map is here (click on continent or discipline to see colour codes and click on thought leader to see the list):

This was made in 2012 - and is an excellent exploration of the future of learning - it’s less than 13 min.
Future Learning | Mini Documentary | GOOD
Students are the future, but what's the future for students? To arm them with the relevant, timeless skills for our rapidly changing world, we need to revolutionize what it means to learn. Education innovators like Dr. Sugata Mitra, visiting professor at MIT; Sal Khan, founder of Khan Academy; and Dr. Catherine Lucey, Vice Dean of Education at UCSF, are redefining how we engage young minds for a creatively and technologically-advanced future. Which of these eduvators holds the key for unlocking the learning potential inside every student?

And if 13 min is too long - here’s an fantastic 2 min video and should be a must view for anyone interested in the future of learning.
What is 21st century education?
Our world is changing at an unprecedented pace. To prepare our students, lessons must go beyond the "3 R's" and foster 21st century skills. Skills like critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity will be essential for students to take on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Speaking of making better learners - here’s some recent research.
Playing action video games can boost learning
A new study shows for the first time that playing action video games improves not just the skills taught in the game, but learning capabilities more generally.

“Prior research by our group and others has shown that action gamers excel at many tasks. In this new study, we show they excel because they are better learners,” explained Daphne Bavelier, a research professor in brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. “And they become better learners,” she said, “by playing the fast-paced action games.”

According to Bavelier, who also holds a joint appointment at the University of Geneva, our brains keep predicting what will come next—whether when listening to a conversation, driving, or even preforming surgery. “In order to sharpen its prediction skills, our brains constantly build models, or ‘templates,’ of the world,” she explained. “The better the template, the better the performance. And now we know playing action video game actually fosters better templates.”

Here are a couple of new publications from Deloitte’s Center for the Edge. Well worth the look.
Passion at work
Cultivating worker passion as a cornerstone of talent development
By cultivating the traits of worker passion in their workforce, organizations can make sustained performance gains and develop the resilience they need to withstand continuous market challenges and disruptions.

Up to 87.7 percent of America’s workforce is not able to contribute to their full potential because they don’t have passion for their work. Less than 12.3 percent of America’s workforce possesses the attributes of worker passion. This “passion gap” is important because passionate workers are committed to continually achieving higher levels of performance. In today’s rapidly changing business environment, companies need passionate workers because such workers can drive extreme and sustained performance improvement—more than the one-time performance “bump” that follows a bonus or the implementation of a worker engagement initiative. These workers have both personal resilience and an orientation toward learning and improvement that helps organizations develop the resilience needed to withstand and grow stronger from continuous market challenges and disruptions.

Unfortunately, not only do many companies not recognize the value of worker passion, they view it with suspicion. Many work environments are actually hostile to it. The types of processes and policies designed to minimize risk taking and variances from standard procedures effectively discourage passion. Passionate workers in search of new challenges and learning opportunities are viewed as unpredictable, and thus risky.

This report uses new survey data to debunk five myths about passionate workers and offer predictive evidence of how companies can cultivate passion in the workforce.
Specifically, this report reveals the unexpected profile of passionate workers, their motivations, and the reasons they are so important for a resilient workforce. It also identifies tactics for finding and developing these qualities within the workforce, including tangible steps for how companies can create work environments that unlock worker passion at all levels of the existing workforce.

Stewarding Passion in the workplace will be fundamental if we want to be able to scale learning.
The lifetime learner
A journey through the future of postsecondary education
The increasingly disparate needs and expectations of individual learners are fueling the growth of a rich ecosystem of semi-structured, unorthodox learning providers at the “edges” of the traditional higher educational system.
A new business landscape is emerging wherein a multitude of small entities will bring products and services to market using the infrastructure and platforms of large, concentrated players. The forces driving this are putting new and mounting pressures on organizations and individuals while also opening up new opportunities. But traditional postsecondary educational institutions are not supporting individuals in successfully navigating this not-too-distant future, nor are the educational institutions immune to these forces. Perhaps more than any other sector, postsecondary education is being affected by changing demand as the learning needs and preferences of the individual consumer rapidly evolve. Increasingly, individuals need both lifelong learning and accelerated, on-demand learning, largely as a response to the pressures of the broader evolving economic landscape.

Rarely seen amid gross national statistics on the skills gap, employability, completion rates, and tuition hikes is a serious discussion of the unmet, and increasingly disparate, needs and expectations of individual learners. The costs to the individual are increasing, and the payoff is less certain. Students of all ages are more comfortable with technology and are less tied to traditional notions of the academy as fewer American adults between the ages of 18 and 22 achieve a four-year, full-time, campus-based degree.1 At the same time, technological advances reduce the lifespan of specific skills, and an increasingly globalized and automated workforce needs to continuously learn and retrain.

What does this mean for traditional players and the educational landscape? Similar to what is occurring more broadly, the emerging landscape will consist of a few large, concentrated players that will provide infrastructure, platforms, and services to support a wide array of fragmented niche providers of content, formats, environments, and experiences. Existing institutions—educational institutions, educational publishers, and corporate training departments—would do well to understand the diversity of the emerging landscape and the needs and preferences they reflect in order to help define sustainable roles in this new landscape. Existing institutions will likely have to choose what roles they can play sustainably and where they should be integrating emerging players and tools to support the learning needs of the future.

Now why are passion and learning becoming increasingly important in the 21st Century? Here is a very interesting morsel to think about. The article provides opportunity to listen to computer created music, writing and visual art - judge for yourself.
I think the best way to think about the advent of augmented cognition is that the tools for creative work will enable hugely more powerful means of implementing and augmenting our creativity. The digital environment requires new forms of literacy to both function in conventional types of work but also in order to think more creatively and produce whole new ways to think the currently unthinkable and create the currently uncreateable.
It’s Happening: Robots May Be The Creative Artists Of The Future
It’s no secret that the world is being automated and that millions of people are losing work as a result. With a properly programmed machine, any unskilled laborer can be replaced.

Factory workers, cashiers, drivers — these are all employees at risk of losing their jobs to more efficient workers with silicon chips and no desire for a paycheck. Even some white collar professionals should be worried.

But creative people are safe, aren’t they? No machine or piece of software can emulate the passion of an artist, right? Wrong, sort of. Human creativity is important, but — sorry guys — the robots are coming for you too. With artificial creativity, software can craft music and write literature, arguably just as well as humans can.

It’s unlikely that musicians will lose fans to machines any time soon. But in the future, software may serve as a welcome addition to the creative process, helping composers produce new music and even predicting big hits. Our shopping trips may be serenaded by original, computer-generated compositions, and we just might find ourselves buying computer-written music on iTunes.

As for writing, the transition is already happening in some areas. News content, particularly in the sports and finance spaces, is increasingly automated. But don’t hold your breath for a world without human writers.

Computers can already create stunning visual art, and the possibilities in that realm are limited only by their ability to continue to learn about the world and portray it in an artistic way.

For anyone interested in Independent games - this is a great 20 video presenting scenes and discussing the design of a long awaited game called ‘The Witness’ by Jonathan Blow. This is wonderfully informative on the art dimensions of game making and in particular a more adult (not that kind of adult) intellectual game - that is also a joy to the eye.
The Art of The Witness
This talk is a behind-the-scenes look at the art creation process for Jonathan Blow's The Witness. Speaking from the perspective of an indie developer with a very different philosophy from most big studios, Luis Antonio will show you how a small art team focused on understanding the core essentials of gameplay, and allowed the visual language to be an extension of it. He will go over the thought process used to create such a strong visual style and how it was implemented, by working closely with architects and landscape designers throughout development.

Here is one thought leader - and an interesting 75 min video interview - this is a question of our sense of reality. Hockenberry’s program is called Science and Story - a lovely recognition that without story - must of us wouldn’t understand science - the key is where is the truth - despite the fiction?
Hallucinations with Oliver Sacks
Famed neurologist Oliver Sacks joined award-winning journalist John Hockenberry to discuss Sacks' latest book, which explores the bewitching and surreal world of hallucinations. The conversation canvassed the rich cultural history and contemporary science of the hallucinatory experience, and also touched on Sacks’ own early psychedelic forays that helped convince him to dedicate his life to neurology and to write about the myriad riddles of the human mind.

I’ve been a huge fan of George Lakoff ever since I read is book “Moral Politics” which I think is still the most brilliant analysis of the moral frameworks between Conservative and Progressive views of the world. He was a student of Noam Chomsky - but broke away because he didn’t agree with Chomsky’s proposition of a universal brain-embodied grammar function. In this 1hr 30min presentation he begins with a discussion of the neural basis of ‘schemas’ that form primary conceptual metaphors from which our language arises. He continues his discussion to elaborate on what frames are and more. It’s long but well worth the view for anyone interested in how Metaphors provide the structures for how we reason.
George Lakoff on Embodied Cognition and Language
Speaker: George Lakoff, Cognitive Science and Linguistics Professor at UC Berkeley
Lecture: Cascade Theory: Embodied Cognition and Language from a Neural Perspective
Here is a 60 min video by Lakoff on Moral Politics - really a discussion of framing and metaphorical thought
Moral Politics
UC Berkeley professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics George Lakoff explores how successful political debates are framed by using language targeted to people's values instead of their support for specific government programs

And speaking of hallucination, metaphor and reality - here’s a very accessible discussion of one view of physics - this is definitely worth the read.
10 Reasons Our Universe Might Actually Be Virtual Reality
Physical realism is the view that the physical world we see is real and exists by itself, alone. Most people think this is self-evident, but physical realism has been struggling with the facts of physics for some time now. The paradoxes that baffled physics last century still baffle it today, and its great hopes of string theory and supersymmetry aren't leading anywhere.

In contrast, quantum theory works, but quantum waves that entangle, superpose, then collapse to a point are physically impossible—they must be "imaginary." So for the first time in history, a theory of what doesn't exist is successfully predicting what does—but how can the unreal predict the real?

Quantum realism is the opposite view—that the quantum world is real and is creating the physical world as a virtual reality. Quantum mechanics thus predicts physical mechanics because it causes them. Physics saying that quantum states don't exist is like the Wizard of Oz telling Dorothy, "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

If anyone wants a simple primer - there are four TEDed videos here to refresh the understanding that we no longer live in a Newtonian universe. :)
Quantum mechanics 101: Demystifying tough physics in 4 easy lessons
Ready to level up your working knowledge of quantum mechanics? Check out these four TED-Ed Lessons written by Chad Orzel, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Union College and author of How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog.

Trying to understand reality? This is a great 6 min video that give some amazing insights into how reality can be shaped by infuences from other forms of vibration.
CYMATICS: Science Vs. Music - Nigel Stanford

This is a great 33 min video that summarizes a great deal of thinking related to artificial intelligence. Well worth the listen. Demis is a brilliant mind hired by Google to head up their efforts in this field. And of course this is 4 years ago in a domain experience exponential advance.
Demis Hassabis on Computational Neuroscience
At Singularity Summit 2010.

Here is a must view 6 min video that explains powerful new development in biological and complexity sciences - even though it’s more than two years old.
What is National Resource for Network Biology
Video introduction to NRNB, the National Resource for Network Biology,

Well from an effort to create open network for a knowledge commons - we have traditional business models seeking the firewall important biological tools.
Who Owns the Biggest Biotech Discovery of the Century?
There’s a bitter fight over the patents for CRISPR, a breakthrough new form of DNA editing.
Last month in Silicon Valley, biologists Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier showed up in black gowns to receive the $3 million Breakthrough Prize, a glitzy award put on by Internet billionaires including Mark Zuckerberg. They’d won for developing CRISPR-Cas9, a “powerful and general technology” for editing genomes that’s been hailed as a biotechnology breakthrough.

Not dressing up that night was Feng Zhang (see 35 Innovators Under 35, 2013), a researcher in Cambridge at the MIT-Harvard Broad Institute. But earlier this year Zhang claimed his own reward. In April, he won a broad U.S. patent on CRISPR-Cas9 that could give him and his research center control over just about every important commercial use of the technology.

How did the high-profile prize for CRISPR and the patent on it end up in different hands? That’s a question now at the center of a seething debate over who invented what, and when, that involves three heavily financed startup companies, a half-dozen universities, and thousands of pages of legal documents.

“The intellectual property in this space is pretty complex, to put it nicely,” says Rodger Novak, a former pharmaceutical industry executive who is now CEO of CRISPR Therapeutics, a startup in Basel, Switzerland, that was cofounded by Charpentier. “Everyone knows there are conflicting claims.”

But this is the sort of stuff that can become known we science collaborates.
Sprouting feathers and lost teeth: scientists map the evolution of birds
Mass genome sequencing reveals avian family tree – and how imitative birdsong gives birds genetic similarities to humans
A remarkable international effort to map out the avian tree of life has revealed how birds evolved after the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs into more than 10,000 species alive today. More than 200 scientists in 20 countries joined forces to create the evolutionary tree, which reveals how birds gained their colourful feathers, lost their teeth, and learned to sing songs.

The project has thrown up extraordinary similarities between the brain circuits that allow humans to speak and those that give some birds song: a case of common biology being arrived at via different evolutionary routes.

Some birds are shown to have unexpectedly close relationships, with falcons more closely related to parrots than eagles or vultures, and flamingoes more closely related to pigeons than pelicans. The map also suggests that the earliest common ancestor of land birds was an apex predator, which gave way to the prehistoric giant terror birds that once roamed the Americas.

The scientists began their task by analysing fingernail-sized pieces of frozen flesh taken from 45 bird species, including eagles, woodpeckers, ostriches and parakeets, gathered by museums around the world over the past 30 years. From the thawed-out tissue, they extracted and read the birds’ whole genomes. To these they added the genomes of three previously sequenced species. It took nine supercomputers the equivalent of 400 years of processor time to compare all the genomes and arrange them into a comprehensive family tree.

And here we have to think much more deeply about our microbial ecologies.
Viruses as a Cure
When we talk about viruses, usually we focus on the suffering caused by Ebola, influenza and the like. But our bodies are home to trillions of viruses, and new research hints that some of them may actually be keeping us healthy.

“Viruses have gotten a bad rap,” said Ken Cadwell, an immunologist at New York University School of Medicine. “They don’t always cause disease.”
Dr. Cadwell stumbled by accident onto the first clues about the healing power of viruses. At the time, he was studying the microbiome, the community of 100 trillion microbes living in our bodies. Scientists have long known that the microbiome is important to our health.

One of its crucial functions is ensuring that our intestines develop normally. In a healthy gut, the inner wall is lined with a dense mat of fingerlike projections called villi. When scientists raise germ-free mice in sterile cages, their intestinal villi turn out to be sparse and thin.

Germ-free mice also fail to develop a normal supply of the immune cells nestled in the lining of the gut, which attack pathogens but not harmless microbes. As a result, the germ-free mouse’s gut becomes vulnerable to injuries and infections.

Now here is a very interesting article that illuminates how combining technologies (in this case 3D printing, Robots, gaming equipment, bio and chemical tech) can transform the speed of science discovery.
A cheap 3D-printed robot and a PlayStation camera are hard at work trying to find the origins of life. But this life isn't biological, it's chemical. The system has successfully created the first "synthetic cells" that can evolve outside of biology, using a robot to keep them alive. The research could help us understand how life first appeared billions of years ago.

The system is wonderfully simple. Using the RepRap 3D-printing platform a team of chemists at Glasgow University created a robot that can do incredibly precise experiments with no human input. The PlayStation camera then snaps pictures for further analysis.

"By hacking together this kit we have in effect built a highly sophisticated machine that can fully automate the life cycle of a chemical protocell model. We've then used the robot to explore lots of different types of ingredients to try and come up with interesting recipes that show 'life-like' behaviours," Cronin says.

Cronin and his team are using four chemicals: 1-penatol, 1-octanol, diethyl phthalate and either dodecane or octanoic acid, suspended in an alkaline solution. In the most recent experiment an evolutionary algorithm was used to look at 17 million unique combinations of reactions. Something that would take humans hundreds of very boring years is easy work for a cheap, 3D-printed robot.

Speaking about national resources - here’s something that can inspire some conspiracy theories about why we’ve moved from ‘peak oil’ to ‘oil glut’ because incumbent energy investments want to derail investment in alternative energy. Maybe I’m misperceiving an ink-blot. :)
U.S. utilities face up to $48B revenue loss from solar, efficiency
Energy demand could drop by more than 15% due to new energy technologies by 2025
Energy utilities face losing between $18 billion and $48 billion a year in the U.S and up to €61 billion a year in Europe by 2025 as solar power and energy conservation initiatives grow, according to Accenture.

The Accenture analysis, based on extensive modeling and a survey of global utilities executives, estimates that energy demand could be reduced by more than 15% due to new energy technologies by 2025.

For example, researchers at the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics at the University of New South Wales announced that they've achieved 40.4% efficiency in converting sunlight to electricity by using commercially available solar cells combined with a mirror and filters that reduce wasted energy.

Accenture's "Digitally Enabled Grid" study found that utility executives are "notably more concerned" about the impact of renewable energy on their revenue streams than in the past. This year, 61% of utility executives surveyed by Accenture indicated they expect significant or moderate revenue reductions as a result of distributed electricity generation, such as solar photovoltaic (PVs), compared to 43% last year.

The cost of rooftop solar-powered electricity will be on par with prices for common coal or oil-powered generation in two years, and the technology to produce it will only get cheaper, according to a recent report from Deutsche Bank's  solar industry analyst, Vishal Shah.

For Fun
This is great for adults and kids - spectacular animated graphics of how things work - MUST SEE.

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