Thursday, March 31, 2016

Friday Thinking 1 April 2016

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.

Scientists confirm The Singularity has arrived - AI designs its next version! 

- ooops - misreading - I must be tired after that 31 day march.
John Verdon

This essay proposes a map for four domains of creative exploration—Science, Engineering, Design and Art—in an attempt to represent the antidisciplinary hypothesis: that knowledge can no longer be ascribed to, or produced within, disciplinary boundaries, but is entirely entangled. The goal is to establish a tentative, yet holistic, cartography of the interrelation between these domains, where one realm can incite ®evolution inside another; and where a single individual or project can reside in multiple dominions. Mostly, this is an invitation to question and to amend what is being proposed.
how can we become constant travelers within a border-free, and lingo-legible ‘intellectual Pangea?’
Neri Oxman - Age of Entanglement - Journal of Design and Science

the conclusion is absolutely clear: We need more truly breakthrough innovations in pedagogical approaches to higher education. The traditional classroom model does not work, and we have to rethink it.

The solution is to try to rethink education and to basically ask the question: How can we use technology to enable us [in the following ways]? Number one, personalization; two, a better way of engaging the learners; three, … balancing technology with the absolutely critical component of the human interaction between mentor and student? And four, how do we do it in a way that is scalable, so that you can actually achieve the objective?

Higher education has been a sleepy industry. It hasn’t been disrupted. It’s been able to carry on, as-is, for hundreds of years. And in the next 10 years — or even sooner — it’s all going to change.

Generation Z is used to devices, they are used to being entertained, and education has to respond to the new profile of this generation.
Ahead of the Class: Mapping Education’s Next Transformation

“Suppose I am a blind man, and I use a stick. I go tap, tap, tap. Where do I start? Is my mental system bounded at the handle of the stick? Is it bounded by my skin? Does it start halfway up the stick? Does it start at the tip of the stick? But these are nonsense questions. The stick is a pathway along which transforms of difference are being transmitted. The way to delineate the system is to draw the limiting line in such a way that you do not cut any of these pathways in ways which leave things inexplicable. If what you are trying to explain is a given piece of behavior, such as the locomotion of the blind man, then, for this purpose, you will need the street, the stick, the man; the street, the stick, and so on, round and round.”
Gregory Bateson - Steps to an Ecology of Mind, 1972, 459

This is a short article - with a very interesting info-graphic that is a useful summary of drivers of change and broad categories of knowledge/skill for the future of work.
10 Critical Skills You’ll Need to Succeed at Work in 2020
Which skills will be most in demand in the coming years? This infographic shows you how to set yourself up for success.
...they look nothing like the skills desired of workers in the industrial revolution, or even in the dot-com era.
Many factors and ingredients work together to create a recipe for success in work and in business. Perhaps, though, one of the most important ingredients to success is the ability to adapt as technology changes and new trends emerge in a fast-paced digital world.

A new infographic shows that six key factors are driving the change were seeing right right now: extreme longevity, the rise of smart machines and systems, our computational world, new media ecology, superstructures organizations and the globally connected world.

With all of these massive issues in play, what will the working landscape look like in five years? What skills will employees need to succeed?

This is a MUST VIEW 6 min video - re-imagining education using the blockchain. For anyone who is interested in lifelong learning in a context of accelerating change and innovation.
Own Your Achievements: Three Ways Blockchain Tech is Disrupting Education
Learning is Earning 2026
Blockchain technology is, indeed, setting foundations for transformational opportunities in education. At its core, blockchains are a way to organize and copy records, using software run on personal computers. Open systems like those behind the online currency Bitcoin allow anyone to post records or issue certifications. The result? Educational institutions or any learning group can issue certifications like edublocks, tying them to the organization and allowing the receiver to use them, alongside other certifications, in a personal learning portfolio.

This is a short 14 min video - a sort of biography of Elinor Ostrom. This really is worth the view -a vital demonstration of the need to embody diversity in our institutions. She has provided overwhelming evidence that there is no ‘tragedy of the commons’ when participant can talk -converse, create their own rules of self-governance & management and rules about changing the rules. Establishing mechanisms to gain common understanding, trust and human ingenuity enables self-organization. She helped transform the pseudo science of economics into the more appropriate multidisciplinary domain of political-social-economics.
Are ordinary people able to self-organize?
Elinor C. Ostrom, Nobel Laureate, 2009
Elinor C. Ostrom, the first female Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences, believed that people are perfectly capable of taking control of decisions that affect their lives, without external authorities imposing rules. Her extensive fieldwork focused on how people interact with ecosystems, such as forests, fisheries and irrigation systems, while maintaining the long-term sustainability of these resources.

Her findings proved how societies develop diverse management systems. Rather than imposing a singular ‘panacea’ to manage these multi-faceted interactions, she identified eight ‘design principles’ for stable, common pool resource management. She outlined these principles in her 1990 book, Governing the Commons : The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action, which showed how shared resources can be managed by local people.

Another important domain of self-organization that is being revealed as increasingly complex is the immune system. This is a longish article that is an excellent summary of both the broad scientific research and the use of metaphors to understand just what the immune system is and how it works. The discussion can also provide a useful framework for also understanding security. Worth the read.
Beyond cell wars
It is time to disarm the military metaphor of the body as a battleground, with immune cells as the first line of defence
Whenever I hear about my immune system: my days appear placid, yet under the surface my body seethes with threats and counter-measures.

This militarisation of biology troubles me. When my children were young, I worried about their immune systems: had they had the right jabs? Might their later teenage indifference to sleep or sensible food have undermined their resistance to, well, I don’t know, life? When my elderly parents were in and out of hospital, I worried that the MRSA ‘superbug’ would get them. In the end, each succumbed to old age. But both death certificates cite bronchial pneumonia – a cause of death often associated with being immunocompromised.

More positively, not to say smugly, I always find it hard not to credit my apparent inability to catch the flu to my having a slightly superior immune system. But that’s a luxury of a healthy life. If I’d grappled with one of a growing list of diseases – not just the obviously infectious ones, but everything from cancer and heart disease to irritable bowel syndrome and arthritis – then my hopes and fears about immune defence would intensify.

And I have another worry: is this actually a good way to understand my body and what it is doing? The imagery of war is hard to get away from.

The blockchain could be described as a distributed ledger that could function as a social-economic immune system for a range of functions including counterfeit-proof currency. This is an interesting discussion of a development in the blockchain and crypto-currency domain - although articles referencing Ethereum have been included in Friday Thinking for a few years.
Is Ethereum, a new virtual currency, the new Bitcoin 2.0?
In addition to the virtual currency, the software provides a way to create online markets and programmable transactions known as smart contracts.

Even as Bitcoin, riven by internal divisions, has struggled, a rival virtual currency — known as Ethereum — has soared in value, climbing 1,000 percent over the past three months.

Beyond the price spike, Ethereum is also attracting attention from giants in finance and technology, like JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft and IBM, which have described it as a sort of Bitcoin 2.0.

The system is complicated enough that even people who know it well have trouble describing it in plain English. But one application in development would let farmers put their produce up for sale directly to consumers and take payment directly from consumers. There are dozens of functioning applications built on Ethereum, enabling new ways ways to manage and pay for electricity, sports bets and even Ponzi schemes.

While this article seems focused on Tesla - you have to include other players like Google and the accelerating world of devices that are manifesting in-and-as the digital environment - including the Internet-of-Things. We need not only ‘world class fiber’ but we need ubiquitous digital infrastructure as a public commons.
The Tesla Dividend: Better Internet Access
Elon Musk’s newest car doesn’t just run on electricity — it needs a world class fiber network
I’m looking forward to Tesla’s release of its mass-market Model 3 electric car next week. Owners love their beautiful Teslas, and this one will reportedly cost $35,000 before federal and state tax credits, meaning the net price could be less than the cost of an average American car. But my pulse rate is higher not because of the car itself, or even its price tag. I’m excited because of what’s inside: a battery that can cost-effectively store enough energy to allow for hundreds of miles of travel. And an operating system that needs constant upgrades.

Tesla Motor’s CEO Elon Musk says that lowering the cost of delivering a kilowatt hour to every car is the key to lowering the cost of electric cars. With the gigantic Tesla Gigafactory in Nevada grinding away producing batteries — 5.5 million square feet! 150 acres under one roof! — he is convinced he’ll be able to achieve the economies of scale that make the Tesla batteries truly cheap and the Model 3 an accessible vehicle for many Americans. His goal: sell half a million electric vehicles by 2020. Cheaper battery, cheaper car: mass market adoption.

If you’re a Tesla follower or a Musk fan, you might have heard this already. But here’s what you haven’t heard: For all those cars to do their jobs, we’re going to need fiber high-speed Internet access connections deep into every neighborhood in the country.

It could be that mass entertainment has become formulaic - both in literary, film/TV, and music media - if that’s the case we should be welcoming of entertainment that brings of the comfort of the familiar routine. But perhaps the automation of creative work looms.
….except from the novel to give you an idea as to what human contestants were up against:
“I writhed with joy, which I experienced for the first time, and kept writing with excitement.
“The day a computer wrote a novel. The computer, placing priority on the pursuit of its own joy, stopped working for humans.”
A Japanese AI Wrote a Novel, Almost Wins Literary Award
I had thought my job was safe from automation--a computer couldn't possibly replicate the complex creativity of human language in writing or piece together a coherent story. I may have been wrong. Authors beware, because an AI-written novel just made it past the first round of screening for a national literary prize in Japan.

The novel this program co-authored is titled, The Day A Computer Writes A Novel. It was entered into a writing contest for the Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award. The contest has been open to non-human applicants in years prior, however, this was the first year the award committee received submissions from an AI. Out of the 1,450 submissions, 11 were at least partially written by a program.

Here’s another breakthrough in the process of domesticating DNA.
Unlocking the secrets of gene expression: Scientists make major advance in understanding a basic process of life
Using cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) scientist Eva Nogales and her team have made a significant breakthrough in our understanding of how our molecular machinery finds the right DNA to copy, showing with unprecedented detail the role of a powerhouse transcription factor known as TFIID.

This finding is important as it paves the way for scientists to understand and treat a host of malignancies. "Understanding this regulatory process in the cell is the only way to manipulate it or fix it when it goes bad," said Nogales. "Gene expression is at the heart of many essential biological processes, from embryonic development to cancer. One day we'll be able to manipulate these fundamental mechanisms, either to correct for expression of genes that should or should not be present or to take care of malignant states where the process has gone out of control."

Their study has been published in the journal Nature in an article titled, "Structure of promoter-bound TFIID and insight into human PIC assembly." The lead author is Robert Louder, a biophysics graduate student in Nogales' lab, and other authors are Yuan He, José Ramón López-Blanco, Jie Fang, and Pablo Chacón.

One way to view our domestication of DNA is the unlocking the knowledge contained in the gene pool. It has been argued that the individual is not the unit of evolutionary survival rather the unit is ‘Species-in-Environment’. This view lets us understand that it is the whole gene pool that is our common wealth. That each individual-in-environment is included in each species-in-environment. That the relationship between changing environmental conditions directly influences what the gene pool can manifest. Thus each species is perceivable as an instantiation of the many possibilities inherent within ‘momentary’ environmental conditions. This meas that the ‘common wealth’ of the gene pool is more than what can be seen in current or even past manifestations - the wealth lies in all of the vast possibilities of combination and manifestation inherent in the gene pool.
This article suggests that ‘dinosaur-hood’ remains latent in the gene pool.
Scientists have grown 'dinosaur legs' on a chicken for the first time
Until very recently, one of the biggest myths in science was that all dinosaurs have been extinct for the past 65 million years. But thanks to new fossil discoveries that filled in our knowledge about avian dinosaurs, we now know that only some dinosaurs went extinct following an asteroid collision with Earth - others survived and gave rise to the birds we live with today.

To figure out how this evolution occurred, researchers in Chile have manipulated the genes of regular chickens so they develop tubular, dinosaur-like fibulas on their lower legs - one of the two long, spine-like bones you’ll find in a drumstick.

This isn't the first time dinosaur traits have been 'recreated' in modern chickens.Last year, the same team achieved the growth of dinosaur-like feet on their chickens, and a separate team in the US managed to grow a dinosaur-like 'beak' on its chicken embryos.

One more step toward a stem-cell therapy many of us are looking forward to - or will be happy to have available.
Towards a Stem Cell Treatment for Osteoporosis
Researchers have demonstrated a successful and fairly straightforward stem cell therapy for osteoporosis in mice, though it remains a question mark as to exactly how it works under the hood. Osteoporosis is the name given to the age-related loss of bone mass and strength, with the primary proximate cause being a growing imbalance between the activities of osteoblasts that deposit bone and osteoclasts that absorb it. There are other factors involved, such as persistent cross-linking that makes the molecular structure of bone more fragile, but so far the best results in the laboratory have arisen from increasing osteoblast activity, reducing osteoclast activity, or both in conjunction.

Here’s a longish but great article on the question of repeatability in evolution - contingency or convergence?
If the World Began Again, Would Life as We Know It Exist?
Experiments in evolution are exploring what would happen if we rewound the tape of life.
Both scholars recognized that convergence and contingency exist in evolution. Their debate instead revolved around how repeatable or unique key adaptations, like human intelligence, are. Meanwhile, other biologists have taken up the puzzle, and shown how convergence and contingency interact. Understanding the interplay of these two forces could reveal whether every living thing is the result of a several-billion-year-long chain of lucky chances, or whether we all—salamanders and humans alike—are as inevitable as death and taxes.

So far, the biggest shortcoming in all of the attempts to answer the “tape of life” question is that biologists can only draw conclusions based on just one biosphere—the Earth’s. An encounter with extra-terrestrial life would undoubtedly tell us more. Even though alien organisms may not have DNA, they’d likely show similar patterns of evolution. They would need some material that would be passed down to their descendants, which would guide the development of organisms and change over time. As Lenski says, “What’s true for E. coli is also true for some microbe anywhere in the universe.”

Therefore, the same interactions between convergence and contingency might play out on other planets. And if extraterrestrial life faces similar evolutionary pressures to life on Earth, future humans may discover aliens that have convergently evolved an intelligence like ours. On the other hand, if contingent events build on one another, driving the development of life down unique paths as Gould suggested, extra-terrestrial life may be extraordinarily strange.

So will AI evolve? Will our personal AI-ssistants become like digital mitochondria? Perhaps we should ask some actuarial expert?
MIT Spinout Insurify Raises $2 Million To Replace Human Insurance Agents With A Robot
Insurify, a startup out of MIT, today announced the launch of Evia (Expert Virtual Insurance Agent), an artificially intelligent virtual insurance agent that aims to find you better car insurance using a photo of your license plate.

The company recently pulled in $2 million in seed from Rationalwave Capital Partners to create EVIA and launch its robo-agent platform.

“We barely have time to talk to our friends on the phone, nevermind insurance agents. Yet buying insurance is still as bad as buying an airline ticket was 15 years ago, often requiring 40 minutes on the phone with an agent,” Insurify CEO Snejina Zacharia told TechCrunch about why she started the business.

Here is a must view 7 min video about the future of the ‘control center’ in the digital environment. While this video focuses on drone marine operations - it’s pretty easy to imagine this to any form of operational environment.
Rolls-Royce future shore control centre
Rolls-Royce presents a vision of a future land-based control centre in which a small crew of 7 to 14 people monitor and control a fleet of remote controlled and autonomous vessels across the world. The crew uses interactive smart screens, voice recognition systems, holograms and surveillance drones to monitor what is happening both on board and around the ship.

Remote and autonomous ships are one of three elements of the company’s innovative Ship Intelligence strategy, which will enable customers to transform their marine businesses by harnessing the power of big data.

The research was undertaken by VTT and University of Tampere research centre TAUCHI (Tampere Unit for Computer Human Interaction) in collaboration with Rolls-Royce. It explored the lessons learned from other industries where remote operation is commonplace, such as aviation, energy, defence, and space exploration.

Along with new form of AI-ssistants wil come new form of institutional digital platforms. The Bitcoin may be a fad - but the blockchain continues to expand it domain of interests.
IBM and Microsoft Will Let You Roll Your Own Blockchain
THEY CALL IT the Hyperledger. And it can be yours.
In late December, several big-name companies from across both the tech and financial industries—including IBM, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and the London Stock Exchange—unveiled a new open source software project based on the blockchain, the global online ledger that underpins the bitcoin digital currency. The project aims to build blockchain-like software that can more efficiently, reliably, and openly track the exchange of financial assets, including stocks, bonds, futures, houses, and car titles. And considering the names involved—particularly the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, or DTCC, which oversees Wall Street’s stock settlement system—it’s an enormously significant undertaking.

Unlike the blockchain itself, the Hyperledger software isn’t battle-tested. In fact, it’s still being built. But on Tuesday, IBM unveiled a new cloud computing service that lets anyone kick the proverbial tires on this fledgling technology. “Anyone who signs up can use it,” says Arvind Krishna, the IBM Research director who is perhaps the man most responsible for the creation of the Hyperledger project, explains that although you’ll have to pay to spin up the software on a large number of IBM cloud machines, the service is free for use on a few computers.

Last year, researchers under Krishna began building an alternative to the blockchain. And after Krishna and others helped bootstrap the Hyperledger project—which operates under the aegis of the not-for-profit Linux Foundation—IBM donated its code to this open source effort. Others have donated additional code, but it appears that IBM’s contribution will serve as the foundation of the project.

May who have offered critique of the emerging Internet of Things talk about energy requirements - here’s a development that can contribute to the phase transition in energy.
Passive Wi-Fi can for the first time transmit Wi-Fi signals at bit rates of up to 11 megabits per second that can be decoded on any of the billions of devices with Wi-Fi connectivity. These speeds are lower than the maximum Wi-Fi speeds but 11 times higher than Bluetooth.
Aside from saving battery life on today’s devices, wireless communication that uses almost no power will help enable an “Internet of Things” reality where household devices and wearable sensors can communicate using Wi-Fi without worrying about power.
The technology could enable entirely new types of communication that haven’t been possible because energy demands have outstripped available power supplies. It could also simplify our data-intensive worlds.
UW engineers achieve Wi-Fi at 10,000 times lower power
The upside of Wi-Fi is that it’s everywhere – invisibly connecting laptops to printers, allowing smartphones to make calls or stream movies without cell service, and letting online gamers battle it out.

The downside is that using Wi-Fi consumes a significant amount of energy, draining the batteries on all those connected devices.

Now, a team of University of Washington computer scientists and electrical engineers has demonstrated that it’s possible to generate Wi-Fi transmissions using 10,000 times less power than conventional methods.

The new Passive Wi-Fi system also consumes 1,000 times less power than existing energy-efficient wireless communication platforms, such as Bluetooth Low Energy and Zigbee. A paper describing those results will be presented in March at the 13th USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation.
The technology has also been named one of the 10 breakthrough technologies of 2016 by MIT Technology Review.

With an accelerating increase in devices coming online how will all that traffic be managed? This is also another argument for understanding the digital environment as a public commons.
DARPA wants machine learning embedded into devices to collaboratively share wireless spectrum
The $2 million DARPA Spectrum Collaboration Challenge (SC2) is about getting the billions to trillions of wireless devices to efficiently share the wireless spectrum.

Teams will be rewarded for developing smart systems that collaboratively, rather than competitively,adapt in real time to today’s fast-changing, congested spectrum environment—redefining the conventional spectrum management roles of humans and machines in order to maximize the flow of radio frequency (RF) signals. DARPA officials unveiled the new Challenge before some 8000 engineers and communications professionals gathered in Las Vegas at the International Wireless Communications Expo (IWCE).

The primary goal of SC2 is to imbue radios with advanced machine-learning capabilities so they can collectively develop strategies that optimize use of the wireless spectrum in ways not possible with today’s intrinsically inefficient approach of pre-allocating exclusive access to designated frequencies. The challenge is expected to both take advantage of recent significant progress in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning and also spur new developments in those research domains, with potential applications in other fields where collaborative decision-making is critical.

“DARPA Challenges have traditionally rewarded teams that dominate their competitors, but when it comes to making the most of the electromagnetic spectrum, the team that shares most intelligently is going to win,” said SC2 program manager Paul Tilghman of DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO). “We want to radically accelerate the development of machine-learning technologies and strategies that will allow on-the-fly sharing of spectrum at machine timescales.”

On the energy front - evidence of the phase transition in energy-geo-politics. Even if the price of oil increases - it is unlikely to inspire increases in investment oil extraction - given the zero-marginal cost of renewable energy (once the infrastructure if built).
Developing world overtakes West in renewables investments
A U.N.-backed report says global investments in solar, wind and other sources of renewable energy reached a record $286 billion last year. For the first time the developing world accounted for the majority.

The United Nations Environment Program on Thursday said renewable investments in developing countries jumped 19 percent to $156 billion in 2015, with $103 billion in China alone.

U.S. investments rose 19 percent to $44 billion but, overall, investments in developed countries fell 8 percent to $130 billion.

Despite higher investments, renewables accounted for only one-tenth of global power generation, most of which comes from coal and natural gas.

This is an interesting study of the potential solar energy obtainable from rooftop installation of solar panels in the US.
Solar rooftops could generate much more energy than previously estimated, says NREL
Analysts at the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have used detailed light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data for 128 cities nationwide, along with improved data analysis methods and simulation tools, to update its estimate of total U.S. technical potential for rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems. The analysis reveals a technical potential of 1,118 gigawatts (GW) of capacity and 1,432 terawatt-hours (TWh) of annual energy generation, equivalent to 39 percent of the nation’s electricity sales.

This current estimate is significantly greater than that of a previous NREL analysis, which estimated 664 GW of installed capacity and 800 TWh of annual energy generation. Analysts attribute the new findings to increases in module power density, improved estimation of building suitability, higher estimates of the total number of buildings, and improvements in PV performance simulation tools.

The analysis appears in “Rooftop Solar Photovoltaic Technical Potential in the United States: A Detailed Assessment.” The report quantifies the technical potential for rooftop PV in the United States, which is an estimate of how much energy could be generated if PV systems were installed on all suitable roof areas.

“It is important to note that this report only estimates the potential from existing, suitable rooftops, and does not consider the immense potential of ground-mounted PV,” said Margolis. “Actual generation from PV in urban areas could exceed these estimates by installing systems on less suitable roof space, by mounting PV on canopies over open spaces such as parking lots, or by integrating PV into building facades. Further, the results are sensitive to assumptions about module performance, which are expected to continue improving over time.”

The quandary - low oil prices make expensive oil not profitable - nudging investor dollars to near-zero marginal cost renewable energy technology. High oil prices creates increasing demand for near-zero marginal cost renewable energy. And of course the context is global warming and the need to reduce our carbon footprint.
Rockefeller Family Fund hits Exxon, divests from fossil fuels
The Rockefeller Family Fund said on Wednesday it would divest from fossil fuels as quickly as possible and "eliminate holdings" of Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), saying the oil company associated with the family fortune has misled the public about climate change risks.

Though only a sliver of the endowment's modest $130 million in assets is invested in fossil fuels, the move is notable because a century ago John D. Rockefeller Sr. made a fortune running Standard Oil, a precursor to Exxon Mobil. The charity said it would also divest from coal and Canadian oil sands.

Given the threat posed to the survival of human and natural ecosystems, "there is no sane rationale for companies to continue to explore for new sources of hydrocarbons," the Rockefeller Family Fund said.

Here’s another breakthrough in the energy domain.
This research united engineers, chemists, materials scientists, mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists across three countries.
Saving sunshine for a rainy day: New catalyst offers efficient storage of green energy
This device efficiently splits water into its component elements, hydrogen and oxygen, storing energy as H2. The key is a new catalyst based on abundant metals tungsten, iron and cobalt, that is three times more efficient than the current state-of-the-art.

Now, a group of researchers led by Professor Ted Sargent at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering may have a solution inspired by nature.
The team has designed the most efficient catalyst for storing energy in chemical form, by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, just like plants do during photosynthesis. Oxygen is released harmlessly into the atmosphere, and hydrogen, as H2, can be converted back into energy using hydrogen fuel cells.

This new catalyst facilitates the oxygen-evolution portion of the chemical reaction, making the conversion from H2O into O2 and H2 more energy-efficient than ever before. The intrinsic efficiency of the new catalyst material is over three times more efficient than the best state-of-the-art catalyst.

This is a great 2 min video explaining a  new approach to industrial scale 3D printing - one that can speed up the fabrication process significantly. One can imagine a concept of swarm 3D printing. Worth the view.
Autodesk’s Project Escher
Autodesk’s Project Escher now makes it possible to print large scale 3D parts with unprecedented speed and detail. Through software, control and hardware integration Project Escher enables a fundamentally new class of 3D printer.

For Fun or Interest
This may be of interest to any visual artists.
Here’s Where To Download OpenToonz, Studio Ghibli’s Free Animation Software
OpenToonz, the open source version of the Toonz animation software used by Studio Ghibli, was released to the public this weekend. If you want to get your hands on the software, OpenToonz can be officially downloaded at

The robust 2D animation software suite, which has also been used in the production of TV series like Steven Universe and Futurama and theatrical features including Anastasia and Balto, was made open source through a partnership between Italian developer Digital Video and Japanese company Dwango. Its release is a game changer for 2D animation production that could rewrite the future of the art form, possibly leading to a major increase in drawn animation production, while forcing software developers like Adobe and Toonboom to scramble and find ways to distinguish their 2D animation software from a powerful, free alternative.

This may be even more fun than BattleBots. There are 4 short fun videos included.
June 2016: America and Japan to face off in giant robot combat
America has challenged Japan to the world's first intercontinental giant robot fight in 2016. Megabot vs. Kuratas to the mechanical death.
"You have a giant robot, we have a giant robot – we have a duty to the science fiction lovers of this world to fight them to the death." America laid down the challenge; Japan has accepted. In one year's time, the two countries will face off on neutral soil for the world's first international giant robot dual. Two 15-foot-tall steel gundam suits with one or two pilots inside, facing each other in battle. There will be guns, there will be giant swinging steel fists, and the fight won't be over until one has pounded the other into scrap. Can you hear that sound? It's the gentle foaming of a million anime fans.

If the full-contact high-tech weapons fighting of Unified Weapons Master isn't enough for you, giant robot battles might tickle your fancy.

America's Megabots threw down the challenge to Japan's Suidobashi a few days ago...
So what do the two competitors look like at this stage? Well, the Megabot is 15 feet tall and 12,000 pounds, and Suidobashi's Kuratas is around 13 feet and 9,000 pounds. The Megabot moves around on a pair of tank-style tracks, where the Kuratas is faster and lighter, and gets around on a set of 4 wheels, on wide extending legs that can raise the robot up to get around quickly.

The Megabot requires two pilots, one driver and one gunner to operate its huge arm-mounted paintball cannons, which fire oversized paintballs at over 120 miles per hour, enough to dent car panels.