Thursday, July 2, 2015

Friday Thinking, 3 July 2015

Hello – Friday Thinking is curated on the basis of my own curiosity and offered in the spirit of sharing. Many thanks to those who enjoy this. 
In the 21st Century curiosity will SKILL the cat.

The tiny kingdom of Bhutan, wedged between Tibet and India, became famous for Gross National Happiness (GNH), thanks to its king. This was not your usual king.  Before voluntarily ceding power to democratic elections, he decreed an increase in the country’s forest cover, had every kid in the country learning English, and in 1972 introduced Gross National Happiness. GNH resonated with people around the world who were fed up with Gross National Product (GNP).

GNH stood on four “pillars”: Good Governance, Sustainable Development, Preservation and Promotion of Culture, and Environmental Conservation, elaborated in nine “domains”, including health, education, psychological wellbeing, and community vitality.  

I was curious about this GNH, and being a fan of mountains, I visited Bhutan, in 2006. Two things struck me in discussions with a number of the country’s knowledgeable people. First, they had no idea how to measure much of GNH, and second, this did not matter because the country seemed to be behaving true to its precepts. As a BBC reporter put it, GNH had become “a way of life” in Bhutan—a poor country where life seemed to be rather pleasant.

Not long after, the technocrats descended on Bhutan, to fix GNH. After all, if the Bhutanese didn’t measure GNH, how could they possibly manage it?2 Soon each of the nine domains had “its own weighted and un-weighted GNH index...analyzed using...72 indicators.... Mathematical formulas have even been developed to reduce happiness to its tiniest component parts”3 One survey, which took 5-6 hours to complete, “included about 750 variables.”4 All this sure took care of gross, but how about happiness?

Critics, especially in the economics profession, have challenged the subjective judgements of GNH. “Economics professor Deirdre McCloskey criticizes such measurements as unscientific…making the analogy that society could not ‘base physics on asking people whether today was 'hot, nice, or cold’’’. If only education, culture, and well-being were as measurable as the temperature. (The scientific pretensions of economists have been referred to as “physics envy”.) It’s tough to tell who have been the greater threat to GNH: friends who want to measure it or enemies who want to eradicate it.

Not long after all this measuring, in 2013, Tshering Tobgay, who had studied with economist Michael Porter of the Harvard Business School, became prime minister. He soon claimed that GNH has “distracted [some people] from the real business at hand”: “The bottom line is that we have to work harder” (italics added). What the current king of Bhutan describes as “development with values”, including “kindness, equality, and humanity”, the current prime minister finds “very difficult”, in fact “complicating stuff for me.” Which stuff—happiness? Or measurement?
Henry Mintzberg - How National Happiness became gross

"Failure" is Google's business model.
Every other season, there are articles that pop up on the blogs and even here on the Verge forums about how "Google+ is a failure", "the Nexus program is a failure", "Android is a failure"; "Android Wear is a failure"; "Android TV is a failure"; "Google Glass is a failure"; "Google Wallet is a failure"; "{Insert Google project name} is a failure".

These diatribes are often grounded in the obsolete binary logic of success and failure. The misguided conclusion is that if an entity isn't profitable, it's a failure.

But, here's the shocker, Google loves failure. In fact, it seems they've designed or evolved their culture, practices, projects and business models around failure. One of the most insightful revelations about how Google embraces failure is given in this recent I/O talk.
Google's obsession with "failure"

“The street finds its own use for things”, William Gibson, famed science fiction author, once wrote. Whatever a technology is designed for, the people who use it, and the environment it’s used in, will adapt it to suit other needs.

How might his insight come to life in the year 2100? The advent of advanced machine intelligence, automation technologies, urbanisation and the increasing connectivity between human and machine offer interesting prospects.

By 2100, as much as 84% of the Earth’s 10.8 bn people will live in cities, according to the UN. Potentially dozens more megacities—cities with populations of 10m or more, 28 of which exist today, will pepper the planet—with developing countries accounting for almost 89% of the growth.
What will cities look like in 2100?

Balancing innovation and business results
The 20 percent time has been a hallmark of Google’s culture from the very beginning. And I think that’s attracted people to come and work on a core product, but to have the ability to think about where this could go that would be, again, tangential to the core product.

I think it’s something that continues to be important to the culture, but it’s not hard and fast. It’s not literally that you have one day a week that you can go work on something totally different. You need to think about, if you’re an engineer, for instance, how that product—that 20 percent time product—would be complementary to something that is now our focus. In the early days, it was “Let a thousand flowers bloom, and we’ll see what happens.” Now there’s a lot more focus, and we say, “If we’re going to do 20 percent time, how is it tangential to a core product?”

Importantly, it can’t be just you out there doing your own 20 percent time. You need to create a team that would go work on a 20 percent project. So part of it is, you’ve got to be a good salesperson internally. Part of it is that it needs to be something that you are able to convince people that it’s a good enough idea that they should take their 20 percent time and go work on it, as opposed to creating their own idea.
Learning from Google’s digital culture

Change in the conditions of change - this is what is looming in the next decade - a shift toward new attractors of efficiency.
The Way Humans Get Electricity Is About to Change Forever
These six shifts will transform markets over the next 25 years
The renewable-energy boom is here. Trillions of dollars will be invested over the next 25 years, driving some of the most profound changes yet in how humans get their electricity. That's according to a new forecast by Bloomberg New Energy Finance that plots out global power markets to 2040.

Here are six massive shifts coming soon to power markets near you:
1. Solar Prices Keep Crashing
By 2026, utility-scale solar will be competitive for the majority of the world
2. Solar Billions Become Solar Trillions
With solar power so cheap, investments will surge. Expect $3.7 trillion in solar investments between now and 2040
3. The Revolution Will Be Decentralized
The biggest solar revolution will take place on rooftops.
4. Global Demand Slows
growth in demand for electricity is slowing. The reason: efficiency
So even as people rise from poverty to middle class faster than ever, BNEF predicts that global electricity consumption will remain relatively flat. In the next 25 years, global demand will grow about 1.8 percent a year, compared with 3 percent a year from 1990 to 2012. In wealthy OECD countries, power demand will actually decline.  
5. Natural Gas Burns Briefly
Few countries outside the U.S. will replace coal plants with natural gas. Instead, developing countries will often opt for some combination of coal, gas, and renewables.
6. The Climate Is Still Screwed
The shift to renewables is happening shockingly fast, but not fast enough to prevent perilous levels of global warming.

Moore technology hinting at geopolitical change?
Nano Satellites Work with Ground Sensors to Offer New Eye on Disaster Relief and Agriculture
A swarm of small satellites could give critical infrastructure an Internet connection that never goes down.
More and more commercial and industrial equipment is becoming connected to data networks so they can be managed more efficiently, forming what’s known as the Internet of things. Terran’s always-on connections might make that approach more dependable.

Satellite Internet connections available today are mostly targeted at people, not machines, and they’re expensive. They use large satellites parked in geostationary orbits roughly 36,000 kilometres over the equator, meaning that significant energy is required to reach them with a signal from the ground.

Terran is launching small satellites that orbit at only 600 kilometres. That lower altitude makes it practical for low-powered, even disposable, sensors to use a satellite data link, says Previte.

The connection is designed to be more reliable than it is fast. The U.S. army is to use Terran sensors to track vehicles and troops that transmit at tens of kilobytes per second. But Terran expects lower-powered sensors to send up data at about a tenth that speed.
In addition to aiding in disaster relief and tracking shipping containers, planes, and boats, Previte envisions the sensors being used for environmental monitoring. For example, they could be dropped out of a helicopter or drone into a growing oil spill, or onto an active volcano to track lava flows. Terran anticipates significant interest from farmers, who could place sensors in fields or even around the necks of cows.

It should be evident by now that energy is looming over a fundamental change in geopolitics - this will be definitely felt by 2025 - but here’s an article from the World Economic Forum that examines another force driving geopolitical change. If people haven’t buckled-up the seat belts by now (it also a key rule for the Zombie apocalypse noted in Zombieland) better buckle up soon.
What does nanotechnology mean for geopolitics?
This post is the first in a series examining the connections between nanotechnology and the top 10 trends facing the world, as described in the Outlook on the Global Agenda 2015. All authors are members of the Global Agenda Council on Nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology is less than four decades old and has already affected fields as diverse as consumer goods, weapons and therapeutic procedures. As it promises to revolutionize industries and accelerate convergence of sciences and disciplines, it’s also bringing about societal and geopolitical shifts.

A nanometre is a billionth of a metre. A human hair is about 80,000-100,000 nanometres wide. The manipulation of matter at this scale offers innovative tools to expand the limits of what is possible, allowing for the creation of new materials or the modification of existing ones. At the nanoscale, the properties of materials can differ fundamentally from their characteristics at the macro scale. For example, despite weighing one-sixth as much as steel, carbon nanotubes are 100 times stronger.

The incremental development of nanotechnology and its transformative capacity are not without national security implications. Recognizing its enormous potential, the federal government of the United States established the National Nanotechnology Initiative in 2000 in order to maximize coherence of research and development (R&D). The initiative supports the infrastructure to develop nanotech “for the public good”.

Here’s a significant move in the world of banking.
The Future of Banking Arrives: Atom Bank Receives License in UK for Virtual Bank
“A Branch-free, Paper-free and Stress-free Bank”
The traditional banking industry has been rather slow to innovate.  Hundreds of years of operating branches, with tellers, is a hard thing to change.  It is also a costly and inconvenient business structure in a world where everything is accomplished on smart devices.

Convenient, simple and user-friendly.  No need to stand in line in a drab bank branch dealing with quizzical bankers.  Today the Bank of England has licensed Atom Bank, as it challenges established norms, representing another transition point in the revolution of internet finance.

Atom Bank focuses on customer service, transparency, digital convenience and low cost.  All on your smartphone. Atom Bank CEO Mark Mullen described the license as “ground breaking”.

“This is a wonderful vote of confidence in Atom. Atom will offer a quality of digital experience without parallel in this sector or in many others. Our team reflects this. Between us we’ve built and run some of the most highly respected banks in the UK, brought ground-breaking innovation to manufacturing and service businesses, and created great software with a worldwide reach. Now all of this is being poured into building Atom so that customers will have a bank in their pocket that is ready whenever and wherever they need it.”

Atom declares it will be “leading the way” in delivering the “ultimate easy and convenient banking experience”. Biometric security and in-app account opening are just some of the features being developed to deliver a branch-free, paper-free and stress-free bank.

Here is another paradigm challenging article about ‘business models’ and value creation. This is well worth the read and includes a 45 min video.
Google's obsession with "failure"
Amazon is a failure
That's right. If you followed the binary kindergarten logic of some Apple sycophants around the blogs and around the Verge forums, Amazon, one of the most successful online retail store on the planet, is a failure because it doesn't make a profit.

Wait! Isn't a successful business that barely breaks even and makes losses quarter after quarter an oxymoron? How do we define success? How do we quantify success? What really is success?

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, turned the definition, quantification and concept of business success on its head. And Wall Street hates him for it. You see, Amazon's business model is deliberately designed to break even, or sometimes to make a loss. Amazon has figured out a business model that can operate at a loss for decades without going out of business.

Jeff realized if you have a consistent and growing revenue stream and an increasing asset valuation, you can operate a business in perpetuity at break even or even at a loss. So he modelled his business to operate at break even and to weather losses almost indefinitely.

Here is something relevant for the future of science - all scientific publication and even work in progress - contributing to the knowledge commons and engaging in new forms of public peer review.
Journal requires peer-reviewed Wikipedia entry to publish
A scientific journal that specializes in RNA molecules is requiring any …
It's easy to find the latest in scientific publications by going to a search engine, such as PubMed, that specializes in the relevant literature. But, if you're looking for something else—unpublished data, relevant software, a comprehensive database—you're likely to turn to a general search engine. These, more often than not, will return a Wikipedia page within the top 10 hits. In increasing numbers, scientists are reasoning that, if people are going to look at the Wikipedia page anyway, the scientific community should probably ensure that the information there is good. In the latest manifestation of this trend, the journal RNA Biology is requiring that authors of a specific type of paper submit a Wikipedia entry for peer review, as well.

This isn't the first effort involved in trying to improve the quality and breadth of biological information available through Wikipedia, but it appears to be the first time that entries in the online encyclopedia are being made a precondition of the research career's be-all and end-all: peer-reviewed publications….

The goal behind the effort is to link publications with public contributions. RNA Biology is creating a new class of publications that focus on a thorough description of a family of RNA molecules, where family is defined by common sequence and function. The publication will result in an update of the RFAM database, and the authors will be required to provide a Wikipedia entry with their paper. That entry will be peer reviewed along with the manuscript, which will ideally help ensure that people looking for a quick overview of the RNA family will have easy access to decent information….

The virtual experiences of the next decade are approaching the science fiction of the 90s. This is a very interesting article about a Kickstarter project.
3D holograms for the home and office
When all we can see is 2D images in a flat (or slightly curved) screen, can we truly say mobile technology puts the world in our hands?  

Technology continues to improve and I say it’s time for the true next-generation devices to hit the store shelves. VR and Augmented reality are the first things that come to mind, but there is another type of display we haven’t been paying too much attention to, other than in movies – holograms.
What is the Holus?
We usually think of holographic projections as some kind of science fiction element, or something we won’t see going mainstream for a long time. The truth is this can go mainstream very soon, and one of the hottest Kickstarter projects around aims to accomplish just that. Enter Holus, the first holographic display planning to reach your homes and offices. No longer do you have to be some Tony Stark-level millionaire to enjoy holographic content!

This intricate contraption can pretty much take content from a computer, tablet or smartphone and turn it into a 3D experience. Its looks are quite odd, but you can bet its functionality will definitely drop your jaw. This thing literally has endless applications. You can do so much with it!
Here’s the link to the Kickstarter site - I think this is a must view - think of the next decade 2025.

Here’s an update on the advance of Social Physics and the sociometric badge which has been ‘rebranded’ as ‘Humanize’.
Smart employee badge helps businesses improve staff efficiency
Humanyze is a smart employee badge that uses wearable sensors and data to help businesses improve the productivity of their staff.
Humanyze is a tracking tool in the form a smart employee badge which combines a microphone, accelerometer and other sensors. It collects massive amounts of behavioral data from employees, which businesses can use to analyze and improve the productivity of their workforce.

Each badge is worn by an individual employee and collects over 40 pieces of data daily — including how much they moved around, the tone of their voice and if they leaned in when speaking to co-workers. This data is uploaded to the cloud, where it can be fed into other business metrics via a dashboard, enabling companies to gain insight into how behaviors affect overall company performance. The company can then begin to make adjustments to its employee relations and see how effective their changes are through A/B testing.

The startup behind the big data wearable — Humanyze — was launched from the MIT Media Lab. They have already begun a partnership with Bank of America, testing out the system on some of their 10,000 employees, with interesting results. For example, having noticed that employees interact most with each other during the overlap of their lunch breaks, the company experimented with giving one group of employees group lunch while keeping another on the staggered schedule. They were able to ascertain that group lunch had an overwhelmingly positive effect on the employee’s performance: it reduced stress — which is measured by tone of voice — by 19 percent and it significantly increased staff efficiency — call completion time rose by 23 percent.

All data is privacy protected and participating companies are not able to access individual’s data. Furthermore, Humanyze insist on an opt-in agreement, meaning businesses cannot use the system without their staff signing up. What other businesses could make use of big data in this way?
Here is the link to Humanize

Since we are on the topic of employees - here some interesting research on working mothers.
Working moms have more successful daughters and more caring sons, Harvard Business School study says
The guilt many working mothers confess to may be real, but it’s looking less and less warranted.

According to a working paper (pdf) published June 19 by the Harvard Business School, daughters of working mothers are more likely to be employed, hold supervisory positions, and earn more money than the daughters of women who don’t work outside the home. The researchers also found a statistically significant effect on the sons of working women, who are likely to spend more time caring for family members and doing household chores than are the sons of stay-at-home mothers.

Analyzing data from two dozen countries, the researchers concluded that the daughters of employed mothers are 4.5% more likely to be employed themselves than are the daughters of stay-at-home mothers. While this number may seem small, it is statistically significant at the 99% level, meaning there is less than a 1% chance that such a result is due to chance.

Even more surprising, says Kathleen McGinn, a professor at Harvard Business School and the lead author of the study, is the effect that working mothers have on their daughters’ chances of being a supervisor at work. “We did expect that it would effect employment but we didn’t expect that it would effect supervisory responsibility,” she tells Quartz.
The link to the research report is here

Maybe the arrival of ubiquitous availability for wi-fi - not dependent on the current batch of less than innovative Cable-Tel Companies may be sooner than we think. This is a possibility that municipal governments could provide. Also enabling this sort of system would help self-driving cars and so much more as well.
GOOGLE’S BIG BET on technology for cities is finally starting to make sense.
Earlier this month, when Larry Page announced that Google was launching a new startup called Sidewalk Labs to develop and incubate technology for cities, many wondered what the company wanted with an industry that is so much less sexy than any of its other so-called “moonshot” projects, like developing the self-driving car or, you know, curing death.

Now, that fuzzy logic is coming into focus. Today, Sidewalk Labs announced it would be leading the acquisition of two companies behind New York City’s LinkNYC initiative, an ongoing plan to convert old pay phones into free public Wi-Fi hubs. Through the acquisition, Sidewalk Labs is merging the two companies—Control Group, which provides the interface for the new hubs, and Titan, which is overseeing the advertising that will pay for the project. The new venture, aptly named Intersection, will seek to bring free public Wi-Fi to cities around the world using different pieces of urban infrastructure, from pay phones to bus stops.

“The vision really is to make cities connected places where you can walk down any street and have access to free ultra high speed Wi-Fi,” says Dan Doctoroff, the former CEO of Bloomberg and one-time deputy mayor of New York City, who heads up Sidewalk Labs. “The possibilities from there are just endless.”

Now that we are in the world of virtual experience - here’s is a very interesting development related to the mix of traditional manufactured excitement (e.g. amusement park rides) and virtual inducement of experience. The future of this sort of engagement technology may enable a deeper form of social experience in all types of performance-spectator forms of entertainment, games and even training for the ‘real’ world of work.
Out of their minds: Nottingham research used in thrilling ride that adapts to riders' brain activity
Thrill seekers brave enough to test drive a new mixed-reality ride will only have themselves to blame if they find it a little too wild for their taste.

For the new attraction uses research from The University of Nottingham to adapt the experience to the rider’s own brain activity.

The new ride — Neurosis — has been developed by technology-inspired performance artist Professor Brendan Walker, a principal research fellow in the University’s School of Computer Science, dubbed the ‘world’s only Thrill Engineer’.

It draws on research being conducted by Professor Walker and academics at the University’s Horizon Digital Economy Research institute which is developing novel ways of using biosensors to capture and present data from the human body.

This activity generates an audio-visual virtual world where pathways emerge, tumbling, twisting and twirling the rider through a psychedelic landscape. The rider’s real-time neurological responses to music, motion and visible wonders activate fairground lighting.
The neuro-data constantly transforms the futuristic ride artwork while music pumps and the simulator mechanism undulates and sways.

For anyone interested in being able to search for information on what video games are available and a description of what the games is this is an interesting development.
UC Santa Cruz team introduces new web-based tools for finding videogames
The extraordinary proliferation of videogames over the past decade has created a "discoverability" problem for game enthusiasts and others, but help is now just a click away thanks to two new web-based tools developed at the UC Santa Cruz Center for Games and Playable Media. UCSC researchers will introduce the new tools in a talk and a demonstration session at the 2015 Foundations of Digital Games conference in Pacific Grove, California, on June 24.

GameNet and GameSage were designed not only for game players looking to find new games suited to their individual tastes, but also for game designers, teachers, and scholars, said Noah Wardrip-Fruin, a professor of computational media at UC Santa Cruz. GameNet is an explorable network that allows users to enter the name of a game and get an interactive list of closely related games. GameSage is integrated with GameNet and allows users to describe a hypothetical game (or a game they can't remember the name of) and find the existing games that are closest to the description.
"If you're a game designer with an idea for a new game, you'd like to know what else is out there that's similar. There haven't been any good tools for doing that," Wardrip-Fruin said.
Here is the link to The Center for Games and Playable Media

This is fascinating on a number of counts - advances in robotics, swarm behavior, artificial intelligence and most importantly Social Learning. There are two short videos.
Evolving robot swarm behaviour suggests forgetting may be important to cultural evolution
This article describes research in which embodied imitation and behavioral adaptation are investigated in collective robotics. We model social learning in artificial agents with real robots. The robots are able to observe and learn each others’ movement patterns using their on-board sensors only, so that imitation is embodied. We show that the variations that arise from embodiment allow certain behaviors that are better adapted to the process of imitation to emerge and evolve during multiple cycles of imitation. As these behaviors are more robust to uncertainties in the real robots’ sensors and actuators, they can be learned by other members of the collective with higher fidelity. Three different types of learned-behavior memory have been experimentally tested to investigate the effect of memory capacity on the evolution of movement patterns, and results show that as the movement patterns evolve through multiple cycles of imitation, selection, and variation, the robots are able to, in a sense, agree on the structure of the behaviors that are imitated.

The fidelity of embodied imitation for robots, just as for animals, is a complex function of four factors: (1) the behaviours being learned, (2) the robots’ sensorium and morphology, (3) environmental noise and (4) the inferential learning algorithm.

Here’s an important breakthrough pushing the edge of computational paradigms.
D-Wave Systems Breaks the 1000 Qubit Quantum Computing Barrier
New Milestone Will Enable System to Address Larger and More Complex Problems
D-Wave Systems Inc., the world's first quantum computing company, today announced that it has broken the 1000 qubit barrier, developing a processor about double the size of D-Wave’s previous generation and far exceeding the number of qubits ever developed by D-Wave or any other quantum effort.  This is a major technological and scientific achievement that will allow significantly more complex computational problems to be solved than was possible on any previous quantum computer.

D-Wave’s quantum computer runs a quantum annealing algorithm to find the lowest points, corresponding to optimal or near optimal solutions, in a virtual “energy landscape.” Every additional qubit doubles the search space of the processor. At 1000 qubits, the new processor considers 21000 possibilities simultaneously, a search space which dwarfs the 2512 possibilities available to the 512-qubit D-Wave Two. ‪In fact, the new search space contains far more possibilities than there are ‪particles in the observable universe.

“For the high-performance computing industry, the promise of quantum computing is very exciting. It offers the potential to solve important problems that either can’t be solved today or would take an unreasonable amount of time to solve,” said Earl Joseph, IDC program vice president for HPC. “D-Wave is at the forefront of this space today with customers like NASA and Google, and this latest advancement will contribute significantly to the evolution of the Quantum Computing industry.”

Here’s an amazing new robot SAM - this is a must view 5 min video.
Introduction to Construction Robotics and the bricklaying robot SAM
Scott Peters, Co-Founder of Construction Robotics provides an introduction to the bricklaying robot SAM (Semi-Automated Mason). SAM works side-by-side a mason for onsite masonry construction.

While robots continue to progress and become integrated as in our economy - this reports indicates that renewable energy can help provide work for people - at least for awhile.
Clean energy 'creates more jobs than fossil fuels', report claims
Research paper claims renewable energies and energy efficiency can maintain economic growth and provide a sufficient supply of energy
More job opportunities can be created through investment in clean energies than through fossil fuels, according to a new report.

Research by The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) outlines how a commitment of 1.5 per cent of GDP per year to renewable energy and energy efficiency investment will deliver economic growth, a sufficient supply of energy resources and a new source of job opportunities.

Yvo de Boer, director-general of GGGI and former head of the UN's climate change secretariat, stated that the report helps in countering claims that cutting greenhouse gases is incompatible with economic growth.

"Significant progress has already been made in overcoming the hitherto conventional wisdom that taking steps to cut GHGs was incompatible with economic growth," he said. "This report moves the debate another positive step forward by showing that employment and development result from sustainable, green growth."

The international organisations explored the impacts of the large-scale clean energy plans in five countries including emerging economic powers Brazil and South Africa where, for every $1m invested in clean energy, 16.2 and 33.1 jobs would be created respectively.

Part of the reason it’s impossible to predict how fast solar energy will move is that at this point the technology is cost effective and now it is the nature of intentional investment to accelerate implementation. In the next few years investments of this magnitude in renewable energy technology will likely seem negligible. One more reason to invest in Solar? Water. With the cheap energy available from solar - powering desalination plants on a coast or even just floating offshore - could provide abundant water to keep pipelines and tankers busy as we transition from oil.
Japan to Invest $20 Billion in Indian Solar Power
India’s plans to massively scale up solar power generation have got a big boost with a planned $20 billion investment by Japan’s SoftBank.

With two times the sunshine and half the cost of construction of a solar park compared to Japan, SoftBank Corporation head Masayoshi Son said India could become a world leader in solar energy.

That confidence has prompted the Japanese billionaire to make an ambitious entry in India’s solar sector through a joint venture with India’s Bharti Enterprises and Taiwan's Foxconn. The group effort was announced earlier this week.

“We will make 20 gigawatts as a minimum commitment to make investment into the solar in India. That is in economic terms roughly $20 billion of investment,” said Son.
With nearly a quarter of the population still without an electricity connection and even big cities routinely grappling with power outages, India urgently needs to scale up power generation. Equally pressing is the need to switch to cleaner energy to reduce high pollution levels from coal-based power plants.

And here is a short very clear article on the relationship between changes in technological frameworks and types of work. A must view - if only for the simplicity of the graphs.
How Machines Destroy (And Create!) Jobs, In 4 Graphs
For hundreds of years, people have been talking about machines taking jobs from people. Less often discussed: machines creating new jobs.

In the first part of the 20th century, agricultural technology — the tractor, chemical fertilizers — meant a single farmer could suddenly grow much more food. So we didn't need as many farmers. Technology destroyed a huge number of farming jobs.

But that technology also made food cheaper, so people had more money to spend on other things, like TVs and radios and newly invented appliances. Factory jobs boomed. Other sectors grew as well; the mid-century economy had lots of mid-skill white-collar jobs like secretary and bookkeeper.

The next wave of major technological change came in the latter part of the 20th century. Robots in factories and computers in offices automated away many of the jobs that earlier technologies had created in the earlier part of the century. You can see the rise and fall of these sectors in the graph below.

Another article on the topic of ways governments keep private sector legacy workers secure in their jobs. This is something anyone working in the government (and maybe any very large traditional corporation) should be able to identify with. The question for Canada - is how are all those involved in the security community able to even engage in cyber-security - because the U.S. Navy isn’t the only government organization paying exorbitant fees to maintain and/or customize legacy systems.
The US Navy's warfare systems command just paid millions to stay on Windows XP
Windows XP and other obsolete systems remain critical to the Navy's operations
The U.S. Navy is paying Microsoft millions of dollars to keep up to 100,000 computers afloat because it has yet to transition away from Windows XP.

The Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, which runs the Navy’s communications and information networks, signed a US$9.1 million contract earlier this month for continued access to security patches for Windows XP, Office 2003, Exchange 2003 and Windows Server 2003.

The entire contract could be worth up to $30.8 million and extend into 2017.
The first three of those products have been deemed obsolete by Microsoft, and Windows Server 2003 will reach its end of life on July 14. As a result, Microsoft has stopped issuing free security updates but will continue to do so on a paid basis for customers like the Navy that are still using those products.

The Navy began a transition away from XP in 2013, but as of May this year it still had approximately 100,000 workstations running XP or the other software.

One of my favorite topics is the society that is a single human. From the people that fill the drama in our minds to the ecology of our microbiome - and the growing evidence that the events in the mind and body are more related than we have currently imagined. This is a great article summarizing the current state of research.
Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?
The rich array of microbiota in our intestines can tell us more than you might think.
...The digestive tube of a monkey, like that of all vertebrates, contains vast quantities of what biologists call gut microbiota. The genetic material of these trillions of microbes, as well as others living elsewhere in and on the body, is collectively known as the microbiome. Taken together, these bacteria can weigh as much as six pounds, and they make up a sort of organ whose functions have only begun to reveal themselves to science. Lyte has spent his career trying to prove that gut microbes communicate with the nervous system using some of the same neurochemicals that relay messages in the brain.

Inside a closet-size room at his lab that afternoon, Lyte hunched over to inspect the vials, whose samples had been spun down in a centrifuge to a radiant, golden broth. Lyte, 60, spoke fast and emphatically. ‘‘You wouldn’t believe what we’re extracting out of poop,’’ he told me. ‘‘We found that the guys here in the gut make neurochemicals. We didn’t know that. Now, if they make this stuff here, does it have an influence there? Guess what? We make the same stuff. Maybe all this communication has an influence on our behavior.’’

Since 2007, when scientists announced plans for a Human Microbiome Project to catalog the micro-organisms living in our body, the profound appreciation for the influence of such organisms has grown rapidly with each passing year. Bacteria in the gut produce vitamins and break down our food; their presence or absence has been linked to obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and the toxic side effects of prescription drugs. Biologists now believe that much of what makes us human depends on microbial activity. The two million unique bacterial genes found in each human microbiome can make the 23,000 genes in our cells seem paltry, almost negligible, by comparison. ‘‘It has enormous implications for the sense of self,’’ Tom Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told me. ‘‘We are, at least from the standpoint of DNA, more microbial than human. That’s a phenomenal insight and one that we have to take seriously when we think about human development.’’

This is an important advance although it may seem modest in comparison to domesticating bacteria.
First Aid Advance for Serious Trauma
Researchers are reporting a new sprayable foam that can stop major internal or external bleeding without needing to compress the wound, a first-aid advance desperately needed by first responders and trauma surgeons.

Whether a person suffers a major injury in an auto accident or on the battlefield, one of the leading causes of death is blood loss. The National Trauma Institute says hemorrhage leads to 35 percent of all deaths that occur before an injured patient gets to a hospital. It is responsible for 40 percent of all trauma-related deaths in the first 24 hours.

Now bioengineers and scientists at the University of Maryland, College Park and Massachusetts General Hospital say they have created a polymer-based foam that causes blood cells to clump together.

The active ingredient in the foam is a biopolymer called hydrophobically modified chitosan, which is derived from the shells of shrimp and other crustaceans. It works by turning blood into a “self-supporting gel.” Its mode of action is different from the body’s natural clotting factors, so it can be used even on a patient who has received blood-thinning drugs.

Since it doesn’t require compression to work, it could potentially be used on major injuries to the trunk of the body–like a gunshot wound to the abdomen–which are difficult to stop from bleeding. It could also be used in emergency surgical situations where major internal bleeding is occurring. In tests on pigs, the foam reduced blood loss from a liver injury without compression by 90 percent compared to control animals. It continued to work for an hour.

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