Thursday, May 21, 2015

Friday Thinking, 22 May 2015

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

Medicine is only the beginning. All the major cloud companies, plus dozens of startups, are in a mad rush to launch a Watson-like cognitive service. According to quantitative analysis firm Quid, AI has attracted more than $17 billion (£10.5bn) in investments since 2009. Last year alone, more than $2 billion was invested in 322 companies with AI-like technology. Facebook and Google have recruited researchers to join their in-house AI research teams. Yahoo!, Intel, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter have all purchased AI companies since last year. Private investment in the AI sector has been expanding 62 per cent a year on average for the past four years, a rate that is expected to continue.

Amid all this activity, a picture of our AI future is coming into view, and it is not the HAL 9000 -- a discrete machine animated by a charismatic (yet potentially homicidal) humanlike consciousness -- or a Singularitan rapture of superintelligence. The AI on the horizon looks more like Amazon Web Services -- cheap, reliable, industrial-grade digital smartness running behind everything, and almost invisible except when it blinks off. This common utility will serve you as much IQ as you want but no more than you need. Like all utilities, AI will be supremely boring, even as it transforms the internet, the global economy and civilisation. It will enliven inert objects, much as electricity did more than a century ago. Everything we electrified we will now cognitise. This new, utilitarian AI will also augment us individually as people (deepening our memory, speeding our recognition) and collectively as a species. There is almost nothing we can think of that cannot be made new, different or interesting by infusing it with some extra IQ. In fact, the business plans of the next 10,000 startups are easy to forecast: take X and add AI. This is a big deal, and now it's here.

Every intelligence has to be taught. A human brain, which is genetically primed to categorise things, still needs to see a dozen examples before it can distinguish between cats and dogs. That's even truer for artificial minds. Even the best-programmed computer has to play at least a thousand games of chess before it gets good at it. Part of the AI breakthrough lies in the incredible avalanche of collected data about our world, which provides the schooling AIs need. Massive databases, self-tracking, web cookies, online footprints, terabytes of storage, decades of search results, Wikipedia and the entire digital universe became the teachers making AI smart.

...Kasparov pioneered the concept of man-plus-machine matches, in which AI augments human chess players rather than competes against them.

Now called freestyle chess matches, these are like mixed-martial-arts fights, where players use whatever combat techniques they want. You can play as your unassisted human self, or you can act as the hand for your supersmart chess computer, merely moving its board pieces, or you can play as a "centaur", which is the human/AI cyborg that Kasparov advocated. A centaur player will listen to the moves whispered by the AI but will occasionally override them - much the way we use GPS in our cars. In the championship Freestyle Battle in 2014, open to all modes of players, pure chess AI engines won 42 games but centaurs won 53 games. Today the best chess player alive is a centaur: Intagrand, a British team of humans and several different chess programs.

But here's the even more surprising part: the advent of AI didn't diminish the performance of purely human chess players. Quite the opposite. Cheap, supersmart chess programs inspired more people than ever to play chess, at more tournaments than ever, and the players got better than ever. There are more than twice as many grandmasters now as there were when Deep Blue first beat Kasparov. The top-ranked human player today, Magnus Carlsen, trained with AIs and has been deemed the most computer-like of all human chess players. He also has the highest human grandmaster rating of all time.
My prediction: by 2024, Google's main product will not be search but AI.

According to ... a survey of 1,195 executives, nearly half of those who had ascended to top-level positions in their firms said they were unable to align colleagues around the goals they set out in the new role, while more than a third admitted that they had failed to meet those initial objectives. PwC, meanwhile, calculated the economic cost of large global companies getting their most important C-suite appointment – CEO – wrong: well over $100 billion.

...many of the people responsible for key corporate appointments – decisions that affect not only careers and companies but also industries and economies – do not clearly understand how to evaluate, or differentiate between, performance, competence, and potential. Few have studied research on effective hiring processes, and even fewer understand the validity and reliability of various assessment methods (including tests, interviews, and reference checks) and the best practices for conducting each. Most are also unfamiliar with the most important leadership competencies and unable to map them to the particular situations of their companies. And hardly any of them have mastered the key concepts of and conditions for talent portability.
Why Boards Get C-Suite Succession So Wrong

Even back in the slow-moving twentieth century Drucker was already telling us that “the most pressing task” was to teach people how to learn. But now, with the rate of change increased so dramatically, I would argue that it is not enough to teach people how to learn. In a world that is changing so fast anything you learn from another person might have changed from the time and place when it was true.

In a world that is changing, the most pressing task today is to teach people how to teach themselves.
This means teaching people how to lead themselves: how to identify what matters most them and choose a direction to move forward, how to create an inspiring vision that maintains their motivation, and how to make a plan when all around is changing.

If the most pressing task of the late 20th century was to teach people how to learn, the most pressing task now is to teach people how to lead: to lead both themselves and others
Updating Drucker

This is a great 14 min TED talk that is a must view. He also offers a nice explanation of the blockchain. We all have to think very seriously about the impact of ubiquitous solar energy, IoT and Blockchain technology on the state of the world.
The future will be decentralized | Charles Hoskinson | TEDxBermuda
Tech entrepreneur and mathematician Charles Hoskinson says Bitcoin-related technology is about to revolutionise property rights, banking, remote education, private law and crowd-funding for the developing world.

Charles Hoskinson is Chief Executive Officer at Thanatos Holdings, Director at The Bitcoin Education Project, and President at the Hoskinson Content Group LLC.

Charles is a Colorado based technology entrepreneur and mathematician. He attended University of Colorado, Boulder to study analytic number theory in graduate school before moving into cryptography and social network theory.

His professional experience includes work with NoSQL and Bigdata using MongoDB and Hadoop for several data mining projects involving crowdsource research and also development of web spiders. He is the author of several white papers on the design and deployment of low bandwidth prolog based semantical web scraping bots as well as analysis of metamorphic computer viruses through a case study on Zmist.
His current projects focus on evangelism and education for Bitcoin and fully homomorphic encryption schemes.

Here something that suggests another looming shadow emanating from the Internet of Things - This is very important.
GM says you don't own your car, you just license it
GM has joined with John Deere in asking the government to confirm that you literally cannot own your car because of the software in its engine.

Like Deere, GM wants to stop the Copyright Office from granting an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that would allow you to jailbreak the code in your car's engine so that you can take it to a non-GM mechanic for service, or fix it yourself. By controlling who can service your car, GM can force you to buy only official, expensive parts, protecting its bottom line.

This is an interesting article by the controversial Christopher Hedges. It is interesting in that it offers a view that complements the view offered by Jeremy Rifkin’s ‘Zero Marginal Cost Society’ that describes a trajectory of change toward a collaborative commons. Hard to see how we will get from here to there - and this is perhaps the more scary possibility.
The U.S. is on the edge of rebellion, Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges warns in new book
The United States is primed for a rebellion. So argues Chris Hedges in his new book, Wages of Rebellion, in which the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and polemicist examines revolts from 1700s to the ending of apartheid in South Africa, as well as the “sublime madness” that drives the people at the centre of such rebellions. Why is America next? He recently spoke with the National Post’s Ishmael Daro about what he sees as a pot about to boil over.

I didn’t write it as a warning or a prediction. I wrote it more as an assessment. I covered disintegrating societies like Yugoslavia. I know how they break down; I know what the warning signs are, so it’s familiar. I don’t think at this point there’s much dispute. Even just the financial indicators in terms of wealth disparity and chronic unemployment. The fact that Congress has a nine-per-cent approval rating. Where I’m coming from, the book is an attempt to explain where we are in this particular historical period.

Something’s coming, with the twin effects of climate change and the precarious nature of global speculation, and if we go down, we’re going to need each other. We are going to have to create a communitarian network, and that goes down to things like local food, farmers’ markets, something as simple as that. The wealthy are not going to take care of us. They will retreat into their gated compounds where they will have access to food and water and all sorts of things we won’t.

Well this is still far from a universal guaranteed income - but it does show a fundamentally new approach for an economy of productive citizenry.
Medicine Hat becomes the first city in Canada to eliminate homelessness
Medicine Hat, a city in southern Alberta, pledged in 2009 to put an end to homelessness. Now they say they've fulfilled their promise.
No one in the city spends more than 10 days in an emergency shelter or on the streets. If you've got no place to go, they'll simply provide you with housing.

"We're pretty much able to meet that standard today. Even quicker, actually, sometimes," Mayor Ted Clugston tells As It Happens host Carol Off.
Housing is tight in Medicine Hat. Frequent flooding in the past few years didn't help matters. With money chipped in by the province, the city built many new homes.

Clugston says that it costs about $20,000 a year to house someone. If they're on the street, it can cost up to $100,000 a year.

"This is the cheapest and the most humane way to treat people," he says.
"Housing First puts everything on its head. It used to be, 'You want a home, get off the drugs or deal with your mental health issues,'" Clugston says. "If you're addicted to drugs, it's going to be pretty hard to get off them, if you're sleeping under a park bench."

Here’s a 4 min video about holocracy - no managers approach that Zappos is instituting
How Zappos will run with no job titles
Zappos is transitioning to a new organizational structure. It's not what you're used to, and it's not a democracy. Here's a look at how a company can run as a holacracy.
And here’s a 40 min video that explains how Zappos institutes Holocracy.
Foundation: Tony Hsieh On Building A Great Company Culture
Zappos is transitioning to a new organizational structure. It's not what you're used to, and it's not a democracy. Here's a look at how a company can run as a holacracy.
And more on the re-conceptualization of how organization can be governed is this great 34 min video.
Powerful insights on the emergence of a new organizational model - Frederic Laloux
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." - Richard Buckminster Fuller

Based on extensive research of pioneering organizations, the book tells the story of the emergence of a new management paradigm, a whole new way to structure and operate organizations. It makes for radically more soulful, purposeful and productive workplaces.

Here’s another illustration of new avenues of learning new forms of literacy.
The GitHub for Kids Urges Them to Be Inventors, Not Users
FOR ALEX KLEIN, online forums were not an altogether friendly place to get an education in coding. As a kid, he says he would peruse the sites and ask for help where he needed it, only to be met with constant criticism from members of the community.

“People would say, ‘You don’t know how to do that? What are you like 10 years old?’ and I was like ‘Yeah. I am,'” Klein remembers.

Klein never felt that there was an easy entry point for a curious kid to get involved in technology, and so, last year, he decided to create one himself. He launched Kano, a kid-focused computer company that not only teaches young people to code but also how to build their own computers. Kano launched on Kickstarter in 2013 and has since sold 40,000 kits to users around the world. Last week, Klein announced the company had raised $15 million in venture funding.

But what is, perhaps more impressive than the fact that 40,000 kids and counting have now built their own computers is what they’ve managed to do with those computers once they’re built. In just four-and-a-half months, some 27,000 kids have published nearly 6 million lines of code on a site called Kano World. It’s a place for Kano users to share games they’ve customized, Minecraft features they’ve devised, and songs they’ve written, and turn them into lessons for other Kano users. In that way, Kano World is quickly emerging as a sort of GitHub for kids, a place for them to learn with and from each other.

Speaking of kids, learning and new literacies? Here’s a 1 hr video on why video games teach kids to be smart.
The Game Believes in You: A conversation with Greg Toppo
In the age of iPads and Fitbits, how should educators harness new technology to improve student learning? In his new book, The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter, Greg Toppo recounts how innovative educators are changing traditional classroom instruction by incorporating digital play.

Here’s an important milestone for one company - but anticipates what’s coming soon form most Tel/Cable companies.
Comcast is now officially an internet provider with a side business in cable TV
Comcast has hit an important milestone: The media conglomerate told investors on a quarterly earnings call this morning that it now has more subscribers for internet service than cable TV. “So broadband has, in fact, surpassed video in terms of the number of subs,” Neil Smit, Comcast’s cable boss said on the call. Here’s what that looks like through the last quarter:

So what sort of labor force does the future need?
New factory with 100 printers, only 3 employees
Last week, CloudDDM revealed a first-of-its kind, fully-automated 3D printing factory right in the heart of UPS’ worldwide hub in Louisville, Ky, that will be able to use the tie-in to UPS to ship its products quickly.  

“We’ll have 100 high-tech 3D printers running 24 hours, 7 days a week,” said CloudDDM’s founder Mitch Free. And it’ll need just three employees: one for each of the eight-hour shifts. (UPS will handle all of the packaging and shipping logistics.)
CloudDDM uses 3D printers to make prototypes and product parts for corporate customers. Customers submit their orders online by uploading a 3D file; software immediately estimates the price. Orders start printing once a customer enter his or her credit card info.

“We are turning around orders that typically take a week to complete, in 24 hours,” Free said, adding that orders can range from one to 1,000 pieces.
The fact that the factory can process hundreds of units at a time will cut costs for customers by at least 50% compared to traditional manufacturing, he said.

Free, an entrepreneur and manufacturing expert, got the idea for CloudDDM (which stands for direct digital manufacturing) a year ago when he noticed growing demand for prototypes parts.

Speaking of automating work - here’s something that even artists - will have to content with.
Machine-Learning Algorithm Mines Rap Lyrics, Then Writes Its Own
An automated rap-generating algorithm pushes the boundaries of machine creativity, say computer scientists.
The ancient skill of creating and performing spoken rhyme is thriving today because of the inexorable rise in the popularity of rapping. This art form is distinct from ordinary spoken poetry because it is performed to a beat, often with background music.

And the performers have excelled. Adam Bradley, a professor of English at the University of Colorado has described it in glowing terms. Rapping, he says, crafts “intricate structures of sound and rhyme, creating some of the most scrupulously formal poetry composed today.”

The highly structured nature of rap makes it particularly amenable to computer analysis. And that raises an interesting question: if computers can analyze rap lyrics, can they also generate them?

Today, we get an affirmative answer thanks to the work of Eric Malmi at the University of Aalto in Finland and few pals. These guys have trained a machine-learning algorithm to recognize the salient features of a few lines of rap and then choose another line that rhymes in the same way on the same topic. The result is an algorithm that produces rap lyrics that rival human-generated ones for their complexity of rhyme.

Now who wouldn’t want one of these? The 2 min video is worth the watch.
Robot Master Chef Cooks 2,000 Recipes, Cleans Up, Does the Dishes
A California company, Morley Robotics, has teamed with the UK’s Shadow Robot Company, to develop a smartphone-controlled robot master chef capable of cooking world-class fare just as Chef Watson. The robot was unveiled at a recent event at Hanover Messe Robotic Technology Fair in Germany. The Robot Chef created a “lobster bisque” for the event in about 30 minutes.

The Morley Robot Master Chef, the product of over two decades of research and development, has two robotic hands, each containing 24 motors, 26 micro-controllers and 129 sensors. The arms have been designed and programmed to match the movements of a professional human chef. Owners will still have to lay out ingredients, but once that’s done the robot will do the rest, including cleaning up and washing the dishes.

Much of the programming for the robot was achieved by using motion capture technology and “Master Chef” Tim Anderson, whose movements underlie the robot’s capabilities.

Speaking about automating work - here’s something that may augment our current security forces. This is a must see if only for the graphics of the robots - and the testing course is also very interesting.
Meet the future first responders
These 25 robots will compete for $3.5 million in a disaster-response simulation sponsored by the Defense Department
The winner could become our next soldier. DARPA, the research arm of the Defense Department, was inspired to start the competition after the 2011 tsunami in Japan, when a robot could have gone into the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and prevented a hydrogen buildup that led to an explosion.

This is another step toward a memristor based computer - which offers a new paradigm for computation and could take Moore’s Law in a new direction while remaining on an exponential change trajectory.
Electronic memory may bring bionic brain one step closer
Using a matrix of nano-sized memristors, researchers working at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) and the University of California, Santa Barbara claim to have constructed the world’s first electronic memory cell that effectively mimics the analog process of the human brain. By storing memories as multiple threads of varying information, rather than a collection of ones and zeroes, scientists believe that this device may prove to be the first step towards creating a completely artificial, bionic brain.

Working at the MicroNano Research Facility of RMIT, the researchers believe that the breakthrough not only carries them closer to reproducing key aspects of the human brain electronically, but could also one day assist in providing effective treatments for neurological conditions – such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases – by studying such diseases outside the body using artificial brains. Eventually, even cybernetic implants could conceivably be developed from this technology.

"This is the closest we have come to creating a brain-like system with memory that learns and stores analog information and is quick at retrieving this stored information," said Dr Sharath Sriram, co-leader of the RMIT Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group."The human brain is an extremely complex analog computer … its evolution is based on its previous experiences, and up until now this functionality has not been able to be adequately reproduced with digital technology."

Thinking about new forms of computation - which will likely lead to new potential for Artificial Intelligence - which brings questions of the future of human cognitive capabilities.
A few months ago I made the trek to the sylvan campus of the IBM research labs in Yorktown Heights, New York, to catch an early glimpse of the fast-arriving, long-overdue future of artificial intelligence.

This was the home of Watson, the electronic genius that conquered US quiz show Jeopardy! in 2011. The original Watson is still here -- it's about the size of a bedroom, with ten upright, refrigerator-shaped machines forming the four walls. The tiny interior cavity gives technicians access to the jumble of wires and cables on the machines' backs. It is surprisingly warm inside, as if the cluster were alive.

Today's Watson is very different. It no longer exists solely within a wall of cabinets but is spread across a cloud of open-standard servers that run several hundred "instances" of the AI at once. Like all things cloudy, Watson is served to simultaneous customers anywhere in the world, who can access it using their phones, their desktops or their own data servers. This kind of AI can be scaled up or down on demand. Because AI improves as people use it, Watson is always getting smarter; anything it learns in one instance can be immediately transferred to the others. And instead of one single program, it's an aggregation of diverse software engines -- its logic-deduction engine and its language-parsing engine might operate on different code, on different chips, in different locations -- all are cleverly integrated into a unified stream of intelligence.

Consumers can tap into that always-on intelligence directly but also through third-party apps that harness the power of this AI cloud. Like many parents of a bright mind, IBM would like Watson to pursue a medical career, so it should come as no surprise that one of the apps under development is a medical-diagnosis tool. Most of the previous attempts to make a diagnostic AI have been pathetic failures, but Watson really works. When, in plain English, I give it the symptoms of a disease I once contracted in India, it gives me a list of hunches, ranked from most to least probable. The most likely cause, it declares, is Giardia -- the correct answer. This expertise isn't yet available to patients directly; IBM provides access to Watson's intelligence to partners, helping them develop user-friendly interfaces for subscribing doctors and hospitals. "I believe something like Watson will soon be the world's best diagnostician -- whether machine or human," says Alan Greene, chief medical officer of Scanadu, a startup that is building a diagnostic device inspired by the Star Trek medical tricorder and powered by a cloud AI. "At the rate AI technology is improving, by the time they are an adult a kid born today will rarely need to  see a doctor to get a diagnosis."

This is an interesting interview with Allen Buchanan philosopher and ethicist.
Why Cognitive Enhancement Is In Your Future
Allen Buchanan is one such bioethicist. As a Professor of Philosophy at Duke University and a consultant to the President’s Council on Bioethics, Buchanan has written extensively about the ethical implications of human enhancement. In his most recent book Better Than Human he makes a sustained philosophical case for pursuing human enhancement, arguing that its critics often proceed from a deeply flawed understanding of human nature. Last week I spoke with Buchanan at length about the ethics of deep brain stimulation, the history of cognitive enhancement, and what a world of cognitively enhanced human beings might look like.

But if we think Google is the only player in AI or in search - here is an article that suggests just how volatile leadership in technology can be.
Baidu’s Artificial-Intelligence Supercomputer Beats Google at Image Recognition
A supercomputer specialized for the machine-learning technique known as deep learning could help software understand us better.

Chinese search giant Baidu says it has invented a powerful supercomputer that brings new muscle to an artificial-intelligence technique giving software more power to understand speech, images, and written language.

The new computer, called Minwa and located in Beijing, has 72 powerful processors and 144 graphics processors, known as GPUs. Late Monday, Baidu released a paper claiming that the computer had been used to train machine-learning software that set a new record for recognizing images, beating a previous mark set by Google.

“Our company is now leading the race in computer intelligence,” said Ren Wu, a Baidu scientist working on the project, speaking at the Embedded Vision Summit on Tuesday. Minwa’s computational power would probably put it among the 300 most powerful computers in the world if it weren’t specialized for deep learning, said Wu. “I think this is the fastest supercomputer dedicated to deep learning,” he said. “We have great power in our hands—much greater than our competitors.”

Computing power matters in the world of deep learning, which has produced breakthroughs in speech, image, and face recognition and improved the image-search and speech-recognition services offered by Google and Baidu.

Here’s a breakthrough that will hasten the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) and much more in the digital environment.
World's first fully digital radio transmitter built purely from microprocessor technology
For the first time in history, a prototype radio has been created that is claimed to be completely digital, generating high-frequency radio waves purely through the use of integrated circuits and a set of patented algorithms without using conventional analog radio circuits in any way whatsoever. This breakthrough technology promises to vastly improve the wireless communications capabilities of everything from 5G mobile technology to the multitude devices aimed at supporting the Internet of Things (IoT).

The significance of this new technology cannot be overstated: Every aspect of radio frequency generation is said to be created using a string of digital bits, and nothing else. There are no analog circuits, no filters, no chokes, none of the traditional circuitry and components expected in a radio transmitter. Consisting of a mere handful of components, including a couple of integrated circuits, an antenna, and not much else, the transmitter – dubbed Pizzicato – promises to change the face of wireless transmission.

Created by Cambridge Consultants, the initial trials of the Pizzicato have been claimed to show that it has fully met all the expectations of its myriad performance requirements. But more than this, the Pizzicato has brought bulky radio circuits down to microprocessor levels, with the promise of even smaller, more efficient uses of the technology in future.

Here’s another dot in the emerging domain of longevity - and health.
Neurobiologists restore youthful vigor to adult brains
They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. The same can be said of the adult brain. Its connections are hard to change, while in children, novel experiences rapidly mold new connections during critical periods of brain development.

UC Irvine neurobiologist Sunil Gandhi and colleagues wanted to know whether the flexibility of the juvenile brain could be restored to the adult brain. Apparently, it can: They've successfully re-created a critical juvenile period in the brains of adult mice. In other words, the researchers have reactivated brain plasticity—the rapid and robust changes in neural pathways and synapses as a result of learning and experience.

And in doing so, they've cleared a trail for further study that may lead to new treatments for developmental brain disorders such as autism and schizophrenia. Results of their study appear online in Neuron.

And speaking of longevity - how about longer and better lives?
Ocumetics Bionic Lens could give you vision 3x better than 20/20
Clinical trials still needed before device can be approved
Imagine being able to see three times better than 20/20 vision without wearing glasses or contacts — even at age 100 or more — with the help of bionic lenses implanted in your eyes.

Dr. Garth Webb, an optometrist in British Columbia who invented the Ocumetics Bionic Lens, says patients would have perfect vision and that driving, progressive and contact lenses would become a dim memory as the eye-care industry is transformed.

Webb says people who have the specialized lenses surgically inserted would never get cataracts because their natural lenses, which decay over time, would have been replaced.
Perfect eyesight would result "no matter how crummy your eyes are," Webb says, adding the Bionic Lens would be an option for someone who depends on corrective lenses and is over about age 25, when the eye structures are fully developed.

Another article on one of my favorite topics - our microbial profile.
The infant gut microbiome: New studies on its origins and how it's knocked out of balance
A fecal sample analysis of 98 Swedish infants over the first year of life found a connection between the development of a child's gut microbiome and the way he or she is delivered. Babies born via C-section had gut bacteria that showed significantly less resemblance to their mothers compared to those that were delivered vaginally.

The study, which appears May 11 in Cell Host & Microbe's special issue on "The Host-Microbiota Balance," also found nutrition to be a main driver of infant gut microbiome development—specifically the decision to breast-feed or bottle-feed.

"Our findings surprisingly demonstrated that cessation of breastfeeding, rather than introduction of solid foods, is the major driver in the development of an adult-like microbiota," says lead study author Fredrik Bäckhed of The University of Gothenburg, Sweden. "However, the effect of an altered microbiome early in life on health and disease in adolescence and adulthood remains to be demonstrated."

Gut bacteria are suspected to be a source of nutrients and vitamins for a growing infant. Our intestinal tenants are able to interact with normal cellular processes to, for example, produce essential amino acids. Understanding the role individual gut microbes play in metabolism, immunity, and even behavior is an active area of investigation.

Growing food in order to grow food - here’s another step in the domestication of DNA.
Finding Ways to Feed the Fish That Feed Us
This past weekend, I tasted shrimp grown with feed made from genetically-engineered bacteria.

The bacteria, which are way more interesting than the shrimp, are the brainchildren of Larry Feinberg, CEO and co-founder of Knipbio, a Boston-area startup. They’re interesting because they help address one of the gnarliest problems of a growing human population: feeding them fish.

We’re getting about as much from the oceans as we can. Too much, in some places; many species are severely overfished. We’ve got more and more people, but no more ocean, so fish farming has to make up the difference. Which it has already begun to do. The FAO estimates that, right now, about half the fish we eat are farmed, but that’s expected to increase to almost two-thirds by 2030.

But you have to peel back the cover on that statistic to get to one of the central problems of fish farming: fish eat other fish. Two of the components of all fish feed, the protein and the oil, are commonly made from small wild fish like anchovies and menhaden. Harvesting wild fish to feed farmed fish gets us back to Square One, the overfishing problem we’re trying to solve.

Aquaculture is still a win in that it produces about twice as much fish as it consumes, but we need to do better and Feinberg’s bacteria are one way to do that.  The microbes are about 60 percent protein, and have been genetically modified to closely match the protein needs of fish.  “Instead of beer, we’re brewing protein,” says Feinberg, explaining the process by which he ferments his product. The bacterium, originally a lab-created, genetically engineered microbe, multiplies on a diet of methanol, giving up carbon dioxide in the process. On the sourdough model, some are kept back to start the next batch.

On the energy front - this is very interesting.
China cuts emissions for first time in more than 10 years
China’s recent scrapping of small coal plants will avoid the release of as much as 11.4 million metric tonnes annually of climate-warming carbon dioxide, helping the country cut emissions for the first time in more than a decade.

The impact is a sign of what is to come as China pushes for a cap on coal and moves to shutter, or refit, its dirtiest coal-burning power plants. China overhauled or scrapped as much as 3.3 gigawatts of the facilities in 2014, according to a March statement from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The reduction in greenhouse gases assumes most of the capacity was retired because it does not meet current standards and estimates that the plants annually used 5.2 million tonnes of coal, producing 2.2 million tonnes of carbon emissions per million tonne of coal, according to estimates from Ms Sophie Lu, a Beijing-based analyst from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

“China has tightened environmental protection and has taken measures to close small plants that don’t meet the standards for the environment and replaced them with less-polluting bigger plants,” said Shanghai-based analyst from Yuanta Securities HK Sun Weifeng. “This may not have a significant impact in the short term but will be very meaningful in the long run.”

And continuing this trend and anticipating a looming change in geopolitical-economy.
The rise and rise of the fossil fuel divestment movement
As Oxford University rules out investing in coal and tar sands, more than 220 institutions have now committed to divesting since the climate campaign launched in 2012
In 2013 the Fossil Free campaign was launched in the UK. It highlighted the £5bn held in universities’ endowments, with the first campaigns launching at Edinburgh, Birmingham and University College London. Yet it was the Quakers in Britain who became the first to divest in October that year.

By the end of the year, research by Oxford University suggested that it had become the fastest growing divestment campaign in history, surpassing those targeting the tobacco industry and apartheid in South Africa. The movement has only continued to accelerate.
The most symbolic announcement of all came in September 2014 as the heirs to Rockefeller oil fortune came on board, withdrawing the fossil fuel investments in the $860m Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

“We are quite convinced that if he [John D Rockefeller] were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy,” said president Stephen Heintz. He made the statement as the fund joined with 800 global investors pledging to divest from fossil fuels ahead of a UN summit on climate change.

This is for everyone interested in the power of media to shape our perceptions - a Must View. Really very interesting - the causality of meaning - not a pre-determined space.
The Kuleshov Experiment - "The Kuleshov Effect"

This is another article related to the development of computer assisted mathematical proofer - as a necessity in the 21st century. The complexity of our knowledge requires new forms of pattern recognition, externalized memory and algorithmic validations. The essence of this - supports George Lakoff’s view that there can be no universal structure of reason - such as structures the ‘pattern which connects’.  This requires significant ‘deep’ thought. This is a Must Read for anyone interested in the constraints of any system of formal logic - including math.
Will Computers Redefine the Roots of Math?
When a legendary mathematician found a mistake in his own work, he embarked on a computer-aided quest to eliminate human error. To succeed, he has to rewrite the century-old rules underlying all of mathematics.
Voevodsky, 48, is a permanent faculty member at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, N.J. He was born in Moscow but speaks nearly flawless English, and he has the confident bearing of someone who has no need to prove himself to anyone. In 2002 he won the Fields Medal, which is often considered the most prestigious award in mathematics.

Now, as their train approached the city, Voevodsky pulled out his laptop and opened a program called Coq, a proof assistant that provides mathematicians with an environment in which to write mathematical arguments. Awodey, a mathematician and logician at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pa., followed along as Voevodsky wrote a definition of a mathematical object using a new formalism he had created, called univalent foundations. It took Voevodsky 15 minutes to write the definition.
“I was trying to convince [Awodey] to do [his mathematics in Coq],” Voevodsky explained during a lecture this past fall. “I was trying to convince him that it’s easy to do.”

The idea of doing mathematics in a program like Coq has a long history. The appeal is simple: Rather than relying on fallible human beings to check proofs, you can turn the job over to computers, which can tell whether a proof is correct with complete certainty. Despite this advantage, computer proof assistants haven’t been widely adopted in mainstream mathematics. This is partly because translating everyday math into terms a computer can understand is cumbersome and, in the eyes of many mathematicians, not worth the effort.

The accepted foundation of mathematics is set theory. Like any foundational system, set theory provides a collection of basic concepts and rules, which can be used to construct the rest of mathematics. Set theory has sufficed as a foundation for more than a century, but it can’t readily be translated into a form that computers can use to check proofs. So with his decision to start formalizing mathematics on the computer, Voevodsky set in motion a process of discovery that ultimately led to something far more ambitious: a recasting of the underpinnings of mathematics.

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