Thursday, September 10, 2015

Friday Thinking 11 September 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.

We believe that three sets of forces will shape the global economy over the coming decade. The first two are stimulus policies and shifting energy markets. These are near-term forces, whose effects are felt on a daily basis. The next two forces, urbanization and aging, are powerful, inexorable trends aggravating ongoing structural challenges. Finally, two forces are of uncertain and variable magnitude: technological innovation and global connectivity. All of these trends could intermittently disrupt and transform sectors.
Shifting tides: Global economic scenarios for 2015–25

Imagine this headline: “House of Representatives approves proposal for guaranteed annual income by wide margin.” The passage of that kind of social welfare measure sounds wholly implausible today, but, in fact, the House did pass such a bill in April of 1970 by a vote of 243 to 155. The measure, The New York Times reported, “establishes for the first time the principle that the Government should guarantee every family a minimum annual income.”

The story did not ultimately have a happy ending for advocates of guaranteed annual income (“GAI”) — the bill died in the Senate. But the fact that it received serious support and consideration in mainstream political circles is a testament to how radically the bounds of political debate have shifted since that time, and raises several crucial questions:

What allowed for GAI to be considered seriously by both Republicans and Democrats in the late-1960s and early 1970s? Why would the chances for a GAI proposal be so bleak today? And why are the answers to those questions critical to the outcome of virtually every other domestic public policy issue that exists today?

In the course of weeks of reporting — both through interviews and an exploration of the documentary record — Remapping Debate found that GAI proposals were given room to breathe in a social and political environment that took seriously the values of citizenship and mutual obligation, and that accepted the fact that social problems could be — indeed, should be — solved by governments.

That environment has disappeared, due in large measure, we found, to the rise of “market thinking,” a mindset that subordinated — and, in some respects, supplanted altogether — the values of citizenship and mutual obligation.
Remapping Debate: The rise and fall of guaranteed income’s important to have meaning in your work. There’s fantastic work by one of your colleagues, Adam Grant, around the importance of mission and connecting your work to something meaningful. In his research, he’s seen that you get a 30% to sometimes 400% improvement in productivity by just making work meaningful. Amy Wrzesniewski, professor at Yale University, also a friend, [does] similar work. She looked at people who were housekeepers, who were janitors in a hospital, and she found a third of folks, even in that kind of job, found meaning in their work and ways to make it matter. So, number one is that.

The second is taking power away from managers. Managers have all these incentives to control and manage, but as employees, we want to be free.  When we feel free, we do our best work. I write a lot about how to take power away from managers. At Google, for example, managers can’t hire. They can’t choose who to promote. It’s all done by committee.

The third big thing is applying some data, some science to make sure that the decisions we make when it comes to people are right. Because our intuition is wrong most of the time. You actually can’t trust your gut. Our computer scientists tell us you’ve got 11 million bits of information coming at us at any given time. If you think about not just what you see, what you hear, you feel your clothing on you. Right? You’re tasting the inside of your mouth. All the time. Your brain filters this out and can only process about 40 of those 11 million bits. So, we make bad decisions without realizing it.

“The benefit of [transparency] is not just that people feel trusted…. The other benefit is they’ll know what’s going on. They’ll make better decisions and they’ll create better products.”
Can Google’s Rules Transform Your Workplace?

...From the plethora of superhero movies, television shows, and comic books, to all other shows, the narrative of the "savior" (also longstanding in our biggest religious narratives) is alive and well. As a result, our "developmental stage" as a civilization remains, our narrative sensibility, is mired in perpetual adolescence.

Mass communication's perpetuation of the simplest forms of the hero's journey narrative--the masculine form--perpetuates the drama triangle: an ever-present tension where characters in our narratives take turns putting on certain masks--whether knowingly or through circumstance--of the Victim, The Persecutor and The Hero/Savior. As an audience we have no choice but to identify with one of those three angles.

The hero-savior archetype usually sacrifices something in order to save us all. And in our deep-seated expectation that a hero will rise to save us, we give our own power away. Someone who will make a difference always arrives in the nick of time, don't they?

In a world where we all need to roll up our sleeves and get to work on so many of the challenges we face--from runaway climate change to poverty and inequality--the paradigm of the hero-savior, endlessly repeated across all of our media, can actually disempower us. We need alternative narratives that show us empowered, diverse people taking on the biggest challenges and coming together to transform a situation, not just "save the day".
Breaking Free of The Hero Myth

This is a great example of the change possible in education because of the digital environment. The question is what other occupations can this sort of sharing benefit?
A Sharing Economy Where Teachers Win
...when Ms. Randazzo heard about, a virtual marketplace where educators can buy and sell lesson plans, she was curious to find out whether the materials she had created for her own students would appeal to other educators.
A couple of years ago, she started posting items, priced at around $1, on the site. Her “Whose Cell Phone Is This?” fictional character worksheet has now sold more than 4,000 copies.

“For a buck, a teacher has a really good tool that she can use with any work of literature,” Ms. Randazzo said in a phone interview last week. “Kids love it because it’s fun. But it’s also rigorous because they have to support their characterizations with evidence.”

She clearly has a knack for understanding the kinds of classroom aids that other teachers are looking for. One of her best-selling items is a full-year collection of high school grammar, vocabulary and literature exercises. It has generated sales on TeachersPayTeachers of about $100,000.

Teachers often spend hours preparing classroom lesson plans to reinforce the material students are required to learn, and many share their best materials with colleagues. Founded in 2006, TeachersPayTeachers speeds up this lesson-plan prep work by monetizing exchanges between teachers and enabling them to make faster connections with farther-flung colleagues.

This is an very interesting anticipation of the potential for Big Data to bring new value.
The Website That Visualizes Human Activity in Cities Across the World
Mobile phone data reveals large-scale human activity that is otherwise hidden from view. Now one website visualizes and compares the activity in different cities.
The data from mobile phones is revolutionizing our understanding of human activity. In recent years, it has revealed commuting patterns in major cities, wealth distribution in African countries, and even reproductive strategies in western societies. That has provided unprecedented insight for economists, sociologists, and city planners among others.

But this kind of advanced research is just a first step in a much broader trend. Phone data is set to become a standard resource that almost anyone can use to study and watch humanity continuously, much as they can now watch the weather unfold anywhere on the planet almost in real time.

But one thing is holding them back—the lack of powerful computational tools that can gather, crunch, and present the data in meaningful ways.

Today, that looks set to change to the work of Dániel Kondor and a few pals at the SENSEable City Laboratory, part of MIT, and at Ericsson, a company that produces network infrastructure technologies. These guys have unveiled a powerful online tool that uses mobile phone data to visualize human activity in cities all over the world.

This new tool, called ManyCities, allows anybody to study human activity in various cities with unprecedented detail.  But the key is that it organizes and presents the data in intuitive ways that quickly reveals trends and special events.
Here is the ManyCities website:
And here is more information about ManyCities
The Signature of Humanity project
As physical space is increasingly suffused with digital technologies, data from communication networks allow us to better understand human behavior. New meaning can be revealed within these datasets, outlining characteristic usages and dynamic patterns at both the individual and collective scale.

The SENSEable City Lab and Ericsson have embarked on an unprecedented journey inside the telecommunications network – a dataset that traces across the planet. Our leading project aims at exploring the calls, SMS, data requests (initiated either by the users or background applications), and data traffic within major cities.

The project investigates questions such as:
  • Can we find repeating dynamical patterns?
  • How are these patterns affected by specific events?
  • Can we differentiate specific spatial areas with their activity patterns?
  • Which are the similarities and difference between major cities in different parts of the world?
As the partnership between Ericsson and MIT continues, our research will delve further into these questions, promoting a deeper understanding of how the pulses of cities around the world interact to shape a single signal: the signature of humanity.

Here’s a very cool game - even for non-gamers. There’s short videos and other video elaborating on the game.
Miegakure is a game where you navigate a four-dimensional world to perform miraculous feats and solve puzzles
Miegakure is the first game that lets you explore and interact with a 4D world. In this game, the fourth dimension is not time! It is an actual fourth dimension of space, that works just like the first three dimensions we are familiar with. If you count time, this game is 5D.

For a while games used to be 2D, taking place solely along two directions. For example, a game character could only move forwards and backwards, or jump up and down. Then came computers powerful enough to render 3D graphics, which allowed for full 3D movement: up / down, backwards / forwards and left / right. (Of course, the graphics we see, while they are computed in 3D, are displayed on a 2D screen. They are projected down from 3D to 2D, in a way that mimics how our eyes perceive the third dimension.)

But it doesn’t stop there. If in a 2D game every object’s position is represented in the computer using two numbers, and if in a 3D game every object’s position is represented using three numbers, what if each position was represented using four numbers? In other words, what if there was another direction you could move along in addition to the first three? Trying to answer this question is what that led us to develop this game.

The is a great TED talk about what it is that sets humans apart - I would say it’s fundamentally the social self that enables cooperation that enacts our imagination - a sharing that is only possible through language.
Yuval Noah Harari: What explains the rise of humans?
Seventy thousand years ago, our human ancestors were insignificant animals, just minding their own business in a corner of Africa with all the other animals. But now, few would disagree that humans dominate planet Earth; we've spread to every continent, and our actions determine the fate of other animals (and possibly Earth itself). How did we get from there to here? Historian Yuval Noah Harari suggests a surprising reason for the rise of humanity.

Here’s an interesting accompaniment to gaming - but equally important to anyone who wants to frame information into more compelling narratives. The info-graph is well worth the view and there’s a video as well.
The Universal Shapes of Stories, According to Kurt Vonnegut
The fundamental concept behind Kurt Vonnegut's master's thesis in anthropology at the University of Chicago was, in Vonnegut's words, "that stories have shapes which can be drawn on graph paper."

Vonnegut's thesis was rejected* ("because it was so simple, and looked like too much fun," according to him), and he left the university soon thereafter, sans degree, to take a job with the public relations department at General Electric; but he would champion his theory defiantly, with characteristic wit and charm, for the rest of his days, both in writing and in lectures….

Not only do stories have visualizable shapes - but so does knowledge. In fact how we visualize knowledge can structure how we reason about knowledge. Visualization enable us to think differently or more precisely enable us to think in new ways. This really is a Must View 13 min video.
Manuel Lima: A visual history of human knowledge
How does knowledge grow? Sometimes it begins with one insight and grows into many branches; other times it grows as a complex and interconnected network. Infographics expert Manuel Lima explores the thousand-year history of mapping data — from languages to dynasties — using trees and networks of information. It's a fascinating history of visualizations, and a look into humanity's urge to map what we know.

And on the topic of knowledge and libraries - here’s something that answers my irritation when some book that looks interesting ends up being priced at some ridiculous level. This is a business model - that’s whole based on artificial scarcity.
Academics are being hoodwinked into writing books nobody can buy
An editor called me up to ask me if I’d like to write a book. I smelled a rat, but I played along…
…. This time, however, I decided to play along.

So I got the editor on the phone and he asked if I had an idea for them. “Sure,” I said, trying to sound enthusiastic. “Perhaps I could write a book about…” – and here I started piling up ugly-sounding buzzwords.
I could hear how he momentarily drifted off, probably to reply to an email, and when I was done with my terrible pitch, he simply said: “Great!”

“The best thing now,” he continued, “is if you could jot down a few pages, as a proposal, which we could then send out to reviewers.” He paused a second, then added: “If you have any friends who could act as reviewers and who you think could sign off on the project, then that’d be great.”
I was intrigued by the frankness.
“How much would the book be sold for?” I inquired, aware this might not be his favourite question. “£80,” he replied in a low voice.

“So there won’t be a cheaper paperback edition?” I asked, pretending to sound disappointed.
“No, I’m afraid not,” he said, “we only really sell to libraries. But we do have great sales reps that get the books into universities all across the world.”
“So how many copies do you usually sell?” I inquired.

“About 300.”
“For all your books?”
“Yes, unless you would assign your book on your own modules.”
I was growing fascinated by the numbers so I asked how many of these books they published each year.

“I have to…” he started (inadvertently revealing that this was a target that had been set) “…I have to publish around 75 of these.”

Seventy-five books, £80 each, selling on average 300 copies. That’s £1.8m. And he’s just one of their commissioning editors. What’s more, these publishers are not known for hiring talented illustrators to come up with nice covers – and you rarely see their books advertised in magazines. ….

What’s the subtext or the ground of that perpetual cheer - the happy off-gasing that service workers begin to exude when you enter a store - even if all you want to do is browse autonomously. David Graeber call it ‘interpretive labor’ and it’s inherent in situations of inequality of power.
Why enforced ‘service with a smile’ should be banned
Requiring employees to fake happiness takes a toll and doesn’t increase sales
When you stumble into Starbucks for your morning coffee and are greeted by a super cheery barista inquiring about your day and your life in general, do you ever want to smack that smile off her face?

Well, pity the barista. In recent years the “service with a smile”mantra has risen to new heights; many workers in the service industry are expected to go beyond mere politeness, creating a “presence” or “sense of fun.” Consider the remarks of Clive Schee, CEO of the sandwich chain Pret A Manger:
“The first thing I look at,” he says, “is whether staff are touching each other — are they smiling, reacting to each other, happy, engaged? Look, she’s just touched her colleague — squeezed her arm. If I see hands going up in the air, that’s a good sign. I can almost predict sales on body language alone.”

As a customer, you may find this relentless cheer uplifting or annoying (I err on the latter; please stop asking me about my day and just make my coffee). In the service industry, this “emotional labor,” to use the academic parlance, is typically a job requirement that’s enforced by management. Yet a large body of research suggests that emotional labor comes at a cost and one that’s primarily paid by the employee. I can’t speak to sales at Pret A Manger, but research also finds little evidence that the practice increases store profits.

“It’s sort of an invisible form of work,” says Penn State organizational psychologist Alicia Grandey, who has studied emotional labor for years. “But it has a real cost. We really want management to think about this: If this is really important to you as a company, if you value it, then you should train for it, and compensate for it. And you should create an environment that is supportive for the employee.”

Grandey isn’t talking about an initial smile when interacting with a customer. It’s maintaining extreme cheer over time and in response to all sorts of people and situations that can be challenging. Such scenarios are the focus of a recent review paper by Grandey and her colleagues that goes over decades of research examining the benefits and costs of emotional labor practices. The paper brings together studies from psychology and sociology that examine factors like burnout in call center workers and emotional exhaustion in bus drivers, and also includes experimental research examining the taxing nature of regulating emotions when performing tasks. Ultimately, Grandey and her colleagues conclude that emotional labor is an unjust practice that should be banned.

Here’s a development on renewable energy that worth the look.
Hawaii became the first state in the US to generate electricity from the thermal energy stored in ocean water using a new 105-kilowatt ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC) plant on Big Island, reports Bloomberg. The OTEC plant cost $5 million to build and is the world’s largest power plant using this renewable and clean energy source. The project was funded and developed through a collaboration between Hawaii’s Makai Ocean Engineering, the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research, and the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) at the University of Hawaii.

Ocean thermal energy uses the temperature difference between warm surface water and deep cold ocean water to drive a turbine that is used to produce electricity. Because it relies on surface heating from sunlight, the supply of ocean thermal energy is practically limitless, especially in tropical areas where the ocean’s surface water heats up quickly. Much like a fossil fuel plant, the OTEC system provides this energy in a steady stream that can be ramped up or scaled down quickly in response to demand. Not only is it a constant and clean energy source, the OTEC system also is capable of producing “a massive amount of energy,” claim Makai staff.

An interesting anticipation of how drones can be used in massive scale environmental management - even assassin drones.
Poison-Injecting Robot Submarine Assassinates Sea Stars to Save Coral Reefs
... infestations of crown-of-thorns sea stars (herein abbreviated COTSS) are only partially our fault: it’s true that we’ve been relentlessly overfishing the things that eat COTSS, and that’s a bad thing. However, the chief cause of COTSS population explosions seems to be correlated with rain over nearby land washing extra nutrients into the water, causing plankton blooms and making it easier for COTSS larvae to find food and grow up big and strong and spiky. Since one single large COTSS female can deliver upwards of 50 million eggs, even a modest boost to larvae survival rates can result in an enormous boom in mature sea stars.

When these outbreaks happen, swift and comprehensive eradication becomes a priority to keep reefs intact, but human divers can only manage to kill about 120 sea stars per hour with poison. Last year, a much more effective poison was developed at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, called thiosulfate-citrate-bile salts-sucrose agar that can kill a COTSS in 24 hours after a single injection, causing “discolored and necrotic skin, ulcerations, loss of body turgor, accumulation of colourless mucus, loss of spines [and] large, open sores that expose the internal organs.”

This one-shot poison (which is harmless to everything else on the reef) is what makes autonomous robotic sea star control possible, since it means that a robot can efficiently target individual sea stars without having to try and keep track of which ones it’s injected already so it can go back and repeat the process nine more times. At Queensland University of Technology in Australia, a group of researchers led by Matthew Dunbabin and Peter Corke spent the last decade working on COTSBot, which has been specifically designed to seek out and murder crown-of-thorns sea stars as mercilessly and efficiently as possible.

And on the topic of environmental transformation - this is another development in emerging field of urban agriculture.
Japan’s Spread Vegetable Factory is working on a novel way of producing high quantities of lettuce using factory automation, reports the Wall Street Journal. Starting next year, the company will begin construction on a large-scale, fully-automated lettuce factory that’ll cost up to 2 billion yen to build ($16.5 million USD). According to the Kyoto-based company, its automated process will be able to produce 30,000 heads of lettuce in a single day starting in summer 2017 with a goal of 500,000 heads of lettuce with five years. Except seeding and germination that requires visual confirmation, most of growing process is automated, requiring minimal human intervention to take the lettuce to harvest.

Spread already has years of experience growing vegetables at a factory level using an indoor vertical farm system and artificial LED lighting, but this automated plant takes the growing process to a whole new level. The automated process uses stacker cranes that’ll carry the seedlings to robots who will transplant them into their final growing spots. When the plants have reached maturity, they will be harvested and moved to the packaging plant without outside intervention. This entire process is automatically controlled even down to the environmental controls that adjust automatically and work in any climate around the world.

This isn’t about an automated farm - but it’s close. Amazon’s recent bad publicity about how it treats workers may not be very relevant soon. The pictures are worth the view.
Inside Amazon
At a new fulfillment center in New Jersey, humans and robots work together in a highly efficient system
Some of the secrets behind Amazon’s phenomenal success as an online retailer can be discovered inside a million-square-foot warehouse that sits amid bucolic scenery in the town of Robbinsville, New Jersey. The building is one of Amazon’s most advanced fulfillment centers, and it houses technologies that allow the company to deliver products to customers at amazing speed. Goods are identified, sorted, and packaged with computer-assisted precision, while employees work in tight collaboration with the plant’s automated systems in shifts that run around the clock.

Upon arrival, each new product is identified using a computer vision system that catalogues it rapidly, feeding its weight and dimensions into a central tracking system. At the heart of the building, items stored on tall, square shelves are kept stocked by humans working with a team of 2,000 squat orange robots. The robots zip around the storage area, picking up shelves and either arranging them in neat rows for storage or bringing them over to the human workers, who stack or pick from them. Further along the fulfillment line, workers charged with packing up orders for shipping are automatically given the optimal size of shipping box and even the correct amount of packing tape. Before those boxes are sent to trucks, a system weighs them to make sure the correct products are inside.

This is an interesting breakthrough in size and energy for the development of lidar systems.
Self-sweeping laser could dramatically shrink 3D mapping systems
A new approach that uses light to move mirrors could usher in a new generation of laser technology for a wide range of applications, including remote sensing, self-driving car navigation and 3D biomedical imaging.

A team of UC Berkeley engineers led by Connie Chang-Hasnain, a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences, used a novel concept to automate the way a light source changes its wavelength as it sweeps the surrounding landscape. They report their findings in the journal Scientific Reports, published Thursday, Sept. 3.

The advance could have implications for imaging technology using LIDAR, or light detection and ranging, and OCT, or optical coherence tomography.

“Our paper describes a fast, self-sweeping laser that can dramatically reduce the power consumption, size, weight and cost of LIDAR and OCT devices on the market today,” said Chang-Hasnain, chair of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Graduate Group at UC Berkeley. “The advance could shrink components that now take up the space of a shoebox down to something compact and lightweight enough for smartphones or small UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles].”

LIDAR works by shining a beam of light at a target and measuring the amount of time it takes to bounce back. Because the speed of light is constant, this system can then be used to calculate distance. Self-driving vehicles and remote sensing technology use LIDAR for navigation and the creation of 3D maps.

OCT applies the same principle of measurement to the scale of millimeters in medical imaging. The technology is used to create cross-sectional images of the retina and help with the early detection of retinal diseases, including age-related macular degeneration.

Here’s another interesting article contributing to the biological frontier that is literally deconstructing our concepts of what a person is biologically and psychologically - from atomistic, isolated self - toward a deeper socially embedded ecology of selves.
Baby’s Cells Can Manipulate Mom’s Body for Decades
An evolutionary approach may help scientists understand why mothers become genetic chimeras and how that affects their health
Mothers around the world say they feel like their children are still a part of them long after they've given birth. As it turns out, that is literally true. During pregnancy, cells from the fetus cross the placenta and enter the mother's body, where they can become part of her tissues.

This cellular invasion means that mothers carry unique genetic material from their children’s bodies, creating what biologists call a microchimera, named after the legendary beasts made of different animals. The phenomenon is widespread among mammals, and scientists have proposed a number of theories for how it affects the mother, from better wound healing to higher risk of cancer.

Now a team of biologists argues that to really understand what microchimerism does to moms, we need to figure out why it evolved in the first place.

“What we are hoping to do is not only provide an evolutionary framework for understanding how and why microchimerism came to be, but also to assess how this affects health,” says lead author Amy Boddy, a geneticist at Arizona State University.

Maternal-fetal conflict has its origins with the very first placental mammals millions of years ago. Over evolutionary time, the fetus has evolved to manipulate the mother's physiology and increase the transfer of resources like nutrition and heat to the developing child. The mother's body in turn has evolved countermeasures to prevent excessive resource flow.

Just in case people imagine their own or anyone else’s microbial profile as ‘gross’ or ‘icky’ here’s something that brings a more nuanced aesthetic sensibility our microbial ecology. It should be self-evident that the images are worth the view.
Artists Reveal the Bacterial Beauty of the Human Microbiome
In one sense, you are more bacteria than you are human. At least, you are vastly outnumbered by the amount of bacteria inside you. The human body contains 10 times more bacterial cells than human cells. Advances in DNA technology are finally allowing scientists to study these microbial companions in depth, deepening our understanding of how the colonies of bacteria that coexist with the human body—the microbiome— influence mental and physical health. Each one of us has an utterly unique melange of different types of bacteria that can affect our anxiety and depression levels, influence our weight, and serve as protection against disease, among other things.

As a way to help nonscientists understand these organisms that call our bodies home, the Eden Center, an educational charity with a visitor center in Cornwall, U.K., commissioned 11 artists to explore the microbiome through a visual medium. The new permanent exhibition, “Invisible You,” includes a 7-foot-tall bouncy inflatable gut, a paper sculpture of an E. coli bacterium, embroidery of microbial communities on human skin, and a sculpture containing a fecal transplant.

“We wanted to take people inside their bodies, making the actual concept easier to understand,” Gabriella Gilkes, the Eden Project’s science program manager
Though people may share some of the same kinds of bacteria, your microbiome is as unique as your DNA. Scientists postulate it could identify you as easily as a fingerprint does. And yet we contain multitudes of living creatures. "We are these walking colonies," observes sculptor Rogan Brown, whose cut-paper renderings of E. coli are on display in the exhibit. "Of course it isn't an alien species. It's part and parcel of who you are."

Now we are at a microscale of biology - this TED talk goes even further and discusses the concept of quantum biology. This is well worth the view - the emerging worlds of new fundamental science - with the potential of shattering our Newtonian quotidian experience of a profoundly counter-intuitive reality - including a deeper understanding of evolution.
Jim Al-Khalili: How quantum biology might explain life’s biggest questions
How does a robin know to fly south? The answer might be weirder than you think: Quantum physics may be involved. Jim Al-Khalili rounds up the extremely new, extremely strange world of quantum biology, where something Einstein once called “spooky action at a distance” helps birds navigate, and quantum effects might explain the origin of life itself.

Talking about quantum. One implication of the emergence of quantum computing is not just faster problem solving - but faster problem solving. The long term future of our security may not lie in more powerful encryption.
Cryptographers Brace for Quantum Revolution
Encryption fix begins in preparation for arrival of futuristic computers
It is an inevitability that cryptographers dread: the arrival of powerful quantum computers that can break the security of the Internet. Although these devices are thought to be a decade or more away, researchers are adamant that preparations must begin now.

Computer-security specialists are meeting in Germany this week to discuss quantum-resistant replacements for today’s cryptographic systems—the protocols used to scramble and protect private information as it traverses the web and other digital networks. Although today’s hackers can, and often do, steal private information by guessing passwords, impersonating authorized users or installing malicious software on computer networks, existing computers are unable to crack standard forms of encryption used to send sensitive data over the Internet.

But on the day that the first large quantum computer comes online, some widespread and crucial encryption methods will be rendered obsolete. Quantum computers exploit laws that govern subatomic particles, so they could easily defeat existing encryption methods.

“I’m genuinely worried we’re not going to be ready in time,” says Michele Mosca, co-founder of the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo in Canada and chief executive of evolutionQ, a cyber-security consulting company.

Before the revolution here's is a primer on encryption for everyone.
Phone and laptop encryption guide: Protect your stuff and yourself
How to encrypt local storage on your Google, Microsoft, and Apple devices.
The worst thing about having a phone or laptop stolen isn’t necessarily the loss of the physical object itself, though there’s no question that that part sucks. It’s the amount of damage control you have to do afterward. Calling your phone company to get SIMs deactivated, changing all of your account passwords, and maybe even canceling credit cards are all good ideas, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Using strong PINs or passwords and various Find My Phone features is a good place to start if you’d like to limit the amount of cleanup you need to do, but in this day and age it’s a good idea to encrypt your device’s local storage if at all possible. Full-disk or full-device encryption (that is, encrypting everything on your drive, rather than a specific folder or user profile) isn’t yet a default feature across the board, but most of the major desktop and mobile OSes support it in some fashion. In case you’ve never considered it before, here’s what you need to know.

Why encrypt?
Even if you normally protect your user account with a decent password, that doesn’t truly protect your data if someone decides to swipe your device. For many computers, the drive can simply be removed and plugged into another system, or the computer can be booted from an external drive and the data can be copied to that drive. Android phones and tablets can be booted into recovery mode and many of the files on the user partition can be accessed with freely available debug tools. And even if you totally wipe your drive, disk recovery software may still be able to read old files.

Encrypting your local storage makes all of that much more difficult, if not impossible. Anyone trying to access your data will need a key to actually mount the drive or read anything off of it, and if you wipe the drive the leftover data that can be read by that file recovery software will still be encrypted even if the new data on the drive isn’t.

There are a few downsides. If you yourself lose the key or if your drive becomes corrupted, for example, it might be more difficult or impossible to recover data. It can slow down performance, especially for devices with processors that don’t provide hardware acceleration for encrypting and decrypting data. But, by and large, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, and the slowdown for modern devices should be tolerable-to-unnoticeable.

Domesticating DNA and matter may be one coherent effort - that is a fundamental change in the conditions of change.
The tiniest Lego: a tale of nanoscale motors, rotors, switches and pumps
Inspired by biology, chemists have created a cornucopia of molecular parts that act as switches, motors and ratchets. Now it is time to do something useful with them.
The robot moves slowly along its track, pausing regularly to reach out an arm that carefully scoops up a component. The arm connects the component to an elaborate construction on the robot's back. Then the robot moves forward and repeats the process — systematically stringing the parts together according to a precise design.

It might be a scene from a high-tech factory — except that this assembly line is just a few nanometres long. The components are amino acids, the product is a small peptide and the robot, created by chemist David Leigh at the University of Manchester, UK, is one of the most complex molecular-scale machines ever devised.

It is not alone. Leigh is part of a growing band of molecular architects who have been inspired to emulate the machine-like biological molecules found in living cells — kinesin proteins that stride along the cell's microscopic scaffolding, or the ribosome that constructs proteins by reading genetic code. Over the past 25 years, these researchers have devised an impressive array of switches, ratchets, motors, rods, rings, propellers and more — molecular mechanisms that can be plugged together as if they were nanoscale Lego pieces. And progress is accelerating, thanks to improved analytical-chemistry tools and reactions that make it easier to build big organic molecules.

Now the field has reached a turning point. “We've made 50 or 60 different motors,” says Ben Feringa, a chemist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. “I'm less interested in making another motor than actually using it.”

That message was heard clearly in June, when one of the influential US Gordon conferences focused for the first time on molecular machines and their potential applications, a clear sign that the field has come of age, says the meeting's organizer, chemist Rafal Klajn of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. “In 15 years' time,” says Leigh, “I think they will be seen as a core part of chemistry and materials design.”

This may not be nano-tech but just because it’s cool. There are a few very short videos that are totally worth the view.
One-Wheeled Gyro Skate Coming to Kickstarter
...a company called Hoverboard Technologies has just released a preview video that will be part of its Kickstarter campaign to begin on September 17.

Hoverboard Technologies’ founder Robert Bigler of Animatics fame is adding the newly designed Gyro Skate to the long list of “hoverboards” that incorporate gyroscope technology similar to that used in the Segways. According to a reports from Hoverboard the Gyro Skate is powered by an electric motor. To maneuver the board the rider leans to produce acceleration or braking and twists the hips to activate turning.

This is also very cool - a 4 min video about school kids designing new approaches to reducing food waste - from farm to table. This is what school should be about.
Breaker Future of Food

This is worth the view for anyone who has to use PowerPoint for presentation of their work. You may not be making a ‘pitch deck’ but you are trying to enable people to quickly grasp a narrative about your research. For example: If they’re reading, you’re in trouble, because that means they’re not listening to you.
How to Design a Pitch Deck: Lessons from a Seasoned Founder
Successful startups are known for their disruptive approach, so it’s interesting to see how so many innovative companies are surprisingly conservative (and sometimes sloppy) when it comes to their pitch deck — a curious fact considering the design and development resources at their disposal.

I had some success in the past with a pitch deck I created for my company Piccsy— and although it’s unnecessary to go to the lengths that we did to create a quality deck — it never hurts to swing for the fences.

Keep in mind a well-designed deck is not as important as the product you’re pitching, but it can clarify and enhance your presentation. Compare it to wearing a tie and pressed button up to a job interview: it won’t get you the job, but it will prevent you from having to dig yourself out of the hole a wrinkled tee and cargo shorts would have created.

Using the pitch of my new company Mylo as a case study, I’ll show you how to create a well-designed deck.

And here’s some good pointers that can be related to the design of presentation or websites - thinking about ‘user experience’. This is a very succinct articles - basically just a series of 13 pictures and corresponding stats.
13 mind-blowing statistics on user experience
You are 64 times more likely to climb Mount Everest than clicking on a banner ad

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