Thursday, August 27, 2015

Friday Thinking 28 August 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. 
So happy to be back to the Digital World.

In the 21st Century curiosity will SKILL the cat.

We should think about the blockchain as another class of thing like the Internet - a comprehensive information technology with tiered technical levels and multiple classes of applications for any form of asset registry, inventory, and exchange, including every area of finance, economics, and money; hard assets (physical property, homes, cars)’ and intangible assets (votes, ideas, reputation, intention, health data, information, etc.). But the blockchain concept is even more; it is a new organizing paradigm for the discovery, valuation, and transfer of all quanta (discrete units) of anything, and potentially for the coordination of all human activity at a much larger scale than has been possible before.
Melanie Swan - Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy - O’Reilly Books

Develop hypotheses about what's going on in domains you care about and test them against data and information. As Yogi Berra famously probably never said: “If you don't know where you're going you'll end up somewhere else.” Good intelligence is not about monitoring a stream of information. It may begin there but without a sophisticated framework for interpreting the information and placing it in proper context, you will simply be reacting to events rather than understanding them. Good intelligence units create analytic landscapes of the issues they cover, test them frequently and modify when needed—which should be often. If your ideas about economic conditions in China haven't changed in the last year, you are not paying attention.

...looking in only one direction is a significant occupational hazard for intelligence professionals. We too often focus on the terrible and ignore opportunity. And we too often hastily label a development as good or bad when in fact the most appropriate posture is ambivalence—we just don't know. So as companies build out intelligence units, they need to be mindful of the most ironic consequence of the intelligence profession—an inappropriate air of certainty. Although many business leaders anticipate that their intelligence unit will allow for more certainty in decision-making, I think that expectation is naive. At its best, intelligence units will create conditions for more fluid conversations, more nuanced decisions, and more resilient organizations capable of navigating our exponential future.
CARMEN MEDINA - Managing Information & Risk in the Digital Age

This is a great annual report - here’s this year’s.
The Millennium Project's newly-released "2015-16 State of the Future"
Confirms that the World is Winning More than Losing, but Where it is Losing is Very Serious
The "2015-16 State of the Future" just released by The Millennium Project gives trends on 28 indicators of progress and regress; new insights into 15 Global Challenges; impacts of artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, nanotechnology and other advanced technologies on employment over the next 35 years; and how economic change is inevitable by 2050. “This ‘World Report Card’ may have more data, information, intelligence, and wisdom about the future of the world than has ever been assembled in one report,” says Jerome Glenn, CEO of The Millennium Project and lead author of the report. “It should be read in pieces and kept on your desk as a reference.” The 14-page executive summary is freely available in several languages.

This is the 18th global assessment of the foreseeable future. It distills much of the leading research from UN organizations, national governments, think tanks, and insights from thought leaders around the world. This 300-page report includes over 50 charts and graphs. “It is what the educated world citizen should know,” says Elizabeth Florescu, Director of Research for The Millennium Project and co-author of the report. Each "State of the Future" since 1997 builds on the last one, creating an accumulative and unique assessment of the future of the world.
Some of the key findings include:

  • The concept of work will change over the next generation or two; but global thought leaders are divided about the best policies to make a smooth transition.
  • By 2050, new systems for food, water, energy, education, health, economics, and global governance will be needed to prevent massive and complex human and environmental disasters.
  • Environmental security should be the focus of joint goals to build strategic trust between the US and China.
  • The 2015 State of the Future Index shows slow but steady improvement in general human welfare over the past 20 years and next 10 years—but at the expense of the environment and with worsening intrastate violence, terrorism, corruption, organized crime, and economic inequality.
  • The future can be much better than most pessimists understand, but it could also be far worse than most optimists are willing to explore.
  • Humanity has the resources to address its global challenges, but it is not clear that an integrated set of global and local strategies will be implemented together timely enough and on the scale necessary to build a better future.

This is a fascinating article about how to see our future selves and thus take more seriously our need to prepare for a future. This short article is a must read - especially for those involved in education.
4 Ways to Meet Your Future Self
Why is it difficult to prepare for the future?
Social psychologists recently discovered one reason: we conceive our future selves as strangers — as different people altogether.

Research by two university educators — Hal Hershfield, an assistant professor of marketing at UCLA Anderson School of Management, and health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, a lecturer at Stanford and author of The Willpower Instinct — offers new insight into this conundrum.

In experiments with undergraduates, Hershfield studied how considerations of the future affect our emotional experience and decision-making. In one line of research, he showed a select group of participants a digitally aged image of themselves. The remaining participants, however, did not see such an image. Among Hershfield’s findings: members of the select group — those who were able to see themselves as they aged — allocated twice as much to their retirement accounts as the others.

Hershfield asserts that “looking ahead in time and feeling a sense of connection to one’s future self can impact long-term financial decision-making, converting a consumer into a saver.” People who possess this continuity with their future self also accumulate more assets than others. They own their homes, have larger bank accounts and so forth.

Not only is this a good article - but it illustrates the trajectory of scientific publication in the 21st century by containing a lovely interactive graph (because the data is embedded with the document). A Must read. In the digital environment there is no requisite lack of publication space - so -perhaps science needs to laud all research results - the failures and successes - because learning may be accelerated just as much by failure as by success.
Science Isn’t Broken
It’s just a hell of a lot harder than we give it credit for.
If you follow the headlines, your confidence in science may have taken a hit lately.
Peer review? More like self-review. An investigation in November uncovered a scam in which researchers were rubber-stamping their own work, circumventing peer review at five high-profile publishers.

Scientific journals? Not exactly a badge of legitimacy, given that the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology recently accepted for publication a paper titled “Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List,” whose text was nothing more than those seven words, repeated over and over for 10 pages. Two other journals allowed an engineer posing as Maggie Simpson and Edna Krabappel to publish a paper, “Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations.”

Revolutionary findings? Possibly fabricated. In May, a couple of University of California, Berkeley, grad students discovered irregularities in Michael LaCour’s influential paper suggesting that an in-person conversation with a gay person could change how people felt about same-sex marriage. The journal Science retracted the paper shortly after, when LaCour’s co-author could find no record of the data.

Taken together, headlines like these might suggest that science is a shady enterprise that spits out a bunch of dressed-up nonsense. But I’ve spent months investigating the problems hounding science, and I’ve learned that the headline-grabbing cases of misconduct and fraud are mere distractions. The state of our science is strong, but it’s plagued by a universal problem: Science is hard — really fucking hard.

If we’re going to rely on science as a means for reaching the truth — and it’s still the best tool we have — it’s important that we understand and respect just how difficult it is to get a rigorous result. I could pontificate about all the reasons why science is arduous, but instead I’m going to let you experience one of them for yourself. Welcome to the wild world of p-hacking.

This is a must view RSA video from the co-author of ‘The Atlas of Economic Complexity’. He explains the nature of increasing complexity and the analytical framework for understanding the potential trajectories of a nation’s economic growth is very applicable to the capacity to transform an organization constrained by its existing technological/occupational framework.
César visits the RSA to present a new view of the relationship between individual and collective knowledge, linking information theory, economics and biology to explain the deep evolution of social and economic systems.

In a radical rethink of what an economy is, one of WIRED magazine’s 50 People Who Could Change the World, César Hidalgo argues that it is the measure of a nation’s cultural complexity – the nexus of people, ideas and invention - rather than its GDP or per-capita income, that explains the success or failure of its economic performance. To understand the growth of economies, Hidalgo argues, we first need to understand the growth of order itself.

And while we’re speaking of information - this is an interesting article by a former career professional from the CIA.
Managing Information & Risk in the Digital Age
It’s a cliché that we live in a world of exponential change. Having spent 32 years at the CIA, from 1978 until 2010, I thought I’d seen plenty of change already--the end of the Cold War, the end of apartheid in South Africa, the rise of China as a communist/capitalist hybrid economic power, and, of course, September 11.

But arguably even more has happened in the five years since I retired:
  • Unparalleled social churn, the most recent example being the validation in the US and Ireland of same-sex marriage
  • The metastasis of extreme, perhaps even nihilistic groups claiming allegiance to Islam but--more to the point--acting upon their hatred of the West and of existing governments in the Middle East.
  • The return of state conflict in Europe as Russia and the Ukraine flirt with war.
  • The emergence of the smart phone as the planet's most powerful tool for development and disruption.
  • The fraying of the great European experiment—the EU.
  • The cyber-threat pandemic.

Even the least judgmental among us has to admit that government institutions often fail to anticipate, let alone keep up with such exponential changes. If government, with resources devoted to intelligence and research, falters in navigating today's world, how are businesses expected to cope? Leaders of corporations and NGOs can't afford to waste resources and perhaps even put lives at risk because of poorly-conceived decisions.

Many are now forming threat intelligence and security units in hopes of gaining some decision advantage. They often look to former intelligence professionals for advice and expertise, but corporations and NGOs need to be mindful of the pitfalls of intelligence. Intelligence professionals do some things right, but we also make errors of judgment, bias, and execution. Here's my guide to what businesses and NGOs should replicate and avoid as they grow their capacity to make better sense of the world.

And on the topic of risk, here’s is a nice summary of the imminent disruption looming on the horizon of the Insurance Industry - this is well worth the read.
Disrupting insurance
For most of 2015 I have been banging on about disrupting insurance (or Instech, if you like that kind of jargon). I’d like to use this blog post to talk about why I find it exciting.
1. Insurance is an enormous market

Life insurance premiums are $2.3 trillion globally. Non-life insurance premiums are $1.4 trillion globally. (both numbers are from 2012, from Mckinsey report linked to below). I don’t get to write the word trillion often when looking at market sizes.

Importantly for a European VC, Europe is a disproportionately large chunk of this, coming in at $700B of life and $400B of non-life . And London, as the place insurance was invested, remains its biggest global hub

2. Incumbents face a number of challenges
The insurance industry in Europe and the US is mostly composed today of large traditional insurers who have been operating for decades or centuries. They have struggled to adapt to a digital age, as shown by the graph from BCG below. Similarly to banks, their backend software and underwriting is tied into legacy software from previous decades, with major system integration challenges.

Insurers also have very little contact with their customers, contributing to low brand loyalty and retention….

Here is an interesting video from Sweden.
The dilemma of human enhancement
Humans have always had a desire to make themselves better, faster, stronger and smarter. Today we can. With implants, nanotechnology, artificial body parts and smart drugs we can enhance human physiology beyond our current limitations. But should we really pursue this? And can we do it responsibly? Upcoming Crosstalks on Human Enhancement discusses the dangers and pitfalls of human enhancement.

Given all the speculation of our domestication of DNA enabling our evolution into the trans-human era -here’s an answer I’m sure many people have been asking.
Why we’re smarter than chickens
Researchers at U of T’s Donnelly Centre uncover protein part that controls neuron development
Toronto researchers have discovered that a single molecular event in our cells could hold the key to how we evolved to become the smartest animal on the planet.

Benjamin Blencowe, a professor in the University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre and Banbury Chair in Medical Research, and his team have uncovered how a small change in a protein called PTBP1 can spur the creation of neurons – cells that make the brain – that could have fuelled the evolution of mammalian brains to become the largest and most complex among vertebrates.

The study is published in the August 20 issue of Science

Talking about biological enhancement and the home genetics kit - here’s something that is only the tip of the looming iceberg.
The advent of enzyme complex CRISPR/Cas9 has ushered in a new age of genetic manipulation—it could help us cure diseases or resuscitate extinct species. One of CRISPR’s big advantages is that it’s much easier to use than its predecessors. So easy, in fact, that amateur biohackers are using it in their experiments, according to a report from Nature News.

It’s natural to be nervous about this. CRISPR is a powerful tool that scientists don’t fully understand, and it can have unintended consequences even when used cautiously. Ever since April, when a team of Chinese researchers published their findings after using CRISPR to change the genes of human embryos, the discussion has reached a fever pitch. Experts have been discussing the issue of consent (embryos can’t consent to having their genes manipulated, and the effects could be passed down for generations), the consequences of introducing an unintended change, and the effects on the ecosystem should a genetically manipulated animal break free from the lab.

But a lot of these concerns are isolated to some of the most advanced labs in the world. Yes, CRISPR is easy to use, but it’s not that easy to get the exact results you want, even for the experts. It’s highly unlikely that an amateur biohacker with little scientific knowledge could use CRISPR to create an unstoppable virus or change the human genome. It’s just too difficult.

Plus, biohackers don’t seem to be into that in the first place. The biohackers highlighted in the Nature News piece are more interested in engineering yeast to make unique beer or vegan cheese, or changing the color of a flower. On one message board, a biohacker with the alias plambe planned to use CRISPR to modify stress hormone receptors in plants in order to “deliver shit wherever I want when I want in the nucleus.”

Biohackers working with CRISPR still need to be careful—the U.S. Bioterrorism Protection Team has been casually monitoring biohackers over the past few years, the Nature News piece notes, likely to make sure they’re not making any biological weapons—but it’s unlikely any of them will be able to realize experts’ worst fears about CRISPR’s consequences. Not that they’d want to, anyway.

Well we maybe smarter than chickens but here’s an article that shows that AI is getting close to a ‘good enough’ Turing Test.
For Sympathetic Ear, More Chinese Turn to Smartphone Program
She is known as Xiaoice, and millions of young Chinese pick up their smartphones every day to exchange messages with her, drawn to her knowing sense of humor and listening skills. People often turn to her when they have a broken heart, have lost a job or have been feeling down. They often tell her, “I love you.”

“When I am in a bad mood, I will chat with her,” said Gao Yixin, a 24-year-old who works in the oil industry in Shandong Province. “Xiaoice is very intelligent.”

Xiaoice (pronounced Shao-ice) can chat with so many people for hours on end because she is not real. She is a chatbot, a program introduced last year by Microsoft that has become something of a hit in China. It is also making the 2013 film “Her,” in which the actor Joaquin Phoenix plays a character who falls in love with a computer operating system, seem less like science fiction.

“It caused much more excitement than we anticipated,” said Yao Baogang, the manager of the Microsoft program in Beijing.

Xiaoice, whose name translates roughly to “Little Bing,” after the Microsoft search engine, is a striking example of the advancements in artificial-intelligence software that mimics the human brain.

Creating conditions for empathy, enabling greater awareness of our physiological, psychological and emotional states and behavior is looming on the horizon - here’s a short article exploring the emotional dimensions of the quantified self.
Tapping Into The Emotional Internet
Wearables currently decipher physiological biometrics: heart rate, pulse, caloric intake. But in the coming years, we’ll see emotion-sensing wearable technology that clues us into specific human emotions.

When this data is shared across networks, we’ll enter the dawn of the “Emotional Internet.”
This is not a purely theoretical concept. Already, there are efforts to measure and quantify human emotion in a machine-readable way. Affectiva, an emotion-measurement technology firm, has collected more than a billion frames of spontaneous facial expressions, using the data to develop technology that can detect several types of emotions.

One of the initiatives of Microsoft Research’s Visualization and Interaction for Business and Entertainment (VIBE) division, meanwhile, is to explore human-computer interaction. It has designed a prototype scarf that employs sensors to discern the wearer’s mood and, via Bluetooth, the moods of others.

Another company, Spire, manufactures a small stone-shaped sensor that can be clipped to a bra strap or belt and is able to pick up on your stress levels.

Much of this research and development is part of the emerging field of affective computing, which examines ways to create sensors and computers that can detect and respond to human emotions.

By studying speech patterns, facial expressions, body gestures and physiological reactions to specific stimuli, researchers hope to amass a database of emotions they can train computers to recognize and interact with.

One can’t think about AI without also thinking about robotics. Here’s a nice article about what’s being worked on now. There is one 2 min video and a longer 1 hr video of the entire presentation. Some of the diagrams include vision of 3D printed parts.
What Boston Dynamics Is Working on Next
It’s almost impossible to get information out of Boston Dynamics (especially after this happened). Infuriatingly (for us), the way the company does PR is to just upload awesome videos on YouTube, sit back, and let millions of people be amazed by their newest robotic innovation while we desperately try to get a post up that says something more relevant than “go watch this video right now.” We even showed up at Boston Dynamics ourselves once, and mostly all that we learned was that Marc Raibert is an enigmatic guy on a pogo stick.

Raibert, and other people from Boston Dynamics, do speak at conferences sometimes, but usually they don’t talk much about future projects, and they almost always ask that anything new (or any outtakes that they might show, which are unfailingly hilarious) isn’t recorded.

Earlier this month, at the FAB 11 Conference at MIT, Raibert gave a 7-minute presentation as part of a panel on “Making Robots,” which also included Sangbae Kim, Russ Tedrake, Radhika Nagpal, Mick Mountz, and Gil Pratt. Raibert’s presentation featured some video that we’d never seen before as well as tantalizing hints of what Boston Dynamics has been working on.

And what about the future of work? Here’s short article on some new forms of employment.
Top 10 jobs that don’t exist yet, but will in the future
Technology is moving very quickly. The landscape of modern business is set to change dramatically in the next few decades. According to top-rated futurist speaker Thomas Frey, by 2030 a predicted 2 billion jobs will disappear, but plenty of new ones will replace them. There’s work, but not as we know it…

1. Quantified self-assessment auditor
2. Big-data analyser
3. Dimensionalist
4. Avatar relationship manager
5. Crypto-currency regulator
6. Corporate-sharing manager
7. Computer-personality designer
8. Augmented-reality architect
9. Dismantler
10. Gamification designer

Here’s a great article on recent progress in the domain of 3D printing.
'Multifab' 3D-prints a record 10 materials at once, no assembly required (w/ Video)
3D printing is great, assuming that all you need to do is print one material for one purpose, and that you're okay with it taking a few tries. But the technology is still far behind where it could be in reliably producing a variety of useful objects, with no assembly required, at a cost that doesn't make you want to poke your eyes out with a 3D-printed fork.

In recent years companies have been working to tackle some of these challenges with "multi-material" 3D printers that can fabricate many different functional items. Such printers, however, have traditionally been limited to three materials at a time, cost as much as $250,000 each, and still require a fair amount of human intervention.

But this week researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) say that they've found a way to make a better, cheaper, more user-friendly printer. In a paper accepted at the SIGGRAPH computer-graphics conference, a CSAIL team presented a 3D printer that can print an unprecedented 10 different materials at once by using 3D-scanning techniques that save the user time, energy and money.

Delivering resolution at the level of 40 microns, or less than half the width of a human hair, the "MultiFab" system is the first 3D printer to use 3D-scanning techniques from machine-vision, which offers two key advantages over traditional 3D printing.

First, MultiFab can self-calibrate and self-correct, freeing users from having to do the fine-tuning themselves. For each layer of the design, the system's feedback loop 3D-scans and detects errors and then generates so-called "correction masks." This approach allows the use of inexpensive hardware while ensuring print accuracy.

Secondly, MultiFab gives users the ability to embed complex components like circuits and sensors directly onto the body of an object, meaning that it can produce a finished product, moving parts and all, in one fell swoop.

This is a 11 min video about using fungus to grow new sorts of material and goods including 3D printed products.
Fungus: The Plastic of the Future
In this episode of Upgrade, Motherboard dives head first into the R+D world surrounding the development of fungi as a viable replacement for plastic, and the people who hope it can lead to a better and more sustainable future.

From domesticating DNA to simulating nanobot fish - this anticipates the emerging world of nano-sensors and bots in the Internet-of-Things.
3D-printing microscopic fish: Team demonstrates novel method to build robots with complex shapes, functionalities
Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego used an innovative 3D printing technology they developed to manufacture multipurpose fish-shaped microrobots—called microfish—that swim around efficiently in liquids, are chemically powered by hydrogen peroxide and magnetically controlled. These proof-of-concept synthetic microfish will inspire a new generation of "smart" microrobots that have diverse capabilities such as detoxification, sensing and directed drug delivery, researchers said.

The technique used to fabricate the microfish provides numerous improvements over other methods traditionally employed to create microrobots with various locomotion mechanisms, such as microjet engines, microdrillers and microrockets. Most of these microrobots are incapable of performing more sophisticated tasks because they feature simple designs—such as spherical or cylindrical structures—and are made of homogeneous inorganic materials. In this new study, researchers demonstrated a simple way to create more complex microrobots.

The research, led by Professors Shaochen Chen and Joseph Wang of the NanoEngineering Department at the UC San Diego, was published in the Aug. 12 issue of the journal Advanced Materials.

"We have developed an entirely new method to engineer nature-inspired microscopic swimmers that have complex geometric structures and are smaller than the width of a human hair. With this method, we can easily integrate different functions inside these tiny robotic swimmers for a broad spectrum of applications,"

So science isn’t broken - but economics definitely is and for a whole lot of reasons. This article doesn’t explore economics - but it is worth the read. It explores the concept of ‘odious debt’ and highlights a growing movement calling for the re-imagining of what economics are.
“Don’t Owe. Won’t Pay.” Everything You’ve Been Told About Debt Is Wrong
With the nation’s household debt burden at $11.85 trillion, even the most modest challenges to its legitimacy have revolutionary implications.
The legitimacy of a given social order rests on the legitimacy of its debts. Even in ancient times this was so. In traditional cultures, debt in a broad sense—gifts to be reciprocated, memories of help rendered, obligations not yet fulfilled—was a glue that held society together. Everybody at one time or another owed something to someone else. Repayment of debt was inseparable from the meeting of social obligations; it resonated with the principles of fairness and gratitude.

If one debt can be nullified, maybe all of them can.
The moral associations of making good on one’s debts are still with us today, informing the logic of austerity as well as the legal code. A good country, or a good person, is supposed to make every effort to repay debts. Accordingly, if a country like Jamaica or Greece, or a municipality like Baltimore or Detroit, has insufficient revenue to make its debt payments, it is morally compelled to privatize public assets, slash pensions and salaries, liquidate natural resources, and cut public services so it can use the savings to pay creditors. Such a prescription takes for granted the legitimacy of its debts.

Today a burgeoning debt resistance movement draws from the realization that many of these debts are not fair. Most obviously unfair are loans involving illegal or deceptive practices—the kind that were rampant in the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis. From sneaky balloon interest hikes on mortgages, to loans deliberately made to unqualified borrowers, to incomprehensible financial products peddled to local governments that were kept ignorant about their risks, these practices resulted in billions of dollars of extra costs for citizens and public institutions alike.

A movement is arising to challenge these debts. In Europe, the International Citizen debt Audit Network (ICAN) promotes “citizen debt audits,” in which activists examine the books of municipalities and other public institutions to determine which debts were incurred through fraudulent, unjust, or illegal means. They then try to persuade the government or institution to contest or renegotiate those debts. In 2012, towns in France declared they would refuse to pay part of their debt obligations to the bailed-out bank Dexia, claiming its deceptive practices resulted in interest rate jumps to as high as 13 percent. Meanwhile, in the United States, the city of Baltimore filed a class-action lawsuit to recover losses incurred through the Libor rate-fixing scandal, losses that could amount to billions of dollars.

When we consider original debt - here’s something that the developed world should already have.
Sri Lanka signs agreement with Google to launch Project Google Loon
Sri Lanka to be first country in the world with universal Internet access
July 28, Colombo: The Government of Sri Lanka today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Google to launch the Google Loon project in the country to provide affordable high-speed internet services to the entire country.

Foreign, Telecommunications and IT Minister Mangala Samaraweera announcing the initiative to cover the entire country with high-speed internet said Sri Lanka will be one of the first countries to have universal Wi-Fi connectivity.

"Using high altitude balloons Google Loon will cover every inch of Sri Lanka with seamless access to the internet. Sri Lanka is now on its way to becoming the first country in the world to have universal internet coverage," a statement said.

The Foreign minister noted that "from this event onwards advertisements or headlines saying "Matara covered" or "Jaffna covered" will become a part of history." And concluded his speech saying that he was "proud to declare that we are at the cusp of a reclaiming our heritage of being connected to each other and connected to the world. In a few months we will truly be able to say: Sri Lanka covered."

Here’s something cool - ancient books published online and accessible to everyone. Some of these books are beautiful.
Vatican Library Puts 4,000 Ancient Manuscripts Available Online For Free
The Vatican Apostolic Library is now digitising its valuable ancient religious manuscripts and putting them online via its website, available for the public to view for free, as well as turning to crowdfunding to help it complete its work.

The Vatican Library was founded in 1451 AD and holds over 80,000 manuscripts, prints, drawings, plates and incunabula (books printed prior to 1500 AD) written throughout history by people of different faiths from across the world.

The library also includes letters from important historical figures, drawings and notes by artists and scientists such as Michelangelo and Galileo, as well as treaties from all eras in history.

The ancient documents are now being preserved under the DigitaVaticana programme using FITS, the format developed by Nasa to store images, astronomical, and astrophysical data, and until now, only 500 manuscripts and 600 incunabula were available to view on the Vatican Library website.

“Thanks to technology we can preserve the past and bequeath it to the future. The manuscripts will be freely available to everyone on the Vatican Library website and the world’s knowledge will truly become humanity’s heritage.”
Here’s the vatican website:

I love these Cool concepts for home and hotel. The pictures are must views.
Would you stay in one of these? Hotels that transform, float, and breathe
The future of hotel design may be more practical than luxurious, according to the jurors behind this year's annual Radical Innovation Award, for the best in progressive, hospitality-minded design.  

Neither shortlisted entries -- Zoku (pictured above) and Snoozebox-- offer guests the usual free chocolates or sheets with a four-digit thread count. Instead, both focus on what the award panel have called the "sensible, sociable and 24/7 connected traveler."

John Hardy, the founder of the Radical Innovation Award says the panel of industry leaders are always debating what is "radical and feasible" when judging entries.
"A few years ago we added the provision that it had to be implemented within three to five years. Entries were getting a little crazy and we decided if we were really going to make a positive impact on the industry, we really needed to make a deal happen."

Speaking about cool accommodations - this is something I’d love to have here on earth. The images are worth the view.
RedWorks Envisions 3D Printed Housing on Mars, Inspired by Nautilus Shells & Pueblos
While many of us may envision a general idea of heading into space, prompted by decades of Star Trek and newer generations of sci-fi entertainment, those who are in the know realize it’s going to be all about tackling housing and self-sustainability first.

We can’t take everything we need in a rocket, and supplies take an awfully long time to get there afterward. There has to be a plan that unfolds once we arrive somewhere like Mars–and it means using what we find around us.

RedWorks is made up of a team of individuals with expertise in everything from aerospace engineering to geology, environmental management, manufacturing, and graphics. They’ve begun rounding out a comprehensive living plan for colonizing Mars, and it begins with the most simple–yet necessary–of materials: dirt.

3D printing and the exploration of space go hand in hand, and it’s one of those topics, sometimes far away not only in miles but also reality, that we enjoy reporting on and thinking about. The potential for what we can do with 3D printing in space once we get there is nearly as vast as space itself, demonstrated here on Earth by the seemingly infinite amount of innovations and new directions in which we can go.

If you do stay in a hotel or not - here’s something about your sleeping position.
Sleeping on your side may clear waste from your brain most effectively
Sleeping in the lateral, or side position, as compared to sleeping on one’s back or stomach, may more effectively remove brain waste and prove to be an important practice to help reduce the chances of developing Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases, according to researchers at Stony Brook University.

By using dynamic contrast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image the brain’s glymphatic pathway, a complex system that clears wastes and other harmful chemical solutes from the brain, Stony Brook University researchers Hedok Lee, PhD, Helene Benveniste, MD, PhD, and colleagues, discovered that a lateral sleeping position is the best position to most efficiently remove waste from the brain. In humans and many animals the lateral sleeping position is the most common one. The buildup of brain waste chemicals may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions. Their finding is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

This is a great 6 min video by John Seely Brown on scaling learning and who he would hire above an MBA from Harvard.
How World of Warcraft Could Save Your Business and The Economy
Learning guru John Seely Brown is not being even slightly ironic when he says that he'd hire an expert player of World of Warcraft (the massive multiplayer online fantasy videogame) over an MBA from Harvard.

Transcript --
I would rather hire a high-level World of Warcraft player than an MBA from Harvard. Why is a game, a massive multiplayer game that has maybe 12 million people or more playing it like the World of Warcraft, so important at both the individual level and maybe at the corporate level?

To understand these massive multiplayer games like World of Warcraft, do not think about it as just game play but look at the social life on the edge of the game. A typical night, there will be approximately 15,000 new strategic ideas created around the world. If you want to compete that night or the next day, somehow you have to appropriate in your own play what 15,000 new ideas mean to you in order to go into this high-end raid. Most of these high-end performance groups in World of Warcraft create guilds; you have to have a guild to do anything because it's a fundamentally collaborative game.

These guilds will be sometimes 100, 200 people. Guess what? They don't have a bonus structure to guide them to incent them. Only passion, only interest works. And what you have to have is find a way to turn this guild structure of several hundred people into knowledge refining groups. And so basically, self-organizing to some extent, things start to happen, particularly groups go off and say, "I'm going to study this." "I'm going to study this." "I'm going to try this idea out and by tonight I will have consolidated . . . this class of ideas about how this particular new magic potion might actually work to re-heal you faster."

This is not about the virtual world - but it definitely anticipates the emergence of new forms of metrics that plausibly will become new forms of currency in the digital environment’s Big Data.
Morality bank in China rewards do-gooders
A rewards system in Yanji, China accredits points to individuals who do good — from mowing lawns to donating stem cells.
We recently saw a Swedish social platform that tracks users’ behaviors and translates their good deeds into a kindness score. This rewards system — whether it encourages users to perform good deeds out of kindness or for points — is a refreshing alternative to the social currency of ‘likes’ that millennials have become crazed for.

Similarly in Chinese city Yanji, a morality bank run by local authorities now rewards people with free services, in exchange for doing something positive in the community. The do-gooders can earn points, which are awarded based on the nature of the good deed — helping someone in a dangerous situation earns 300-500, while donating stem cells equates to 1000 points. Small time do-gooders can earn 20 for fixing appliances, or providing help in emergencies for 30-50. Those in the community needing help can apply to the morality bank and request assistance from their neighbors. The free services that can be exchanged for morality points include health check-ups, free haircuts, or home cleaning sessions. Those who would rather earn street cred can accumulate 6000 points and receive a “model of community morals” certification.

I thought this might be useful to anyone else that is being harassed by Microsoft’s attempt to coerce …..err give away for free - it’s new Window’s 10 OS.
How to stop the Windows 10 Upgrade from downloading on your system
There will be many people very excited about the prospect of upgrading to Windows 10 on the 29th of July.

At the same time there are other users on Windows 7 and 8.1 who do not want any part of the upgrade for a variety of reasons.

Microsoft has confirmed that the new OS, currently in its final stages of development, will be made available for download/install on eligible systems on 29 July 2015.
In preparation for that, back in April, Microsoft released an update (KB3035583) for Windows 7 (Optional) and 8.1 (Recommended) that is called the Get Windows 10 app. It provides the prompt that started appearing on users systems (Windows 7 and 8.1) yesterday and gives you the option to reserve your copy of Windows 10.

But what if you are one of those users with zero interest in the Windows 10 upgrade?

Here’s a 11 min video about the future of print - made in 1994 - the past future today. Amazing how an organization can be so visionary - and yet never implement the future. Like Kodak who invented the digital camera - and then refused to disrupt their film business and eventually were sent to bankruptcy by their own invention.
Tablet Newspaper (1994)
Knight-Ridder produced a video in 1994 demonstrating their faith in the tablet newspaper of the future. Below is the video in its entirety.

We may still use computers to create information but we'll use the tablet to interact with information.

The expert of the video insists that newspaper loyalty will not disappear with the digital age:
Many of the technologists.....assume that information is just a commodity and people really don't care where that information comes from as long as it matches their set of personal interests. I disagree with that view. People recognize the newspapers they subscribe to.....and there is a loyalty attached to those.

In short, "the technologists" were right. Newspaper companies are suing Google because their readers are less loyal than ever and simply want trustworthy news, whatever the source.

So here’s today - an interface for the tablet that makes many things so easy. The gifs are worth the view to get a sense of the power of this interface.
Touchpad Has 20,000 Sensors and Can Interpret 16 Touches at Once
Startup makes a touch- and force-sensitive surface that can transform itself into a piano or a painting canvas.
A startup is building a force- and touch-sensitive pad the size of a small tablet computer to serve as your next drum machine, QWERTY keyboard, painting canvas, or something else entirely.

Sensel wants its iPad-sized gadget, called the Sensel Morph, to be used as an alternative to a keyboard, mouse, or typical touch screen for all kinds of interactions with computers or tablets.

Unlike capacitive touch, which is the technology built into most smartphones and tablets and simply detects the presence of conductive objects like your fingers and special styluses, Sensel’s Morph relies on a grid of 20,000 tiny force sensors that can also figure out how hard all kinds of objects—fingers, brushes, pens—are pressing on it. Flexible overlays embedded with magnets can snap on top of the Morph, giving it the look of, say, a piano or drum pad, and software running on the Morph can interpret the touches (up to 16 at once) and will map them to the different interfaces, the company says.

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