Thursday, January 1, 2015

Friday Thinking, 2 January 2015

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

Merry Seasonings - one and all. 

There is no standardized career path, set of tools and templates for production, or category of employers that are stable and predictable.
C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell, Clay Shirky - Post-Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present

“There are now a billion social-media posts every two days…which represent the largest increase in the capacity of the human race to express itself at any time in the history of the world,”

New ways of linking datasets have played a large role in generating new insights. And creative approaches to visualizing data—humans are far better than computers at seeing patterns—frequently prove integral to the process of creating knowledge. Many of the tools now being developed can be used across disciplines as seemingly disparate as astronomy and medicine. Among students, there is a huge appetite for the new field. A Harvard course in data science last fall attracted 400 students, from the schools of law, business, government, design, and medicine, as well from the College, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and even MIT. Faculty members have taken note: the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) will introduce a new master’s program in computational biology and quantitative genetics next year, likely a precursor to a Ph.D. program. In SEAS, there is talk of organizing a master’s in data science.

There is a movement of quantification rumbling across fields in academia and science, industry and government and nonprofits,” says King, who directs Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS), a hub of expertise for interdisciplinary projects aimed at solving problems in human society. Among faculty colleagues, he reports, “Half the members of the government department are doing some type of data analysis, along with much of the sociology department and a good fraction of economics, more than half of the School of Public Health, and a lot in the Medical School.” Even law has been seized by the movement to empirical research—“which is social science,” he says. “It is hard to find an area that hasn’t been affected.”

The story follows a similar pattern in every field, King asserts. The leaders are qualitative experts in their field. Then a statistical researcher who doesn’t know the details of the field comes in and, using modern data analysis, adds tremendous insight and value. As an example, he describes how Kevin Quinn, formerly an assistant professor of government at Harvard, ran a contest comparing his statistical model to the qualitative judgments of 87 law professors to see which could best predict the outcome of all the Supreme Court cases in a year. “The law professors knew the jurisprudence and what each of the justices had decided in previous cases, they knew the case law and all the arguments,” King recalls. “Quinn and his collaborator, Andrew Martin [then an associate professor of political science at Washington University], collected six crude variables on a whole lot of previous cases and did an analysis.” King pauses a moment. “I think you know how this is going to end. It was no contest.” Whenever sufficient information can be quantified, modern statistical methods will outperform an individual or small group of people every time.
Why “Big Data” Is a Big Deal

I’ve been a true fan of Brett Victor - ever since I saw his video “New Media For Thinking the Unthinkable”. This is a continuation of his work - presented in a more interrated and more deeply thoughtful way. McLuhan noted that the first thing we do with a new media is make the old media its content. The best example of this is the fact that for the last two decades, pretty much all knowledge work has been done via some form of digital environment - but the real content has and still is - The Printing Press.
What Brett Victor is showing is the vision working via the digital environment with the content being the dynamic power inherent in the digital environment - that with computers, tablets, mobile devices - the content no longer needs to be structured in the static constraints of movable type (printing press) but can now be structured as dynamic, interactive and immersive.
This is a MUST VIEW for anyone interested in the Future of Science, of Publishing, and in the Future of real Knowledge Management. It’s 57 min.
The Humane Representation of Thought
New representations of thought — written language, mathematical notation, information graphics, etc — have been responsible for some of the most significant leaps in the progress of civilization, by expanding humanity’s collectively-thinkable territory.
But at debilitating cost. These representations, having been invented for static media such as paper, tap into a small subset of human capabilities and neglect the rest. Knowledge work means sitting at a desk, interpreting and manipulating symbols. The human body is reduced to an eye staring at tiny rectangles and fingers on a pen or keyboard.

Like any severely unbalanced way of living, this is crippling to mind and body. But it is also enormously wasteful of the vast human potential. Human beings naturally have many powerful modes of thinking and understanding. Most are incompatible with static media. In a culture that has contorted itself around the limitations of marks on paper, these modes are undeveloped, unrecognized, or scorned.

We are now seeing the start of a dynamic medium. To a large extent, people today are using this medium merely to emulate and extend static representations from the era of paper, and to further constrain the ways in which the human body can interact with external representations of thought.

But the dynamic medium offers the opportunity to deliberately invent a humane and empowering form of knowledge work. We can design dynamic representations which draw on the entire range of human capabilities — all senses, all forms of movement, all forms of understanding — instead of straining a few and atrophying the rest.
This talk suggests how each of the human activities in which thought is externalized (conversing, presenting, reading, writing, etc) can be redesigned around such representations.

This is another long video lecture (82 min) - but for anyone interested in how computer graphics have been developed - and where they are going in the near future. This is a great compliment to Brett Victor’s video.
Ken Perlin - Student Lecture
Dr. Ken Perlin, one of the most influential innovators in computer graphics, shares the latest out of NYU's Media Research Lab at Vancouver’s Centre for Digital Media and Emily Carr University. [He] believes computer technology can help create a more “people-centric” world – and his imaginative research offers us a glimpse into what that world might look like. A big name in the world of computer graphics, Perlin’s prodigious research career has made several advances in rendering, modeling, animation and user interfaces, which have earned him wide recognition and inspired new lines of research.

There’s been lots of bits created and shared about the benefits and dangers of Artificial Intelligence. This is an interesting article illustrating the speed of computer capabilities.
In one aspect of vision, computers catch up to primate brain
Newest computer neural networks can identify visual objects as well as the primate brain.
For decades, neuroscientists have been trying to design computer networks that can mimic visual skills such as recognizing objects, which the human brain does very accurately and quickly.

Until now, no computer model has been able to match the primate brain at visual object recognition during a brief glance. However, a new study from MIT neuroscientists has found that one of the latest generation of these so-called “deep neural networks” matches the primate brain.

Because these networks are based on neuroscientists’ current understanding of how the brain performs object recognition, the success of the latest networks suggest that neuroscientists have a fairly accurate grasp of how object recognition works, says James DiCarlo, a professor of neuroscience and head of MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the senior author of a paper describing the study in the Dec. 18 issue of the journal PLoS Computational Biology.

“The fact that the models predict the neural responses and the distances of objects in neural population space shows that these models encapsulate our current best understanding as to what is going on in this previously mysterious portion of the brain,” says DiCarlo, who is also a member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research.

This is very interesting - a new demonstration of the use of Watson. Choose a text that you want to have Watson analyze and cut-paste it in.
User Modeling
The Watson User Modeling service uses linguistic analytics to extract a spectrum of cognitive and social characteristics from the text data that a person generates through text messages, tweets, posts, and more.

This is an excellent article pointing out the paradoxical strength to maintain stability when systems are used to volatility.
The Calm Before the Storm
Why Volatility Signals Stability, and 
Vice Versa
Why has seemingly stable Syria turned out to be the fragile regime, whereas always-in-turmoil Lebanon has so far proved robust? The answer is that prior to its civil war, Syria was exhibiting only pseudo-stability, its calm fa├žade concealing deep structural vulnerabilities. Lebanon’s chaos, paradoxically, signaled strength. Fifteen years of civil war had served to decentralize the state and bring about a more balanced sectarian power-sharing structure. Along with Lebanon’s small size as an administrative unit, these factors added to its durability. So did the country’s free-market economy. In Syria, the ruling Baath Party sought to control economic variability, replacing the lively chaos of the ancestral souk with the top-down, Soviet-style structure of the office building. This rigidity made Syria (and the other Baathist state, Iraq) much more vulnerable to disruption than Lebanon.

But Syria’s biggest vulnerability was that it had no recent record of recovering from turmoil. Countries that have survived past bouts of chaos tend to be vaccinated against future ones. Thus, the best indicator of a country’s future stability is not past stability but moderate volatility in the relatively recent past. As one of us, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, wrote in the 2007 book The Black Swan, “Dictatorships that do not appear volatile, like, say, Syria or Saudi Arabia, face a larger risk of chaos than, say, Italy, as the latter has been in a state of continual political turmoil since the second [world] war.” 

On its face, centralization seems to make governments more stable. But that stability is an illusion.

Speaking of the future - this is the time of year where ‘everybody’ makes their predictions - here’s one.
Forecast: Workplace Trends, Choices and Technologies for 2015
What’s in store for 2015 when it comes to technology advances in the workplace?
Box growth in a number of nascent technologies accurately describes 2014. This next year will see these technologies broadly deployed, but with that deployment will come challenges and choices to make. This sets up 2015 to be a year of intense activity and important choices — how far forward to leap, and how to transition from a world we all know and are working in comfortably. In today’s context of the primacy of smartphone and tablet devices, robust cross-organization cloud services and the changing nature of productivity — all combined with the acute needs of enterprise security — lead to dramatic change in the definition of the enterprise computing platform, starting this year.
This past year has seen an incredible — and exponential — diffusion of technologies. Who would have thought at the start of the year we would end the year surrounded by:
  • Smartphone/supercomputers, some costing less than $50 contract-free, in the hands of almost two billion people
  • Free (essentially) or unlimited cloud storage for individuals and businesses
  • Tablets outselling laptops
  • 4G LTE speeds from a single worldwide device in most of the developed world
  • Amazing pixel densities on large-screen displays, introduced without a premium price
  • Streaming 4K video
  • Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus “phablet” sold very well (we think) and is now perfectly normal to use
  • SaaS/cloud services scaling to tens of millions of business subscribers
  • Major cloud platforms putting millions of servers in their data centers
  • Shared transportation is on a path to substitute for traditional taxis, and in many cases, private car ownership
  • Mobile payments finally arrived at scale in the U.S. and are routine in some of the world’s least developed economies
These and many more advances went from introduction to deployment, especially among technology leaders and early adopters, thus creating a “new normal.” In terms of Geoffrey Moore’s seminal work from 1991, “Crossing the Chasm,” these technologies have been adopted by technical visionaries and are now crossing the chasm to the broader population.

And another set of predictions - this time from Nesta which is an innovation charity with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life.
10 predictions for 2015
Our annual list of the trends, social movements and technological breakthroughs set to shape our lives over the next 12 months.
This year, we’re predicting that a new online political party will emerge in the UK, there will be new ways to interact with our national museums and galleries, and there will be a surge in young people expressing their creativity using new digital tools.
We hope you enjoy this year’s list.  

Alongside our predictions series we're looking at the process of prediction itself, with a focus on prediction markets and tournaments. Read more about our work exploring the re-emergence of prediction as sport.
For those keen to find out how well we did with our 2014 predictions, here are few highlights from last year’s forecasts.

Here’s another form of forecast - THE 2014 EDGE QUESTION . . .
Every year Edge.Org survey’s some a large selection of brilliant minds. As in every other year, this is a very long read having 175 essays; (129,000 words) from some of the world’s most interesting thought leaders.
Science advances by discovering new things and developing new ideas. Few truly new ideas are developed without abandoning old ones first. As theoretical physicist Max Planck (1858-1947) noted, "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." In other words, science advances by a series of funerals. Why wait that long?

Ideas change, and the times we live in change. Perhaps the biggest change today is the rate of change. What established scientific idea is ready to be moved aside so that science can advance?  

The idea that the world is going to hell in a handbasket is not a scientific idea - but maybe it should be retired. This is a sound account as is possible of the state of the world. - As Bill Clinton noted - follow the trend lines not the head lines.
The World Is Not Falling Apart
Never mind the headlines. We’ve never lived in such peaceful times
It’s a good time to be a pessimist. ISIS, Crimea, Donetsk, Gaza, Burma, Ebola, school shootings, campus rapes, wife-beating athletes, lethal cops—who can avoid the feeling that things fall apart, the center cannot hold? Last year Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before a Senate committee that the world is “more dangerous than it has ever been.” This past fall,Michael Ignatieff wrote of “the tectonic plates of a world order that are being pushed apart by the volcanic upward pressure of violence and hatred.” Two months ago, the New York Times columnist Roger Cohen lamented, “Many people I talk to, and not only over dinner, have never previously felt so uneasy about the state of the world. … The search is on for someone to dispel foreboding and embody, again, the hope of the world.”

As troubling as the recent headlines have been, these lamentations need a second look. It’s hard to believe we are in greater danger today than we were during the two world wars, or during other perils such as the periodic nuclear confrontations during the Cold War, the numerous conflicts in Africa and Asia that each claimed millions of lives, or the eight-year war between Iran and Iraq that threatened to choke the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf and cripple the world’s economy.

How can we get a less hyperbolic assessment of the state of the world? Certainly not from daily journalism. News is about things that happen, not things that don’t happen. We never see a reporter saying to the camera, “Here we are, live from a country where a war has not broken out”—or a city that has not been bombed, or a school that has not been shot up. As long as violence has not vanished from the world, there will always be enough incidents to fill the evening news. And since the human mind estimates probability by the ease with which it can recall examples, newsreaders will always perceive that they live in dangerous times. All the more so when billions of smartphones turn a fifth of the world’s population into crime reporters and war correspondents.

Speaking of the world not falling apart here’s something that gives us a hint of the possibilities of evolving governance for the 21st Century leveraging the social computing of the digital environment. This is what the P2P foundation says about this effort to build innovative tools for new forms of governance - this could even be used in an organization.
I really love Loomio. It’s an exceptional, well-developed collaborative tool that mimics general assembly-style consensus decision making and scales it up for asynchronous web usage. Additionally, it was originally developed by activists in New Zealand during Occupy Wellington, who collaborated with local, social enterprises and formed a co-op. This is precisely the sort of initiative we catalogue and promote at the P2P Foundation so, now that Loomio are running a crowdfunding campaign to make their technology even more useful, we’d like to give them our full support.
Loomio: Making Real Democracy available to everyone
Democracy isn’t just about politics – it’s people getting together and deciding how things should be. It’s a skill we can practice with people wherever we are: in our workplaces, our schools, and our communities.

Loomio is a user-friendly tool for collaborative decision-making: not majority-rules polling, but actually coming up with solutions that work for everyone. We’re a small team in New Zealand, and we’ve built a prototype that people are already doing great things with. Now we’re crowdfunding so we can build the real thing: a new tool for truly inclusive decision-making.

If Loomio seems farfetched - here’s a manifesto from the EU’s Digital Agenda For Europe - a Europe 2020 initiative. A pdf of the 8 page report is downloadable.
The Onlife Manifesto
The deployment of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and their uptake by society affect radically the human condition, insofar as it modifies our relationships to ourselves, to others and to the world.

The ever-increasing pervasiveness of ICTs shakes established reference frameworks through the following transformations:
  • the blurring of the distinction between reality and virtuality;
  • the blurring of the distinctions between human, machine and nature;
  • the reversal from information scarcity to information abundance; and
  • the shift from the primacy of entities to the primacy of interactions.
The world is grasped by human minds through concepts: perception is necessarily mediated by concepts, as if they were the interfaces through which reality is experienced and interpreted. Concepts provide an understanding of surrounding realities and a means by which to apprehend them. However, the current conceptual toolbox is not fitted to address new ICT-related challenges and leads to negative projections about the future: we fear and reject what we fail to make sense of and give meaning to.

In order to acknowledge such inadequacy and explore alternative conceptualisations, a group of scholars in anthropology, cognitive science, computer science, engineering, law, neuroscience, philosophy, political science, psychology and sociology, instigated the Onlife Initiative, a collective thought exercise to explore the policy-relevant consequences of those changes. This concept reengineering exercise seeks to inspire reflection on what happens to us and to re-envisage the future with greater confidence.

Not just the IoT - but the nature of mobility and the next generations perspectives need to be considered - Here is a lovely 2 min video from Deloitte. There is also a related article.
Automotive trends and Gen Y  Video

The changing nature of mobility
Deloitte conducted a study of more than 23,000 consumers across 19 countries. The Deloitte Global Automotive Consumer Study included Gen Y consumers, Baby Boomers (1946–1964), and Gen X (1965–1976) consumers.

And speaking about mobility and the automobile - here’s an interesting approach.
Singapore Wants a Driverless Version of Uber
Singapore plans to let anyone test driverless cars in one of its busy neighborhoods in 2015.
As driverless cars edge slowly toward commercial reality, some people are wondering how cities might change as a result. Will traffic lights disappear? Will parking garages become obsolete? Will carpooling become the norm?

Singapore is keen to find out. The city-state will open one of its neighborhoods to driverless cars in 2015, with the idea that such vehicles could operate as a kind of jitney service, picking up passengers and taking them to trains or other modes of public transportation. The vehicles might be like golf carts, taking people short distances at low speeds, similar to the driverless vehicles demonstrated this year by Google (see “Lazy Humans Shaped Google’s New Autonomous Car”).

Lam Wee Shann, director of the futures division for Singapore’s Ministry of Transport, said during a panel held at MIT last month that the government wants to explore whether autonomous vehicles could reduce congestion and remake the city into one built around walking, bicycling, and public transit.

“Singapore welcomes industry and academia to deploy automated vehicles for testing under real traffic conditions on public roads,” Lam said in a follow-up e-mail interview. He declined to say whether Google or any other companies pursuing driverless cars have contacted Singapore yet.

Speaking of the future and the Internet of Things - this is a MUST VIEW video panel discussion (1 hr) for anyone interested and concerned with the future of agricultue - which means how are food will be produced.
Internet of the Things Meets Food and Agriculture | The Future of Economic Development
Disruption is not a strategy. It is a tactic. Stability? Now that is a worthy strategic goal. Can IoT enable the creation of new market opportunities? If so, can we make master systems thinking and matriculate to systems working? Can our next great generation of Smart AG entrepreneurs in IoT deliver authentic value, in complex markets, through new collaboration models?

Moderator: Kathay Rennels, Sunflower with Stats, Assistant Vice President of Community and Economic Development, CSU
Jason Tatge, Founder & CEO, Farm Mobile, Founder, FarmTech, (Sold to Dupont)
Dr. Gregory D. Graff, Associate Professor, College of Agricultural Sciences, CSU

If we look at the Internet of Things (IoT) as a vast landscape (literally) of sensors - we can imagine Big Data becoming ‘Cosmic Data’. And while computational and storage continue their exponential progress - analytics and software are following the same trajectory. This is a longish but very accessible article outlining the emerging world of Big Data and how if we are to do social science research we will need new skills and occupations related to data science, and app development.
Why “Big Data” Is a Big Deal
Information science promises to change the world.
DATA NOW STREAM from daily life: from phones and credit cards and televisions and computers; from the infrastructure of cities; from sensor-equipped buildings, trains, buses, planes, bridges, and factories. The data flow so fast that the total accumulation of the past two years—a zettabyte—dwarfs the prior record of human civilization. “There is a big data revolution,” saysWeatherhead University Professor Gary King. But it is not the quantity of data that is revolutionary. “The big data revolution is that now we can do something with the data.”

The revolution lies in improved statistical and computational methods, not in the exponential growth of storage or even computational capacity, King explains. The doubling of computing power every 18 months (Moore’s Law) “is nothing compared to a big algorithm”—a set of rules that can be used to solve a problem a thousand times faster than conventional computational methods could. One colleague, faced with a mountain of data, figured out that he would need a $2-million computer to analyze it. Instead, King and his graduate students came up with an algorithm within two hours that would do the same thing in 20 minutes—on a laptop: a simple example, but illustrative.

New ways of linking datasets have played a large role in generating new insights. And creative approaches to visualizing data—humans are far better than computers at seeing patterns—frequently prove integral to the process of creating knowledge. Many of the tools now being developed can be used across disciplines as seemingly disparate as astronomy and medicine. Among students, there is a huge appetite for the new field. A Harvard course in data science last fall attracted 400 students, from the schools of law, business, government, design, and medicine, as well from the College, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and even MIT. Faculty members have taken note: the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) will introduce a new master’s program in computational biology and quantitative genetics next year, likely a precursor to a Ph.D. program. In SEAS, there is talk of organizing a master’s in data science.

... there aren’t enough people comfortable dealing with petabytes of data. “These skill sets need to get out of the computer-science departments and into public health, social science, and public policy,” he says. “Big data is having a transformative impact across virtually all academic disciplines—it is time for data science to be integrated into the foundational courses for all undergraduates.

Speaking of new research paradigms - here’s an interesting article.
The key assumption is that the pattern of noise in the cause will be different to the pattern of noise in the effect. That’s because any noise in X can have an influence on Y but not vice versa.
Cause And Effect: The Revolutionary New Statistical Test That Can Tease Them Apart
Statisticians have always thought it impossible to tell cause and effect apart using observational data. Not any more.
One of the most commonly repeated maxims in science is that correlation is not causation. And there is no shortage of examples demonstrating why. One of the most famous is the case of hormone replacement therapy, which was studied by numerous epidemiologists at the end of the last century.

These studies showed that women who took hormone replacement therapy had less chance of developing heart disease. Naturally, doctors suggested that hormone replacement therapy somehow protected against heart disease.

That turned out to be an erroneous conclusion. Later studies showed that women who took hormone replacement therapy were likely to be from higher socio-economic groups with higher incomes, better diets and generally healthier outcomes. It was this that caused the correlation the earlier studies had found. By contrast, proper randomised controlled trials showed that hormone replacement therapy actually increased the risk of heart disease.

In the absence of controlled trials, statisticians have widely assumed that it is impossible to determine cause and effect from an observed correlation alone. Does Y cause X or X cause Y? The apparent symmetry of this scenario seems to exclude the possibility that any statistical test could tease them apart.

But in the last few years, statisticians have begun to explore a number of ways to solve this problem. They say that in certain circumstances it is indeed possible to determine cause and effect based only on the observational data.

Well maybe this is the library of the future - assemblage of knowledge access and creation tools - where and when needed. All they need is one or two more boxes to add a Fab Lab (3D printing) - Fast rebuilding - to know and do.
In 20 Minutes, This Brilliant Kit Creates A Full-Size Library For Refugee Camps
The Ideas Box, the brainchild of the nonprofit Libraries Without Borders, fits the equivalent of a small-town library on two standard shipping pallets.
A typical library can take years to build. But a new library kit, designed to travel to remote refugee camps or disaster zones, can come together in less than 20 minutes.

The Ideas Box, the brainchild of the nonprofit Libraries Without Borders, fits the equivalent of a small-town library on two standard shipping pallets. It comes with books and e-readers, tablets, laptops, cameras and other creative tools, and a range of digital tools like Khan Academy. Since camps might not have internet access or power, it comes with its own. The boxes that hold all of the devices convert into tables and chairs.

The project was first inspired by the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. After Libraries Without Borders built dozens of tent libraries for disaster camps, the organization realized how important the libraries could be in helping communities in similar situations rebuild.

Speaking of innovative ways to connect knowledge and information - this is something every city in the world should be able to do - if incumbent Tel-Cable-Companies weren’t strangling our capacity to improve the infrastructure of the digital environment.
Hundreds of Portuguese Buses and Taxis Are Also Wi-Fi Routers
Routers on 600 buses and taxis allow free Internet access and collect data for city planners.
A massive mobile Wi-Fi network that could be a model for many cities was launched in the city of Porto, Portugal, this fall. Buses and taxis are equipped with routers that serve as mobile Wi-Fi hot spots for tens of thousands of riders. The routers also collect data from the vehicles—and from sensors on trash bins around the city—and relay it back to city offices to help with civic planning.

More than 600 buses and taxis are part of the network, which is now serving 70,000 people a month and absorbing between 50 and 80 percent of wireless traffic from users who otherwise would have had to use the cellular network. Built by a startup called Veniam, spun out of the University of Porto, it is the largest and most sophisticated vehicle-based network in the world, the company says.

In addition to supplying Internet access, the Porto network is being used to collect sensor data. When buses and taxis hit a sharp bump that might be due to a pothole, the suspension sensors detect this and relay the information to City Hall to help identify where roads need repairs. Waste containers equipped with sensors use the network to relay whether they are full, so they can be picked up at the most efficient times.

There has been lots of articles about the coming wave of robotics that will change the nature of work - but robotics are just coming to the workplace - they will increasingly be part of our home-space and personal lives - Think of Tom Hanks in the movie Castaway and his relationship with ‘Wilson’.
Boston Researcher Cynthia Breazeal Is Ready to Bring Robots Into the Home. Are You?
The engineers and scientists spilling out of Greater Boston’s world-class universities built the foundations of the modern computing era and amassed the densest cluster of life sciences companies in the world. The region lost some of its most promising startups to Silicon Valley, famously including Facebook. But business is booming — and researchers and entrepreneurs there are aiming far higher than the next social network.

The MIT Media Lab’s Personal Robots Group flanks the soaring atrium on the fourth floor of the Wiesner Building, a wall of metal panels along the southern edge of Cambridge, Mass.
The space looks like the set of an ill-advised Terminator-meets-the-Muppets crossover. Mechanical arms, grippers and eyeballs clutter workbenches alongside colorful anemones, fairies and teddy bears, machines that defy sci-fi conventions demanding robots look like rolling trashcans or hard-shelled humans.

Another stereotype buster, named Jibo, sits on the edge of the desk in researcher Cynthia Breazeal’s cramped office. It’s 11 inches, six pounds and stationary, and resembles nothing so much as a desk lamp. But Breazeal believes it could be the first machine to fulfill the potential of personal robotics, offering average consumers a friendly, affordable helper.

It speaks in a childlike voice, swivels its screen in the manner of a puppy’s head tilt, and winks with a cartoonish eye. It can read to children, snap pictures, flag upcoming appointments, facilitate video chats and order up Chinese delivery. In many ways, Jibo represents the culmination of decades of research for Breazeal, who pioneered the field of social robotics in the late 1990s.

Working at the cross section of psychology, computer science and engineering, she developed a series of machines that could interact with people in more natural ways, conveying and responding to emotional cues. Breazeal believed that in order for robots to assist humans in everyday settings like homes, hospitals or schools, they first had to behave in ways that put us at ease.

Now speaking some more about robots - here’s a recent development. Thinking about a future where ‘stuff’ is built bit by bit by innumerable swarms of tiny robots.
The 1,000-robot swarm
Through commands, autonomous devices arrange selves into vast, complex shapes
The first 1,000-robot flash mob has assembled at Harvard University.
“Form a sea-star shape,” directs a computer scientist, sending the command to 1,024 little ’bots simultaneously via an infrared light. The robots begin to blink at one another, and then gradually arrange themselves into a five-pointed star. “Now form the letter K.”
The “K” stands for Kilobots, the name given to these extremely simple robots, each just a few centimeters across, standing on three pinlike legs. Instead of one highly complex robot, a “kilo” of robots collaborate, providing a simple platform for the enactment of complex behaviors.

Just as trillions of individual cells can assemble into an intelligent organism, or 1,000 starlings can form a great flowing murmuration across the sky, the Kilobots demonstrate how complexity can arise from very simple behaviors performed en masse. To computer scientists, they also represent a significant milestone in the development of collective artificial intelligence (AI).

Speaking of robot swarms, nanobots and biotechnology - this is very interesting. There two short video that explain this innovation - The video are a MUST view.
Ido Bachelet announces 2015 human trial of DNA nanobots to fight cancer and soon to repair spinal cords
At the British Friends of Bar-Ilan University's event in Otto Uomo October 2014 Professor Ido Bachelet announced the beginning of the human treatment with nanomedicine. He indicates DNA nanobots can currently identify cells in humans with 12 different types of cancer tumors.

A human patient with late stage leukemia will be given DNA nanobot treatment. Without the DNA nanobot treatment the patient would be expected to die in the summer of 2015. Based upon animal trials they expect to remove the cancer within one month. One Trillion 50 nanometer nanobots in a syringe will be injected into people to perform cellular surgery. The DNA nanobots have been tuned to not cause an immune response.

Within 1 or 2 years they hope to have spinal cord repair working in animals and then shortly thereafter in humans. This is working in tissue cultures.

Previously Ido Bachelet and Shawn Douglas have published work on DNA nanobots in the journal Nature and other respected science publications.

They have been adjusted for different kinds of medical procedures. Procedures can be quick or ones that last many days.

Here is a TED Talk that Ido Bachelet did last year. This is definitely the Future of Medicine - a Must View.
How will nanobots change medicine?
Nano-robots that fix tissues and control drugs have been envisioned for over 30 years. Now, using DNA origami and molecular programming, they are reality. These nanobots can seek and kill cancer cells, mimic social insect behaviors, carry out logical operators like a computer in a living animal, and they can be controlled from an Xbox. Ido Bachelet from the bio-design lab at Bar Ilan University explains this technology and how it will change medicine in the near future.

Ido Bachelet earned his Ph.D. from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and was a postdoctoral fellow at M.I.T. and Harvard University. He is currently an assistant professor in the Faculty of Life Sciences and the Nano-Center at Bar Ilan University, Israel, the founder of several biotech companies, and a composer of music for piano and molecules.

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