Thursday, January 29, 2015

Friday Thinking, 30 January 2015

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

Newer startups are putting culture first and foremost — and getting rid of HR departments entirely.

Strategic trans­parency is the only way to achieve trust; trust is the only way to maximize the value of the people in a system.’ Who is responsible for this transparency? All of us.
Maddie Grant  


Unlike the more or less ephemeral media, design has the capacity to cast myths into an enduring, solid and tangible form, so that they seem to be reality itself.
Adrian Forty - Objects of Desire

I remember twenty years ago, giving a talk to advertising agencies, media companies and banks explaining how important and disruptive the Internet would be. Back then, there were satellite photos of the earth and a webcam pointing at a coffee pot on the Internet. Most people didn’t have the imagination to see how the Internet would fundamentally disrupt commerce and media, because Amazon, eBay and Google hadn’t been invented -- just email and Usenet-news. No one in these big companies believed that they had to learn anything about the Internet or that the Internet would affect their business -- I mostly got blank stares or snores.

Similarly, I believe that Bitcoin is the first “killer app” of The Blockchain as email was the killer app for the beginning of the Internet. We are in the process of inventing eBay, Amazon and Google. My hunch is that The Blockchain will be to banking, law and accountancy as The Internet was to media, commerce and advertising. It will lower costs, disintermediate many layers of business and reduce friction. As we know, one person’s friction is another person’s revenue.

The founders of the Internet may have been slightly hippy-like, but they were mostly government-funded and fairly government-friendly. Cutting a deal with the Department of Commerce seemed like a pretty good idea to them at the time.

The core Bitcoin developers are cypherpunks who do what they do because they don’t trust governments or the global banking system and are trying to build a distributed and autonomous system, one that is impervious to regulation and meddling by anyone at any time. At some level, Bitcoin was designed to not care what regulators think. The miners have an economic interest in Bitcoin having value, since that’s what they’re paid in, and they care about scale and the network effect, but the miners probably don’t care if it’s Bitcoin or an alt.coin that ends up winning, as long as their investments in hardware and plant don’t disappear before they make a return on their investment.
Joichi Ito - Director, MIT Media Lab - Why Bitcoin is and isn't like the Internet



Here’s a great web site with a number of ‘Leading Scientists’ discussing the convergence of technologies. This is really a MUST VISIT.
Leading Scientists Discuss Converging Technologies
The Science & Technology Innovation Program at the Wilson Center is working with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to interview scientists working at the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science. In this series of videos, participants discuss their definition of technological convergence, how this might affect various scientific fields and what obstacles must be addressed to reach convergence’s full potential.

This work is part of the international study, "Societal Convergence for Human Progress," sponsored by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The final report, Convergence of Knowledge, Technology and Society: Beyond Convergence of Nano-Bio-Info-Cognitive Technologies, can be downloaded here http://www.wtec.org/NBIC2/Docs/FinalReport/Pdf-secured/NBIC2-FinalReport-WEB.pdf


This is an interesting article - worth some very serious thought. The video game as the future of work, science and engagement in just about everything. A game as a service that is not a product but a culture? And more - this article gives hints of the future of governance in the digital environment where Big Data enables agile response to changes in conditions of change - where players and developers shape the unfolding of the economy and visions of aspiration. For anyone interested in this line of thought you can also Google Edward Castronova - an economist and gamer who’s been thinking along these lines.
The People Who Only Play One Video Game
Video games are changing. Increasingly, we're seeing a subset of players focus their attention on one single video game instead of many. League of Legends, World of Tanks, for instance. Games that change. Games that are constantly evolving. Games that shift and transform according to the needs of their user base. Today we look at this new breed of video games. The video games that serve us.

...But when it comes to promoting its video game as a service or a 'culture', Wargaming operates on a different plane. Not only is World of Tanks its own culture, it's a service that attempts to infiltrate and support the broader culture it has become a part of.
"We're moving into things outside the game," says Max.

What does that mean? Specifically, it means working with museums on military exhibits. It means supporting historical research on military vehicles. It means literallyhelping teams of experts extract and restore old tanks. It means working with schools and universities. There are institutions using World of Tanks as a virtual handbook. Wargaming has its own internal researchers publishing books with new information in the field of military history.

Quite literally Wargaming is making World of Tanks — the product — an indispensable part of military history itself. It has become an inextricable section of that culture. World of Tanks is pushing the boundaries of gaming as a 'service'. You get the sense that Wargaming will not rest until every single person with even the vaguest interest in military vehicles is playing World of Tanks.

But with 100 million people across the globe current playing the game, Wargaming may have already succeeded in that task. World of Tanks is, obviously, an astronomical success, yet the concept is niche. It's niche by definition. World of Tanks is a hobbyist's video game. 20 years ago its audience would have been building scale models, they might not necessarily have been playing other video games.


Here is a 2007 Google Talk with Bruce Sterling (one of my favorite authors/futurists) where he discusses ‘Spimes’. The 'Spime' - a neologism for a futuristic object, characteristic to the Internet of Things, that can be tracked through space and time throughout its lifetime. They are essentially virtual master objects that can, at various times, have physical incarnations of itself. These future manufactured objects with informational support so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system.
It’s very interesting how Scott Klinker who speaks in the second half of the presentation introduces a number of things that are now becoming mainstream - only 7 years later.
The Internet of Things: What is a Spime and why is it useful?
World-renowned Science Fiction writer and futurist Bruce Sterling will outline his ideas for SPIMES, a form of ubiquitous computing that gives smarts and 'searchabiliity' to even the most mundane of physical products. Imagine losing your car keys and being able to search for them with Google Earth.

This same paradigm will find you "wrangling" with product-lifecycle- management systems that do for physical objects what the iPod has done for music. These and other radical ideas are delivered in Sterling's latest book`Shaping Things'. This concise book was written to inspire designers to visualize radical scenarios connecting information technology and sustainability in a new ecology of artifacts. Sterling suggests new connections between the virtual world and the physical world that will have you rethinking many of your assumptions about how we relate to products.

He will be joined by Scott Klinker, 3-D Designer-in-Residence at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI who leads a graduate design program known for giving form to experimental cultural ideas. Klinker's own design work focuses on digital customization as industry shifts from mass production toward niche production in a networked society.


Speaking of the future of augmented reality - this is a very interesting interview 60 min with Robert Scoble about his experience with Google Glass - some very good critique and insight about the future of this technology - that was really not meant as a consumer ready product but was a developer-oriented prototype. His interviews are four women (The Gilmore Girls) and provides some lovely insight in and of itself (four women - managing a male talking head - but also these are tech-savvy women as well). Some great discussion on utility and uptake of technology. Sometimes even early adopters can’t adopt everything because there’s too much. :)
This is worth the view.
G3: Glass Half Empty (Episode 30)

Google invested ½ Billion dollars in Magic Leap another augmented reality device.
Revealed at Last: Magic Leap’s Vision for Augmented Reality, in 32 Patent Illustrations
A new patent application titled Planar Waveguide Apparatus with Diffraction Element(s) and System Employing Same sounds like a scientific snoozefest, but just also might provide a playbook for the next decade of interaction design.

The surprisingly broad patent application was filed by Magic Leap, the secretive, Florida-based “Cinematic Reality” startup that recently received $542 million dollars of venture capital from Google, Legendary Entertainment, and Andresseen Horowitz. And its 180 pages represent the first detailed depiction of how the augmented-reality company believes we’ll use this mind-bending hardware.

Magic Leap has been secretive about how their system works technically, but a plethora of disclosures in their filings provide the broad outline. A lightweight head-mounted device will house a tiny projector comprised of bespoke prisms and lenses that will beam images onto the user’s retinas creating a “dynamic digitized light field signal.” Apps, powered by mobile devices or body worn computers, will generate a steady stream of fantastic creatures and surreal tableaus delivered with stereo speakers and at 60 frames per second. Infrared positioning cameras, GPS modules, and multi-axis accelerometers will blend these otherworldly images with more banal surroundings of a basement man cave.

The big question is how we’ll interact with devices like this. Sitting in front of a keyboard defeats the purpose. Voice commands like those used with Google Glass are clunky, poorly suited for public use, and inefficient. Even Oculus, the company that captured the hearts and eyes of VR fanatics, has said that they may not include native input support for the first few generations of their system.


Here’s something from Team B. What is Plan B? Plan B is an evolving blueprint for business that prioritizes people, planet and profit. The Challenges below get right to the heart of the issues that cause companies to remain rooted in Plan A – business as usual. They are our initial framework for Plan B, which we will continue to develop with help from like-minded leaders around the globe.
Who’s Team B - the members are so impressive that it will seem to much like hype - see the members here http://bteam.org/team/
New Ways of Working
The way we work is changing forever. Workforces, workplaces, the work we do and the organisations we do it for are undergoing an unprecedented revolution.

The B Team and Virgin Unite have collaborated to research what the future of work will look like. This report shares insights from business leaders and case studies across multiple sectors and assesses the impact of global changes and technology on topics including the future of leadership, the multi-generational workforce, tearing up the org chart and wellbeing.

This report is just the start of the conversation – we hope it will be a living document that constantly evolves with ongoing input from the People Innovation Network, the business world and the wider B Team community.


Since we are still in the first month of the year - here’s another ‘top’ list of exciting investment ideas.
Andreessen Horowitz shares the 16 tech trends it’s most excited about
Most of us will never be in an Andreessen Horowitz meeting, and even fewer of us will get a chance to work with the famed VC firm. But today, we’re all equals when it comes to getting a peek at the 16 tech trends that a16z, as it’s known, is most excited about right now.

In a post this morning, Andreessen Horowitz, perhaps Silicon Valley’s most revered group of investors, shared its “16 Things” list, a breakdown of the hottest tech trends in the world right now. And while few of those things would individually surprise anyone with any tech savvy, it’s fascinating to see a16z codify the trends that it clearly believes are most changing the world today.

“We don’t invest in themes; we invest in special founders with breakthrough ideas,” Andreessen Horowitz wrote in the post. “Which means we don’t make investments based on a pre-existing thesis about a category. That said, here are a few of the things we’ve been observing or thinking about.”
The full list: Virtual Reality; Sensorification of the Enterprise; Machine Learning and Big Data; Full Stack Startups; Containers; Security; Online Marketplaces; Bitcoin (and Blockchain); Cloud-Client Computing; Digital Health; Online Video; Crowdfunding; Insurance; Internet of Things; DevOps; “Failure”.


This article talks about the change in how we do science and adds an additional meaning to the sense of ‘social science research’.
Crowdsourcing Study of 30,000 Images Connects Genes to Brain Size
DNA data and medical images were combined to find genetic links to brain anatomy.
A large network of neuroscientists and doctors that compared over 30,000 brain images with people’s DNA says it’s found several genes that appear to influence the size of brain structures involved in intelligence and memory, as well as the volume of the brain itself.

Although the medical importance of these clues remains far from clear, the consortium, called Enigma, says its work demonstrates a novel distributed-computing strategy able to sort through vast numbers of MRI scans and DNA test results. “What Enigma is doing is combing through every pixel of every scan and comparing it to every genome,” says Paul Thompson, the neuroscientist who organized the research. “This is a roadmap to how you do this.”

Thompson, who is head of the Imaging Genetics Center at the University of Southern California, believes Enigma is the largest collaboration ever to combine efforts to study the brain. The new study, published today in the journal Nature, lists 287 authors and 193 institutions. The study involved the analysis of 30,717 brain scans as well as DNA information gathered by researchers in Cambodia, South Africa, the United States, and other countries.


Speaking of games - here’s something coming from Microsoft - preparing to change how we deal with reality - starting to bring to life the world outline in some recent sci-fi novels. If anyone hasn’t read Vernor Vinge’s “Rainbow’s End” or Danil Saurez’s “Daemon” they should - to get a sense of what’s coming. If we think the MOOC was supposed to disrupt how we create learning environments - the next decade will bring immersive environments enabling a whole new way to ‘grasp’ ‘act-with’ and learn-by-doing.
First a two minute video
Microsoft HoloLens - Transform your world with holograms
For the first time ever, Microsoft HoloLens seamlessly blends high-definition holograms with your real world. Holograms will improve the way you do things every day, and enable you to do things you've never done before.
And here’s an article about it.
Microsoft Reveals Windows Holographic, An Augmented Reality User Interface For The World
http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/21/microsoft-reveals-windows-holographic-an-augmented-reality-user-interface-for-the-world/
Microsoft revealed a version of Windows that blends holograms with real world video to provide users with an augmented reality version of their environment that blends real objects with virtual, and virtual interface elements, information boxes and guidelines viewable via a wearable headset device.

Windows Holographic provides ways for engineers to see instructions overlaid directly on the objects they’re working on, Microsoft said on stage, or offers a way for architects to survey and present their designs alongside clients even when separated by great distances. If you want a look at something very similar being done by a company that’s much younger, but aiming at something similar, take a look at Sulon Cortex and what they brought to CES (these guys are from Toronto) - http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/14/sulons-cortex-developer-hardware-impresses-with-a-blend-of-ar-and-vr/
Hologram support in Microsoft’s Windows 10 software is universal, just like their new app infrastructure, which means that you can build once and use everywhere. Microsoft also pointed out that they’re working to help make this compatible with all kinds of emerging hardware on that horizon, including Oculus Rift, and Magic Leap – but they also revealed Microsoft HoloLens, a new in-house headset that will be available “within the Windows 10 timeframe.”

HoloLens is completely wireless, and features see-through lenses, spatial sound and advanced sensors. It’s designed to be a self-contained unit, and it has its own custom CPU and new Holographic Processing Unit (HPU) to work. It doesn’t even require a phone or computer to connect to wirelessly to work, and is meant to be completely independent.
And one more article from Wired.
Project HoloLens: Our Exclusive Hands-On With Microsoft’s Holographic Goggles
The headset is still a prototype being developed under the codename Project Baraboo, or sometimes just “B.” Kipman, with shoulder-length hair and severely cropped bangs, is a nervous inventor, shifting from one red Converse All-Star to the other. Nervous, because he’s been working on this pair of holographic goggles for five years. No, even longer. Seven years, if you go back to the idea he first pitched to Microsoft, which became Kinect. When the motion-sensing Xbox accessory was released, just in time for the 2010 holidays, it became the fastest-selling consumer gaming device of all time.
Right from the start, he makes it clear that Baraboo will make Kinect seem minor league.

Kipman leads me into a briefing room with a drop-down screen, plush couches, and a corner bar stocked with wine and soda (we abstain). He sits beside me, then stands, paces a bit, then sits down again. His wind-up is long. He gives me an abbreviated history of computing, speaking in complete paragraphs, with bushy, expressive eyebrows and saucer eyes that expand as he talks. The next era of computing, he explains, won’t be about that original digital universe. “It’s about the analog universe,” he says. “And the analog universe has a fundamentally different rule set.”

Translation: you used to compute on a screen, entering commands on a keyboard. Cyberspace was somewhere else. Computers responded to programs that detailed explicit commands. In the very near future, you’ll compute in the physical world, using voice and gesture to summon data and layer it atop physical objects. Computer programs will be able to digest so much data that they’ll be able to handle far more complex and nuanced situations. Cyberspace will be all around you.
There are a number of nice visuals and other reviews of AR here: http://www.roadtovr.com/

Here’s one of the companies that is bringing us gesture based interfaces with the digital environment.
48 Crazy Ideas Coming From The $2 Billion Stealth Startup Magic Leap
WANT A PEEK AT WHAT MAGIC LEAP IS WORKING ON? WE PULLED THE BEST SHOTS FROM THEIR LATEST PATENT APPLICATION.
Last October, Fast Company broke news about a stealth startup named Magic Leap that had raised $542 million in a round of financing led by Google. Names attached ranged from the mobile hardware makers at Qualcomm to the special effects studio Weta.

But what the heck were they building? Augmented reality (AR) glasses were our best guess.

Now, Magic Leap has begun filing patents, which give us a much better look at their plans. Glasses? Yes. Glasses that can map their surroundings in a massive cloud database shared by the world’s Magic Leap users. Glasses that project uncanny images right into a wearer’s line of sight. Glasses that can recognize our gestures. Glasses that will make the entire world a canvas for a new digital interface that follows us everywhere we go.

Their latest application is a 180-page opus for user interface, filled with a surplus of imaginative sketches illustrating the platform’s potential. Will all of the ideas end up in some Magic Leap shipped product? Of course not. But the application still gives us the best peek into what Magic Leap is dreaming up for us next. So we pulled out 48 images from the legal documents, and will do our best to walk you through them in good old plainspeak here.


Speaking of learning - here’s a 14 min TED talk that has some very interesting stats in the first 2 min - as well as being thought provoking.
TEDxPSU - Ali Carr-Chellman - Bring Back the Boys: Using Video Games to Re-engage Boys in Learning
Ali Carr-Chellman is an instructional designer and award-winning author who has focused on change, innovations, diffusion, user-design and school change in her work over the past two decades. She has worked at Penn State in the College of Education for the past 16 years in the department of Learning and Performance Systems. She works primarily with doctoral level students focusing on research and producing the next generation of faculty with inspired research ideas and methods. Carr-Chellman also teaches online courses focused on helping practicing teachers learn how to improve their own instructional design practices and how to improve their classrooms.

Her most recent research projects live those values out by asking prisoners and homeless people to think about how to reform schools, bringing new voices to the policy-making table.




She has recently taken the position of Head of the Learning and Performance Systems Department in the College of Education and is excited to work with the faculty and staff in her department through transparent leadership and shared governance.


Here is a new concept for the use of the Bitcoin ‘blockchain’ proposed by IBM. This could be very important as a means to ensure a robust form of security to the IoT. It also signals a sort of endorsement by a significant developer (IBM) into the emerging but esoteric world of the Bitcoin protocol as a new tcp/ip of distributed systems.
IBM Reveals Proof of Concept for Blockchain-Powered Internet of Things
IBM has unveiled its proof of concept for ADEPT, a system developed in partnership with Samsung that uses elements of bitcoin’s underlying design to build a distributed network of devices – a decentralized Internet of Things.

The ADEPT concept, or Autonomous Decentralized Peer-to-Peer Telemetry, taps blockchains to provide the backbone of the system, utilizing a mix of proof-of-work and proof-of-stake to secure transactions.

IBM and Samsung chose three protocols – BitTorrent (file sharing), Ethereum (smart contracts) and TeleHash (peer-to-peer messaging) – to underpin the ADEPT concept. ADEPT was formally unveiled at CES 2015 in Las Vegas.

According to the draft paper, blockchains deployed within the ADEPT system would serve as a ledger of existence for billions of devices that would autonomously broadcast transactions between peers in a three-tier system of peer devices and architecture. By using an implementation of the bitcoin protocol, ADEPT could serve as a bridge between many devices at low cost.


Speaking of games - here’s a very recent DARPA announcement about another Robot competition. The ‘old’ Atlas Robot, although the world’s most sophisticated full size humanoid robot, required an overhead safety line to prevent damage if it fell, and a power cord for the electricity it needed and to do stuff it needs superhuman physical strength. It was so loud that its operators needed ear protection.
That this year’s Atlas is better is understatement. This year’s  challenge will not tolerate robots with any of last year’s frailties or physical support requirements. The speed of improvements likely coming this year and in the next few years will genuinely shock everyone. Humanoids that can do things that we have only ever seen robots do  in movies - they are about to become unrecognisable. The idea that everything that can be automated will be - is a closer horizon than we can imagine.
ATLAS Gets an Upgrade
DARPA revealed upgrades to its Atlas robot on January 20, 2015. The robot was redesigned for DARPA by Boston Dynamics, with the goal of improving power efficiency to better support battery operation. Approximately 75 percent of the robot was rebuilt; only the lower legs and feet were carried over from the original design. The upgraded robot will be used by up to seven teams competing in the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals, which will take place June 5-6, 2015, at Fairplex in Pomona, Calif. Admission to the event is free and open to the public.


Thinking about robots - but with a 3D printing dimension - here’s something here now - where will it be in the next decade? The images are worth the view.
China just 3D-printed an entire mansion. Here’s what it looks like
A Chinese construction company last weekend unveiled its two largest 3D-printed buildings to date. One is a grand-looking, three-story mansion (well, McMansion), and the other is a more utilitarian five-story apartment block. Both are made entirely by 3D printers creating layers of materials that form walls and roofs.

The giant 3D-printed homes are made by Winsun, the same company that cranked out basic one-story homes last year.
This latest project is a proof-of-concept for now, with both the villa and the apartment block (which are undecorated inside) positioned side-by-side in an expo area, according to photos on Chinese sites such Caixin and Netease News.

The 3D-printed mansion, covers an area of 1,100 square meters (11,840 square feet).


Just a short piece - outlining just how much space is required for solar energy capture to provide the same energy the world needs.
Solar Panel Acreage Needed to Power the Entire Planet: 158 mi x 158 mi
The three squares on the map, below, represent how much solar panel acreage would be needed to power Germany (marked "D"), Europe (marked "EU"), and the entire planet (marked "Welt")...


This article is pointing out the just how fast the collapse of cost to produce solar energy is moving. This is more than a solar energy issue - this points to imminent and rapid change in geopolitics. Something that not being included in the discussions in the broadcast media about the collapse of oil prices.
Deutsche Bank: solar at grid parity in most of world by 2017
Investment bank Deutsche Bank is predicting that solar systems will be at grid parity in up to 80 per cent of the global market within 2 years, and says the collapse in the oil price will do little to slow down the solar juggernaut. Giles Parkinson of the Australian-based website Reneweconomy.com reports.
In his 2015 solar outlook, leading analyst Vishal Shah of Deutsche Bank says solar will be at grid parity in most of the world by the end of 2017. That’s because grid-based electricity prices are rising across the world, and solar costs are still falling. Shah predicts solar module costs will fall another 40 per cent over the next four to five years.

Even if electricity prices remain stable, two thirds of the world will find solar to be cheaper than their current conventional energy supply. If electricity costs rise by around 3 per cent a year, then Deutsche’s “Blue sky” scenario is for 80 per cent of countries to be at grid parity for solar.

“We believe the trend is clear: grid parity without subsidies is already here, increasing parity will occur, and solar penetration rates are set to ramp up worldwide,” Shah notes.


Another serious concern related to solar energy in particular is how will incumbents try to shape the business models for the generation and distribution of solar energy toward maintaining current centralized and monopolistic control versus distributed commons-based models.
Big energy retailers intensify attack on rooftop solar subsidies
Big utilities such as Origin Energy and AGL Energy are maintaining their attack on subsidies for rooftop solar, joining forces with industry lobby groups to call for their removal – just as they prepare to roll out solar leasing schemes of their own.
Big energy retailers such as Origin Energy and AGL Energy are maintaining their attack on subsidies for rooftop solar, joining forces with industry lobby groups to call for their removal.

Both Origin Energy and AGL Energy want subsidies for small scale solar removed. In submissions to the review of the Renewable Energy Target being conducted by the Climate Change Authority, both argue – along with the Electricity Supply Association, and the Energy Networks Association – that the costs of the technology have fallen enough to justify the removal of the upfront payments under the small scale technology component of the RET.

“Household solar PV now no longer requires subsidies to be an attractive proposition for households,” AGL Energy says in its submission filed last week. It says the small scale solar target has “already exceeded its original policy intent” of 4,000GWh.

Origin Energy says solar PV is forecast to more than treble by 2020 to more than 13,000GWh. It says that even this estimate may be conservative, considering the attractiveness of solar to businesses, particularly with the rollout of leasing models.


Here’s an interesting article on Solar Energy Panel production. The issue is not simply about the technology but about the actions of entrenched incumbent energy industries.
The World’s Dumbest Trade War
A spat between the United States and China threatens the future of solar power.
Solar power is an environmentalist’s dream, but for decades it was too expensive to be practical. In the past few years, that has finally been changing. Americans are signing up in droves to put panels on their roofs, not only for the good of the climate, but because—once you factor in government incentives—it’s often cheaper than conventional electricity, especially in sunny states. That was unimaginable only 10 years ago.

The boom has been fueled by cheap solar panels from China, which has been heavily subsidizing solar manufacturing.The glut has been good not only for American customers, but for U.S. companies that install solar panels. Startups like Sunrun and the Elon Musk–backed SolarCity have grown explosively by installing Chinese-made panels on U.S. homes and businesses, often through financing mechanisms that require no money down.* As a result, the solar industry has been a bright spot in the U.S. economy, with jobs growing by 20 percent a year. It now employs 140,000 Americans and counting, and is one of the few sectors in which President Obama’s promise of “green jobs” has actually materialized.

But the good times could be coming to an end. It’s not that China is cutting off the supply of cheap panels. It’s that the United States is threatening to slap new tariffs on them that could sharply drive up the price. It would also likely prompt China to retaliate with more duties on U.S.-manufactured polysilicon, a key ingredient in those panels.


Here is another extension of the human sensorium into the universe. A 3 min video - worth the view.
Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Will Bring a New View of the Universe
The National Science Foundation recently announced funds to build the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which will look for evidence of dark matter and dark energy as well as comets, asteroids and other fast-moving objects. UC Davis physics professor Tony Tyson has been working on the telescope for almost 20 years, and is inspired by the prospect of new discoveries waiting to be made.


So what is ‘intelligence’ given how much we talk about aritificial intelligence? Here is wonderful 12 min TED Talk - fascinating and worth the watch.
Heather Barnett: What humans can learn from semi-intelligent slime
Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out.


So what can robots learn from a worm?
Mind of a Worm Uploaded to a LEGO Robot to Make the Weirdest Cyborg Ever
In a breakthrough for artificial intelligence research, a digital clone of the mind of a roundworm (C. Elegans) has been uploaded into a robotic body made from LEGO, as part of the Open Worm Project.

Once the software facsimile of the worm brain was integrated into the LEGO robot it, with no additional programming, exhibited behaviour consistent with the C. Elegans species, avoiding obstacles and attracted by food. The robot carries sensors that imitate the senses of a roundworm, bridged by software modelled on a worm’s nervous system.
For anyone interested in knowing more about the ‘Open Worm’ project here is an excellent FAQ - http://docs.openworm.org/en/0.5/faq.html


Here’s something that sounds worthy of the IgNoble awards - but is really a significant breakthrough.
UCI, fellow chemists find a way to unboil eggs
Ability to quickly restore molecular proteins could slash biotechnology costs
UC Irvine and Australian chemists have figured out how to unboil egg whites – an innovation that could dramatically reduce costs for cancer treatments, food production and other segments of the $160 billion global biotechnology industry, according to findings published today in the journal ChemBioChem.

“Yes, we have invented a way to unboil a hen egg,” said Gregory Weiss, UCI professor of chemistry and molecular biology & biochemistry. “In our paper, we describe a device for pulling apart tangled proteins and allowing them to refold. We start with egg whites boiled for 20 minutes at 90 degrees Celsius and return a key protein in the egg to working order.”

Like many researchers, he has struggled to efficiently produce or recycle valuable molecular proteins that have a wide range of applications but which frequently “misfold” into structurally incorrect shapes when they are formed, rendering them useless.

“It’s not so much that we’re interested in processing the eggs; that’s just demonstrating how powerful this process is,” Weiss said. “The real problem is there are lots of cases of gummy proteins that you spend way too much time scraping off your test tubes, and you want some means of recovering that material.”
“This method … could transform industrial and research production of proteins,” the researchers write in ChemBioChem.

For example, pharmaceutical companies currently create cancer antibodies in expensive hamster ovary cells that do not often misfold proteins. The ability to quickly and cheaply re-form common proteins from yeast or E. coli bacteria could potentially streamline protein manufacturing and make cancer treatments more affordable. Industrial cheese makers, farmers and others who use recombinant proteins could also achieve more bang for their buck.


For anyone who simply want to be inspired. This is a YouTube playlist - but the first one is only 3 min and is worth the watch.
Who we are: Solve for X
We are a community of scientists, inventors, engineers, artists, thinkers, doers, the young, the wise, men and women from every background across every geography connected by a shared optimism that science and technology can cause radically positive things to happen in the world.


Here’s a 3 min video showing how metallic glass is made and how these metal will make our mobiles tougher and even waterproof.
Bulk metallic glasses: A tough new material for manufacturing
Yale Professor Jan Schroers and his graduate students have developed some unique uses for metallic glasses, a particularly tough metallic alloy that can be molded into useful products (like cell phone cases) at relatively lower temperatures and pressures.


For Fun
Here’s something that a lot of boomers might engage themselves with in the next decade - although the media will have evolved. This is a 10 min video - and may surprise.
Elders Play Grand Theft Auto V (Elders React: Gaming)



For all those who may be into Zen and the Art of Archery - this is very cool
Lars Andersen: a new level of archery

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