Thursday, December 17, 2015

Friday Thinking 18 December 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.

“If we’re all in a ship together and the ship has some holes in it, and we’re sort of bailing water out of it, and we have a great design for a bucket, then even if we’re bailing out way better than everyone else, we should probably still share the bucket design.”
Elon Musk
The plunge in childbearing is startling. Eighty-three countries containing 46 per cent of the world’s population – including every single country in Europe – now have fertility below replacement rate of about 2.1 births per woman. Another 46 per cent live in countries where the birth rate has fallen sharply. In 48 countries the population will decline between now and 2050. That leaves just 9 per cent of the world’s population, almost all in Africa, living in nations with pre-industrial fertility rates of five or six children per woman. But even in Africa fertility is starting to dip.
Why are "new economy" moguls mostly optimists?

Governments have signalled an end to the fossil fuel era, committing for the first time to a universal agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change.

After 20 years of fraught meetings, including the past two weeks spent in an exhibition hall on the outskirts of Paris, negotiators from nearly 200 countries signed on to a legal agreement on Saturday evening that set ambitious goals to limit temperature rises and to hold governments to account for reaching those targets.

Government and business leaders said the agreement, which set a new goal to reach net zero emissions in the second half of the century, sent a powerful signal to global markets, hastening the transition away from fossil fuels and to a clean energy economy.

“This universal and ambitious agreement sends a clear signal to governments, businesses, and investors everywhere: the transformation of our global economy from one fuelled by dirty energy to one fuelled by sustainable economic growth is now firmly and inevitably underway,” Gore said in a statement.
Paris climate deal: nearly 200 nations sign in end of fossil fuel era

By 2020, an estimated 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. Objects you’ve never even considered will become smart devices – dog collars, coffee makers, windows. That’s billions of devices and trillions of sensors, too many to manage through human manipulation or the stimulus-response commands of the past. It will become a practical necessity for devices to operate autonomously, and all the signs point to 2016 being the tipping point for the emergence of the Age of Autonomy.
‘Autonomous tech’ will surge in 2016 — keep an eye on these 8 players

...encompassing studies of multiple organisms, from bees and birds to monkeys and humans—suggests something more exciting: that our social lives can change our gene expression with a rapidity, breadth, and depth previously overlooked.

Why would we have evolved this way? The most probable answer is that an organism that responds quickly to fast-changing social environments will more likely survive them. That organism won’t have to wait around, as it were, for better genes to evolve on the species level.

Immunologists discovered something similar 25 years ago: Adapting to new pathogens the old-fashioned way—waiting for natural selection to favor genes that create resistance to specific pathogens—would happen too slowly to counter the rapidly changing pathogen environment. Instead, the immune system uses networks of genes that can respond quickly and flexibly to new threats.

“We think of our bodies as stable biological structures that live in the world but are fundamentally separate from it. That we are unitary organisms in the world but passing through it. But what we’re learning from the molecular processes that actually keep our bodies running is that we’re far more fluid than we realize, and the world passes through us.”
The Social Life of Genes

"Imagine a world where you could just use your thoughts to control your environment," Sanchez said. "Think about controlling different aspects of your home just using your brain signals, or maybe communicating with your friends and your family just using neural activity from your brain."
Dr. Justin Sanchez - DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office
What the world will be like in 30 years, according to the US government's top scientists

This is a very short article, yet well worth the view.
Google’s surprising discovery about effective teams
Google has done extensive research into the skills and character traits of a good manager. But what about the rest of the workforce? For any large organization to thrive, entire teams need to gel together to succeed.

In 2013, the internet giant decided to explore this issue. After all, of its 37,000 staff members, only 6,000 of them were managers or directors. Were the other 31,000 staff members as effective as the people leading them?

Over a period of two years, a group of researchers at the company analysed more than 180 teams and interviewed hundreds of employees. Their mission? Finding the recipe behind the dream team: “We were pretty confident that we’d find the perfect mix of individual traits and skills necessary for a stellar team – take one Rhodes Scholar, two extroverts, one engineer who rocks at AngularJS, and a PhD,” they explained on their blog, re:Work.

Their findings could not have been further from their initial assumptions. It turns out that the secret to a high-performing team lies less in the individuals that make it up and more in the wider team dynamics: “Who is on a team matters less than how the team members interact, structure their work, and view their contributions.” High-performing teams, they found, almost always displayed five characteristics:
Psychological Safety; Dependability; Structure & Clarity; Meaning; Impact.

One of the significant implications of ubiquitous Internet and search is access to knowledge - this is an interesting study of the ‘common sensical’ consequences to knowledge access.
Access to the Internet makes us less willing to say we know things
People are less willing to rely on their knowledge and say they know something when they have access to the Internet, suggesting that our connection to the web is affecting how we think.

Professor Evan F. Risko, of the Department of Psychology at the University of Waterloo, led a recent study where the team asked about 100 participants a series of general-knowledge questions, such as naming the capital of France. Participants indicated if they knew the answer or not. For half of the study, participants had access to the Internet. They had to look up the answer when they responded that they did not know the answer. In the other half of the study, participants did not have access to the Internet.

The team found that the people who had access to the web were about 5 per cent more likely to say that they did not know the answer to the question. Furthermore, in some contexts, the people with access to the Internet reported feeling as though they knew less compared to the people without access.

"With the ubiquity of the Internet, we are almost constantly connected to large amounts of information. And when that data is within reach, people seem less likely to rely on their own knowledge," said Professor Risko, Canada Research Chair in Embodied and Embedded Cognition.

Well knowledge falls from thinking and applying that to the real world. Here’s an interesting site with lots and lots to read.
Thought Leaders 2015
Big ideas can change the world, and thinkers in the global ranking contribute with ideas of their own. Good deeds and good stories helped to achieve the best rankings. And while the number of women in the top 100 increased from 12 to 14, their number in the top 10 dropped from two to zero.

I generally like David Brin’s insights on things - his book “Transparent Society’ is still one of the best discussions of what privacy is and what trajectory we should be supporting in the future. This short article is an nice exploration of the intrinsic optimism of the digital environment’s technology creators.
Why are "new economy" moguls mostly optimists?
Are people in the New Economy – especially tech billionaires – different from their Old Economy peers? I have long maintained that the Silicon Valley types retain a sense of loyalty to the “diamond shaped” society that engendered them, and to the middle class engineers and others whose skill made them rich. This is in sharp contrast to those who got wealthy from resource extraction, finance-parasitism and inheritance, who tend toward colluding together in hope of restoring society to its more accustomed shape – a feudal pyramid of owner-privilege.  As evidence for this difference, many tech moguls have signed the Gates-Buffett pledge to donate half their wealth to good causes. Another? Most of them are (or sympathize with) democrats.  

But in fact, the situation is complex.  As this article -- Silicon Valley Represents an Entirely New Political Category -- shows, these men and women of the New Economy – including those who are less than zillionaires – retain some strong libertarian leanings.  They want capitalism to be open and competitive and fair… but they want capitalism. They tend to be “collectivist” in the sense that they strongly believe in a commons where all children get fed, and educated, with free health care… but they expect the resulting, confident adults to need and want to strive. Government has a major, desireable role in all of this. But its preferred function is to level the starting blocks, not the finish line.

Gregory Ferenstein writes, “I found that the philosophy of Silicon Valley is radical idealism. Founders describe themselves as optimists, first and foremost.”  And… “This idealism is not rhetorical fluff; it’s founded on two deep-seated assumptions about the world: change is inherently progressive and there are no conflicts between major groups in society.”

Emerging on the scene in 2008 Bitcoin - was deemed a fad by most people. Today not only are major banks preparing to adopt the technology platform of Bitcoind - The Blockchain - but now the stock market makes a move.
SEC Approves Plan to Issue Stock Via Bitcoin’s Blockchain
THE SECURITIES AND Exchange Commission has approved a plan from online retailer to issue company stock via the Internet, signaling a significant shift in the way financial securities will be distributed and traded in the years to come.

Over the past year, Overstock and its freethinking CEO, Patrick Byrne, have developed technology for issuing financial securities by way of the blockchain, the vast online ledger underpinning the bitcoin digital currency. The blockchain is essentially an enormous database that runs across a global network of independent computers. With bitcoin, this ledger tracks the exchange of money. But it can also track the exchange of anything else that holds value, including stocks, bonds, and other financial securities. Overstock has already used the blockchain to issue private bonds, which did not require explicit regulatory approval. Now, the SEC has told the company it can issue public securities in much the same way.

Public documents filed by Overstock show that the SEC has approved an amended Form S-3 that would allow the company to issue public securities via blockchain-based technology, and Byrne plans to announce the news this evening at a bitcoin conference in San Diego. It’s unclear when the company will actually issue a public security on the blockchain. “You can assume its high on our list of priorities for 2016,” Byrne tells WIRED.

Byrne believes the technology “can do for the capital market what the Internet has done for consumers.” It’s designed to provide a secure, transparent, reliable, and largely automatic way of tracking who owns a given security at any given time. And in Byrne’s mind, it could replace systems run by the New York and Nasdaq stock exchanges. Such a system could eliminate many of the middlemen who have traditionally controlled the market, and thanks to its technological precision, it could close certain market loopholes. “There are all kinds of ways to rig the market,” Byrne told WIRED earlier this year. “We want to make it un-rig-able.”

The looming disruption of self-driving cars - remains outside of most people’s imagination - here’s another moment in the accelerating trajectory to a new world of transportation.
Baidu’s Self-Driving Car Takes On Beijing Traffic
China’s leading search company is developing a self-driving car with BMW.
Driving around Beijing often feels unnervingly like a contact sport, with vehicles recklessly plunging through thick traffic, sneaking along the shoulder, or cutting through red lights—whether pedestrians are trying to cross the road or not. It’s hard to imagine a more challenging situation for a self-driving car.

Baidu, China’s leading Internet search company, is working on an automated car designed to cope with this traffic chaos. The company recently gave MIT Technology Review an exclusive peek at the vehicle in Beijing. Baidu is developing the car in collaboration with the German automaker BMW.

Andrew Ng, the chief scientist of Baidu, says he was riding in the car in Beijing last week when another vehicle swerved in front of it. “I was glad our driver hit the brakes, but then I found out it was the car that did it automatically,” he says. “If I had been driving, we would have hit the car in front.”

Baidu’s engineers showed the car performing several autonomous maneuvers around the company’s parking lot. For the past few weeks, the car has also been put through more rigorous tests on a 30-kilometer highway route beginning at Baidu’s Beijing headquarters, looping around the capital’s fifth ring road, and back. The car has autonomously merged into traffic, and successfully overtaken other vehicles.

Here’s an interesting accelerator for people who have ideas but not the knowledge. Who knows what the self-life of this idea is - given that the next trajectory is intelligent assistants rather than generic apps. But it may not e long before highly customized intelligent essistants can be constructed with ‘lego-like’ apps.
Software Eats Software Development As Andreessen Invests $10M In App Outsourcer Gigster
Send Gigster your app idea and it sends you back that app. No coding. No hiring. No wrangling freelancers. Just a fundamental shift in how software gets built. That’s why Andreessen Horowitz has led a new $10 million Series A for Gigster just 18 weeks after its launch.

The lauded venture firm was impressed with Gigster’s artificial intelligence engine. It converts a client’s product proposal into a development plan, and helps Gigster’s army of remote developers plug in pre-made code blocks to efficiently build the app. Built by co-founder and CTO Debo Olaosebikan, Gigster’s AI perfectly fits Marc Andreessen’s investment thesis that “software is eating the world“, and Andreessen partner Chris Dixon’s thoughts about “software eating software development“.

Gigster has helped build a dating app for muslim millenials, a way for citizens of the developing world to buy electricity, and has over 50 more projects in the pipes. Co-founder and CEO Roger Dickey tells me “The turn-key service model — no one is doing it exactly like we are. Gigster democratizes software development.”

Here a Deloitte report on cognitive technologies.
Cognitive technologies in the technology sector
From science fiction vision to real-world value
The technology sector’s interest in cognitive technologies is reaching fever pitch. Here’s how some tech companies are using cognitive technologies to create innovative new products and services, pursue new markets, and even reimagine their businesses.
Computer vision: The ability of computers to identify objects, scenes, and activities in unconstrained (that is, naturalistic) visual environments
Machine learning: The ability of computer systems to improve their performance by exposure to data without the need to follow explicitly programmed instructions
Natural language processing (NLP): The ability of computers to work with text the way humans do—for instance, extracting meaning from text or even generating text that is readable, stylistically natural, and grammatically correct
Speech recognition: The ability to automatically and accurately transcribe human speech
Optimization: The ability to automate complex decisions and trade-offs about limited resources
Planning and scheduling: The ability to automatically devise a sequence of actions to meet goals and observe constraints
Rules-based systems: The ability to use databases of knowledge and rules to automate the process of making inferences about information
Robotics: The broader field of robotics is also embracing cognitive technologies to create robots that can work alongside, interact with, assist, or entertain people. Such robots can perform many different tasks in unpredictable environments, integrating cognitive technologies such as computer vision and automated planning with tiny, high-performance sensors, actuators, and hardware.

Now if self-driving cars sounds implausible - just add this next article to the capacity for cars to learn how to drive better. The important thing to remember is the speed of learning that arises when what one machine learns can be instantaneously transported to all similar machines. The system learns ever faster.
Scientists teach machines to learn like humans
A team of scientists has developed an algorithm that captures our learning abilities, enabling computers to recognize and draw simple visual concepts that are mostly indistinguishable from those created by humans. The work, which appears in the latest issue of the journal Science, marks a significant advance in the field—one that dramatically shortens the time it takes computers to 'learn' new concepts and broadens their application to more creative tasks.

"Our results show that by reverse engineering how people think about a problem, we can develop better algorithms," explains Brenden Lake, a Moore-Sloan Data Science Fellow at New York University and the paper's lead author. "Moreover, this work points to promising methods to narrow the gap for other machine learning tasks."

The paper's other authors were Ruslan Salakhutdinov, an assistant professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, and Joshua Tenenbaum, a professor at MIT in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines.

When humans are exposed to a new concept—such as new piece of kitchen equipment, a new dance move, or a new letter in an unfamiliar alphabet—they often need only a few examples to understand its make-up and recognize new instances. While machines can now replicate some pattern-recognition tasks previously done only by humans—ATMs reading the numbers written on a check, for instance—machines typically need to be given hundreds or thousands of examples to perform with similar accuracy.

This is a long article describing the recent developments of how neural networks have been learning to ‘see’. This is well worth the read to get some insight into the potential of computer vision and even human vision.
Inside Deep Dreams: How Google Made Its Computers Go Crazy
Why the neural net project creating wild visions has meaning for art, science, philosophy — and our view of reality
In the future, neural nets will be used to enhance and in some cases replace humans, whose limited bandwidth falls short of performing certain tasks. Consider the TSA agent who screens airline passengers. Besides eliminating human failings like fatigue or distraction, a neural net might evolve to recognize subtle patterns in objects (in luggage) and behavior (in passengers) that could match or exceed even the harrowing interrogations of an El Al airline agent.

Those are the utilitarian implications; there are also philosophical ones. Probing artificial neural networks is a unique way to sample an alternate means of perception. While ConvNets are engineered to mimic a biological process, we know what’s actually happening in these computational systems is quite different from our own wetware. So there’s a value in plumbing what is, essentially, an alternate means of perception. Take the earlier example that Chris Olah exposed with the NN regarding barbells as something with a human hand attached. Viewed in a certain light, this misunderstanding seems unremarkable. Of course, given a steady flow of images of weightlifters, a machine could come to believe that a human hand wrapped around a barbell might be part of a barbell. But it’s also an insight into a non-human intelligence — and perhaps even a rebuke to the limited way that we see barbells. Not to get all Kantian on you, but could it be that a barbell isn’t a barbell until a hand grasps it?

Perhaps the most puzzling question of all is not the differences between NNs and our own brains, but the similarities. Our instincts tell us that these computer creations can only go so far in matching the more intricate expressions of humanity. But then along comes another neural net experiment outside of Google that challenges even that perception: an artificial neural net that, on command, alters a photograph as if one of history’s greatest artists had created it.

This is a short but very worthwhile read for anyone interested in potential tipping point technology that has not been in the mainstream.
‘Autonomous tech’ will surge in 2016 — keep an eye on these 8 players
We’re about to see a surge in “autonomous devices” — devices that are aware of their environment, their state, and incoming data and that have the ability to learn and make decisions on their own.

By 2020, an estimated 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. Objects you’ve never even considered will become smart devices – dog collars, coffee makers, windows. That’s billions of devices and trillions of sensors, too many to manage through human manipulation or the stimulus-response commands of the past. It will become a practical necessity for devices to operate autonomously, and all the signs point to 2016 being the tipping point for the emergence of the Age of Autonomy.

I’ve been watching this space since 1994, when I first focused my attention on artificial intelligence, and the companies behind autonomous technology aren’t necessarily the big names you’re familiar with.

This is an excellent application of AI - I think we could be seeing this soon integrated with our email-calendar functions.
A company is applying artificial intelligence to solve a problem that every office struggles with - scheduling and organisation. How will they accomplish this for 400 million users? With a little help from one efficient personal assistant named Amy.

Amy isn’t a real person but a software agent that exists in the cloud and communicates with email contacts, helping set up meetings and appointments. The software is being developed by, which hopes to create something that seems virtually indistinguishable from a real human. They seem to be on their way to achieving their mission as Amy is often mistaken for a human, even receiving flowers, chocolates and drinks from grateful users to thank her for her work!

At the Virtual Assistant Summit in San Francisco next month, Dennis Mortensen, CEO and Founder of, will discuss why the company chose the AI path and how they have successfully humanized the AI. Dennis will also explain the idea of Invisible Software (you know there is technology applied, but you don’t see it) and how he and the team envision a future of intelligent agents' jobs in full - in contrast to apps that only empower humans.

Computer (tap on chest) - the ubiquitous Star Trek command - is approaching ever closer - personally I love saying ‘OK Google” - and it works most of the time - excellently. Here’s something from China - that may also hasten universal translation.
Baidu’s Deep-Learning System Rivals People at Speech Recognition
China’s dominant Internet company, Baidu, is developing powerful speech recognition for its voice interfaces.
China’s leading Internet-search company, Baidu, has developed a voice system that can recognize English and Mandarin speech better than people, in some cases.

The new system, called Deep Speech 2, is especially significant in how it relies entirely on machine learning for translation. Whereas older voice-recognition systems include many handcrafted components to aid audio processing and transcription, the Baidu system learned to recognize words from scratch, simply by listening to thousands of hours of transcribed audio.

The technology relies on a powerful technique known as deep learning, which involves training a very large multilayered virtual network of neurons to recognize patterns in vast quantities of data. The Baidu app for smartphones lets users search by voice, and also includes a voice-controlled personal assistant called Duer (see “Baidu’s Duer Joins the Personal Assistant Party”). Voice queries are more popular in China because it is more time-consuming to input text, and because some people do not know how to use Pinyin, the phonetic system for transcribing Mandarin using Latin characters.

“Historically, people viewed Chinese and English as two vastly different languages, and so there was a need to design very different features,” says Andrew Ng, a former Stanford professor and Google researcher, and now chief scientist for the Chinese company. “The learning algorithms are now so general that you can just learn.”

Another very brief short list of innovations - worth the view.
6 Innovations in medical technology that define the future to come
While we ramble on about consumer technology, like smartphones and tablets, real innovation in tech is happening elsewhere. A brief look at medical technology that has been developed, or is being currently researched, will open your eyes to the myriad possibilities that the future may have. There's everything from the nanomites that you saw in GI-Joe, to mind transfer, holograms and hearts that just won't stop beating.

Progress on domesticating DNA continues - here’s one more interesting development regarding bio-printing.
The process is a long and complex one, but the results are groundbreaking. Moya and her team began by printing tubes of cells that are capable of carrying out the basic function of human blood vessels — delivering essential nutrients — to the surrounding environment (also printed with biomaterials). Then, over time, capillaries begin to assemble themselves, and ultimately connect with the original tubes to continue the nutrient delivery process. The final result is a self-sustaining capillary system that functions as it would in the human body.

“If you take this approach of co-engineering with nature you allow biology to help create the finer resolution of the printed tissue,” Moya said. “We’re leveraging the body’s ability for self-directed growth, and you end up with something that is more true to physiology.” The production of these artificial blood vessels could be a life-saving factor for patients with malfunctioning blood vessels, who currently depend on tissue donors for treatment. But whereas the body sometimes rejects these foreign tissues, this 3D-printing method lets doctors “put the cells in an environment where they know, ‘I need to build blood vessels,’” says Moya.

Here is a great example of the contestability of scientific knowledge. Plus it may be coherent with what we are learning about horizontal gene transfers and endogenic symbiosis.
Mutation, Not Natural Selection, Drives Evolution
Molecular evolutionary biologist Masatoshi Nei says Darwin never proved natural selection is the driving force of evolution — because it isn't.
In a cavernous concert hall, before an eager audience of thousands, Masatoshi Nei is experiencing a technical glitch.

The biologist has just received Japan’s prestigious Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences, honoring his groundbreaking exploration of evolution on a molecular level. The eyes and ears of international media, diplomats and dignitaries, including Japan’s Princess Takamado, are trained on the soft-spoken 82-year-old as he delivers his acceptance speech.Or tries to. On a massive screen above him, a slide show advances and retreats randomly as Nei attempts to present techniques he pioneered that have revolutionized his field — and theories that challenge some of its most deeply rooted ideas.

“So sorry,” Nei tells his audience with an endearing chuckle. “I’m always pursuing the theory, not the practical.”

Practicality has been, however, a guiding force throughout Nei’s career, from his early agricultural research to his decades-long quest to move evolutionary biology away from subjective field observations and into objective, math-based analysis on a molecular level. In 1972, he devised a now widely used formula, Nei’s standard genetic distance, which compares key genes of different populations to estimate how long ago the groups diverged. In the early ’90s, Nei was a co-developer of free software that creates evolutionary trees based on genetic data. Two decades later, Molecular Evolutionary Genetics Analysis, or MEGA, remains one of the most widely used and cited computer programs in biology.

The progress being made in domesting DNA is transforming our view of the gene pool, it is more fluidly dynamic and open to editing that we have previously imagined.
The Social Life of Genes
Your DNA is not a blueprint. Day by day, week by week, your genes are in a conversation with your surroundings. Your neighbors, your family, your feelings of loneliness: They don't just get under your skin, they get into the control rooms of your cells. Inside the new social science of genetics.

The use of DNA to project the future of one’s face may change forensic criminal investigations or more. This is an 8 min section of the full video presentation.
Craig Venter: 'We can now predict what you look and sound like just from your DNA'
Join Dr. Venter, one of the leading scientists of the 21st century, to learn more about human longevity and the potential for extending the healthy, high-performance human life span. He will use examples to describe how linking phenotype, clinical data, and genome sequencing discoveries may be used to revolutionize medicine. He will further describe how to develop successful collaborative strategies to partner with industry, pharmaceutics, academia, government, insurance companies, and others to advance precision medicine.

In addition to his role at HLI, Dr. Venter is founder, chairman, and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), a not-for-profit research organization with approximately 250 scientists and staff dedicated to human, microbial, plant, synthetic, and environmental genomic research, and the exploration of social and ethical issues in genomics. Dr. Venter and his team at JCVI continue to blaze new trails in genomics. They have sequenced and analyzed hundreds of genomes, and have published numerous important papers covering such areas as environmental genomics, the first complete diploid human genome, and the groundbreaking advance in creating the first self-replicating bacterial cell constructed entirely with synthetic DNA. Dr. Venter is also co-founder, executive chairman, and co-chief scientist of Synthetic Genomics Inc. (SGI), a privately held company focused on developing products and solutions using synthetic genomics technologies.
The full presentation is here -

For anyone with children - here is an interesting site for online games.
Game design for social change.
We make games. We study how people play. We think games can change the world.  We think games are an art form. We believe games are capable of more.  We teach with games. We speak out with games. We help people through games. We brainstorm.  We research.  We play. We are Tiltfactor.

Can we make a more just and equitable world with games?
At Tiltfactor, we believe we can. The interdisciplinary innovation studio dedicated to designing & studying games for social impact, was founded and is led byDr. Mary Flanagan.

Tiltfactor uses its unique design methodology, Critical Play, to incorporate fundamental human values and psychological principles to promote learning, attitude change, and behavior change. Tiltfactor investigates the power of story, systems thinking, and empathy to craft powerful experiences that make a difference in people’s lives: by reducing stereotypes and biases, promoting wellness, harnessing new forms of knowledge, and increasing global awareness, Tiltfactor’s approach revolutionizes new technology design for a better world. We develop board games, card games, sports, urban games, and digital games for a variety of platforms, and publish both qualitative and quantitative research results from our controlled empirical studies.

And to teach ourselves and our kids about the complexity of living systems - here’s an interesting game
In ECO, players choose whether to run their civilization democratically or feudally and so on and get to compare results. Players use ever-changing data about the ecosystem to make wise economic and social choices. Develop too fast or in a wastrel way and you will rapidly deplete your resources.

For Fun
I love Alton Brown - and Christmas Shopping should be in full swing - enough said.
Alton Brown reviews Amazon's dumbest kitchen gadgets
Celebrity chef and Thyme Lord Alton Brown is no fan of "unitaskers" -- kitchen gadgets with only one purpose. But maybe these Amazon offerings aren't so bad.

Alton Brown is hitting the road in 2016 for the "Alton Brown Live: Eat Your Science Tour." Fans can expect new puppets, songs and potentially dangerous culinary demonstrations.


  1. John, an exceptional week and gain an exceptional summary.

    Your Friday Musing is Must Reading.

    I had captured most stories as they occurred, but missed a few. One in particular - Google "discovery" on optimizing work which happens to be bull's eye for a friend of mine, and which I instantly forwarded to. A "discovery" I am sure you have done yourself many times over as I have, over our years of team involvement, but which is nicely captured here in these 5 "principles".

    1. Many thanks Denis - I this these kind comments from you as very high praise. We live in times of Niagara Falls of information and knowledge - we must sample and hope for the best. :) Or maybe soon our filters will become more greatly enhanced with our personal Watson's to comb and summarize this accelerating inflation of knowledge :)