Thursday, September 22, 2016

Friday Thinking 23 Sept. 2016

Hello all – Friday Thinking is a humble curation of my foraging in the digital environment. My purpose is to pick interesting pieces, based on my own curiosity (and the curiosity of the many interesting people I follow), about developments in some key domains (work, organization, social-economy, intelligence, domestication of DNA, energy, etc.)  that suggest we are in the midst of a change in the conditions of change - a phase-transition. That tomorrow will be radically unlike yesterday.

Many thanks to those who enjoy this.
In the 21st Century curiosity will SKILL the cat.
Jobs are dying - work is just beginning.

“Be careful what you ‘insta-google-tweet-face’”
Woody Harrelson - Triple 9

Content
Quotes

Articles
Users Really Do Plug in USB Drives They Find



Every second of everyday, people around the world are capturing their memories through photos and videos. Humankind has already taken trillions of photos and will take another trillion this year alone.

Google Photos gives you a single, private place to keep a lifetime of memories, and access them from any device. They’re automatically backed up and synced, so you can have peace of mind that your photos are safe, available across all your devices.

And when we say a lifetime of memories, we really mean it. With Google Photos, you can now backup and store unlimited, high-quality photos and videos, for free. We maintain the original resolution up to 16MP for photos, and 1080p high-definition for videos, and store compressed versions of the photos and videos in beautiful, print-quality resolution.

Is that information in photos siloed, or is that going to be available to enhance my Google experience in other products?
The information gleaned from analyzing these photos does not travel outside of this product — not today. But if I thought we could return immense value to the users based on this data I’m sure we would consider doing that. For instance, if it were possible for Google Photos to figure out that I have a Tesla, and Tesla wanted to alert me to a recall, that would be a service that we would consider offering, with appropriate controls and disclosure to the user. Google Now is a great example. When I’m late for a flight and I get a Google Now notification that my flight has been delayed I can chill out and take an extra hour, breathe deep.

Picture this: A fresh approach to Photos




“…if instead of having mass education as we now have, must have, with a curriculum, once we have outlets, computer outlets in every home, each of them hooked up to enormous libraries where anyone can ask any question and be given answers…then you ask, and you can find out, and you can follow it up, and you can do it in your own home, at your own speed, in your own direction, in your own time, then everyone will enjoy learning.

Nowadays, what people call learning is forced on you and everyone is forced to learn the same thing on the same day at the same speed in class. And everyone is different. For some it goes too fast, for some too slow, for some in the wrong direction. But give them a chance in addition to school — I don’t say we abolish school, but in addition to school — to follow up their own bent from the start…”

—Isaac Asimov, Interview with Bill Moyers, PBS, 1988




This is a fascinating 40 min conversation between Joi Ito an activist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, Professor, and Director of the MIT Media Lab, Seth Godin a writer and marketer. The discussion is very wide but provides lots of interesting insight in the future of media. Well worth the view.

Conversation with Seth Godin

A conversation about communications, books, publishing, business, live and everything.

One of the important themes for the emerging digital environment and the 21st Century is the need to re-imagine everything - especially how we design our cities and communities.
Seoul .. a megacity that has avoided sprawl.... When the mayor decided to dismantle the eight-lane highway that used to run through the centre of the city, he said: “Seoul is for people, not cars.”
An alternative road was not built – resulting in an increase in the number of people using mass transit which, in turn, made mass transit financially viable. Building more highways for cars, then introducing trains and buses in the hope that they will be financially viable, simply does not work (the greater Johannesburg region is learning that lesson now).

The curse of urban sprawl: how cities grow, and why this has to change

The total area covered by the world’s cities is set to triple in the next 40 years – eating up farmland and threatening the planet’s sustainability. Ahead of the latest Urban Age conference, Mark Swilling says it is time to stop the sprawl
I have just spent two days in Barcelona, one of the most densely populated urban settlements in the world. There are 103 road intersections per sq km – high compared to Brasilia’s 41 or Shanghai’s Pudong area, which has only 17. Yet despite these high densities, residents of Barcelona will tell you how profoundly liveable their city is.

Visitors are charmed by the pedestrianised streets that thread their way through a maze of buildings constructed over the centuries – between four and seven storeys high, on narrow streets leading to piazzas where people sit at cafe tables or under shady trees. Many residents walk or cycle to work, and public transport functions very well.

For the first time in human history, most of us live in urban settlements – from megacities of 10-20 million, of which there were 28 in 2014, to medium-sized cities of 1-5 million (417 in 2014), and smaller settlements (525 of between 500,000 and one million people in 2014). Looking ahead, the biggest growth will occur not in megacities but these small- and medium-sized cities.


This is a longish piece - interesting as another signal to a looming transformation of political-economies. Definitely worth the read and consideration.
The Square Deal and subsequent progressive institutional reforms of the 20th century, including particularly but by no means only the New Deal, were fashioned out of this context to support the creation of a large middle class through the establishment and diffusion of basic opportunity and security in such areas as education, infrastructure, pensions, housing, unemployment insurance, occupational safety and health.
There is a contradiction at the heart of our capital markets, in which the long-term retirement and college savings of middle class American families are systematically transformed into short-term trading behaviour that distorts corporate decision making in ways that undercut their very own job security and productivity by undermining the long-term value creation and competitiveness of the companies in which they work.

A 21st Century Square Deal

This practical three-part blueprint will restore U.S. growth and opportunity.
The insurgent candidacies of both Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in this year’s presidential campaigns exposed a deep fault line in American economic policy: too few voters today have confidence in the country’s economic stewardship over the past generation.

In fact, Americans – by virtue of their support for Sanders and Trump – have issued a direct intellectual challenge to the market-friendly, internationally-open policy model of the past several decades. As wages have stagnated, inequality has grown and technological change and globalization have continued to disrupt Americans’ lives, more people are demanding an economy that generates both wider social participation and broader distribution of its benefits.

Unfortunately, the question of how we can improve not only the quantity of economic growth but its quality – i.e., its bottom-line payoff to society in the form of sustained progress in median living standards – has not been the top focus of U.S. economic policy for a very long time. But if policymakers are serious about restoring opportunity and upward mobility to the vast number of Americans who’ve felt left behind by the seismic shifts in our national and global economy, the task of structural economic reform to address this challenge must become absolutely paramount.


A new economic paradigm is inevitable - for many reasons. What we need desperately is a wider conversation about what ‘money really is’, what it does - what it can do - what we really want it to do. Here’s a 17 min TED Talk.

The future of money

What happens when the way we buy, sell and pay for things changes, perhaps even removing the need for banks or currency exchange bureaus? That's the radical promise of a world powered by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. We're not there yet, but in this sparky talk, digital currency researcher Neha Narula describes the collective fiction of money — and paints a picture of a very different looking future.

Here is a 30 min conversation with Neha Narula and Joi Ito.

Conversation with Neha Narula

Talking about the MIT Media Lab Digital Currency Initiative and other things with Neha Narula, the Research Director of the DCI.


I remember discussing the plausibility of how Augmented Reality - Better described as the emergence of ‘Mixed Reality’ (MR) can transform our aesthetic experiences of our urban environment. New art forms, new possibilities of shaping streetscapes and well as new forms of marketing (if we let them). This capability may be only a decade away - remember the smartphone isn’t even a decade old yet - and by 2020 it’s very likely that everyone in the world over 16 will own one.

Augmented Reality Art Imagines What Could Be Seattle’s Weird, Bleak Future

Artist envisions mutant flowers and drone-like seaweed that may one day take over a post-climate change Seattle
Imagine Seattle street signs strewn with kelp. Or mutated flowers threatening pedestrians near Lake Union with their sharp, sharp teeth. Those visions sound scary, but they could be possible in the Seattle of tomorrow. So warns Gardens of the Anthropocene. As Brendan Kiley reports for The Seattle Times, the art exhibition now on view at the Seattle Art Museum is ​a virtual reality project that explores a doom-laden future brought on by climate change​.

But don’t expect to see Gardens of the Anthropocene in the galleries or even in the museum's Olympic Sculpture Park: It’s only viewable via an app overlay designed by augmented reality artist Tamiko Thiel. Think of it as a post-apocalyptic Pok√©mon Go—a virtual world that shows just how creepy climate change could be for the Pacific Northwest.

The exhibition makes use of Layar, a free app that lets users create augmented reality landscapes. When viewed on a phone or tablet, Thiel’s vision becomes “reality” when it's projected over the existing landscape. Suddenly, the placid, park-like atmosphere morphs into one that’s infinitely more unsettling—filled with mutant plants and landscapes gone awry with the help of rising water, higher temperatures and natural selection run wild.


This is still a dream - but given the trajectory - once developed will quickly add to our ability to handle the cosmic scale data from ubiquitous sensors.
“Even as fast as machine learning and artificial intelligence are moving today, the software still generally does not have control over the sensors that give these tools access to the physical world,” Lewis added. “With ReImagine, we would be giving machine-learning and image processing algorithms the ability to change or decide what type of sensor data to collect.”

Importantly, he added, as with eyes and brains, the information would flow both ways: the sensors would inform the algorithms and the algorithms would affect the sensors. Although defense applications are foremost on his mind, Lewis also envisions commercial spinoffs. Smart phones of the future could have camera sensors that do far more than merely take pictures and video footage, their functions limited only by the imaginations of a new generation of app developers, he suggested.

DARPA seeks smart pixels with thousands of transistors combined with machine learning to provide the most useful view from many sensors

This could mean selecting between different thermal (infrared) emissions or different resolutions or frame rates, or even collecting 3-D LIDAR data for mapping and other jobs that increase situational awareness. The camera ultimately would rely on machine learning to autonomously take notice of what is happening in its field of view and reconfigure the imaging sensor based on the context of the situation.

The future sensor Lewis has in mind would even be able to perform many of these functions simultaneously because different patches of the sensor’s carpet of pixels could be reconfigured by way of software to work in different imaging modes. That same reconfigurability should enable the same sensor to toggle between different sensor modes from one lightning-quick frame to the next. No single camera can do that now.

A primary driver here, according to Lewis, who works in DARPA’s Microsystems Technology Office (MTO), is the shrinking size and cost of militarily important platforms that are finding roles in locations that span from orbit to the seas.


And will we hit a bandwidth wall? This is not likely unless we let incumbents continue to hold us hostage to their rent-seeking.

Nokia Reaches 1Tbps Data Transfer Speed, 1,000 Times Faster Than Google Fiber

Nokia may have departed from the mobile market but many of us are unaware of the true potential of the Finnish corporation. Nokia’s acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent last year also welcomed Bell Labs (now Nokia Bell Labs) to become a part of the Nokia family. Bell Labs was founded in 1925 by Alexander Graham Bell who invented the first working telephone.

Nokia Bell Labs, along with the Techincal University of Munich and Deutsche Telkom T-Labs, has been working on a network speed enhancement method. Known as Probabilistic Constellation Shaping (PCS), the technique, which won the Bell Labs Prize, can enable data transmission over a fiber connection at 1 terabit per second.

As of now, Google’s 1Gbps fiber network offers the best speeds to the home users but the new technology, if launched, will definitely raise the bar.


There is a lot more involved in creating a significant social network platform than the technology - but technology is important - I’m not sure if this is going to work - there have been a number of efforts to create alternative to existing networks like Facebook and Twitter. A key problem is the hostage capital that these platform create with our own social networks. But I think this is an effort worth tracking. This is worth the read.
If all this is as it appears, we could be closer than ever to “fundamentally redesigning the way the internet works”, as Synereo’s company slogan goes. One of the implications would be an Internet that can’t be taken down, censored or hacked by any entity - public or private - and which would redistribute the power and influence that come with storing and processing internet activity, back to the hands of users

The (re-)Birth of the World Computer

The cyber-punk community, and cryptography enthusiasts around the world have been head over feet lately for an innocent looking app that, according to the rumors, might just change the internet and everything you know about it. A small Israeli startup, called Synereo, recently announced the alpha launch of its decentralized Social Network, and raised a great deal of curiosity among the tech savvy and the slightly nerdy.

A decentralized Social-Network does essentially everything that Facebook and Twitter do, except that it doesn’t store or process the information necessary for the performance of the network in a centralized location, hence decentralized. This means that the Synereo network operates entirely without central servers or data centers. Instead, the network compensates users for contributions of storage and computation power when they support the distributed network with their personal computers or mobile devices.

Bitcoin was, and is, one of these attempts. Its underlying technology - The Blockchain (with capital B) - is what enables Bitcoin owners to perform transactions without clearing houses and third parties involved. This technology was later picked up by a 19 year old prodigy named Vitalik Buterin, founding father of the Ethereum project. Vitalik and his associates figured out a way to co-opt the Blockchain’s abilities for much more complicated transactions, effectively transforming it into a decentralized “World Computer”, composed of myriads of personal devices connected to it.

Recently Synereo disclosed the underlying technology, enabling its Social Network to function, and it soon became clear that something very interesting is going on. Labeled RChain, or simply Blockchain 2.0, the company announced a Technology Stack, seemingly solving Blockchain’s biggest drawbacks.

Synereo describes RChain as a “concurrent” and“sharded” Blockchain. “Sharded” refers to the subdivision of the Blockchain into composable parts, which interlock to a unified whole, but do not need to be computed all at once (as it is the case with the Bitcoin Blockchain). Concurrent means that this subdivision enables different processes to run in parallel without them interfering with each other. Synereo promises that as a result, RChain is about to solve most of the well known problems of classical Blockchains, troubling the entire industry for years, while enabling Blockchain based systems to be much faster, infinitely scalable and cheaper to maintain.


The acceleration in the progress of our knowledge of ourselves and life’s genetics is very hard to grasp - where we were in 2000 - where we are now - where we will be in 2032. Is impossible to predict and perhaps even imagine. The extent that horizontal and endogenetic gene transfer produces a unimaginable flow within the gene pool - may make our current attempts to domesticate DNA primitive.
"In 2013, we discovered that different neurons within the same brain have various complements of DNA, suggesting that they function slightly differently from each other even within the same person," says the study's senior investigator Rusty Gage, a professor in Salk's Laboratory of Genetics and holder of the Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases. "This recent study reveals a new and surprising form of variation that will help us understand the role of L1s, not only in healthy brains but in those affected by schizophrenia and autism."

Brain's stunning genomic diversity revealed

Half of our healthy neurons contain huge insertions or deletions in DNA, new research indicates. The findings may help explain what makes us each unique -- why even identical twins can be so different from one another, for example -- and how jumping genes can go awry and cause disease.
Now researchers at the Salk Institute and their collaborators have shown that one source of this variation -- called long interspersed nuclear elements or L1s -- are present in 44 to 63 percent of healthy neurons and can not only insert DNA but also remove it. Previously, these L1s were known to be small bits of DNA called "jumping genes" that copy and paste themselves throughout the genome, but the researchers found that they also cause large deletions of entire genes. What's more, such variations can influence the expression of genes that are crucial for the developing brain.
The findings, published September 12, 2016 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

"The surprising part was that we thought all L1s could do was insert into new places. But the fact that they're causing deletions means that they're affecting the genome in a more significant way," says Erwin, a staff scientist in Gage's group.


This is another research science scandal - not just a failure of ‘bad apples’ scientists - but a failure of a major university to monitor the corruption of its research-science and a failure of major science journals and peer-review to catch this travesty. This a key reason why all science publication has to be open and freely available to the public and that peer-review has to be free from for-profit publication journals.
I wonder how many people died because of the policy that resulted from this corruption of research and resultant lack of proper diagnosis and nutritional guidelines.

Sugar industry bought off scientists, skewed dietary guidelines for decades

Harvard researchers got hefty sums to downplay role of sweets in heart disease
Back in the 1960s, a sugar industry executive wrote fat checks to a group of Harvard researchers so that they’d downplay the links between sugar and heart disease in a prominent medical journal—and the researchers did it, according to historical documents reported Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

One of those Harvard researchers went on to become the head of nutrition at the United States Department of Agriculture, where he set the stage for the federal government’s current dietary guidelines. All in all, the corrupted researchers and skewed scientific literature successfully helped draw attention away from the health risks of sweets and shift the blame solely to fats—for nearly five decades. The low-fat, high-sugar diets that health experts subsequently encouraged are now seen as a main driver of the current obesity epidemic.

The bitter revelations come from archived documents from the Sugar Research Foundation (now the Sugar Association), dug up by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Their dive into the old, sour affair highlights both the perils of trusting industry-sponsored research to inform policy and the importance of requiring scientists to disclose conflicts of interest—something that didn’t become the norm until years later. Perhaps most strikingly, it spotlights the concerning power of the sugar industry.

“These findings, our analysis, and current Sugar Association criticisms of evidence linking sucrose to cardiovascular disease suggest the industry may have a long history of influencing federal policy,” the authors concluded.


This is a worthwhile interview with Google’s Vice President of Streams, Photos, and Sharing - a title that in itself speaks a great deal about the future of media - whether it’s mobile or not - it’s definitely about managing our personal ‘streams’ of an ever wider diversity of information flows - on an ever ubiquitous variety of ‘screens

Bradley Horowitz Says That Google Photos is Gmail for Your Images. And That Google Plus Is Not Dead.

An interview with Google’s head of Streams, Photos and Sharing
In the late 1990s, when Horowitz worked at Yahoo, he was the executive behind the purchase of Flickr. And he has been involved with Google’s previous photo apps at various times in his seven years at the company. But Google Photos is the big one, the strongest push yet for the company that rules search to extend its dominance to the images you shoot incessantly from your phone and camera.

“Google’s been into photos for a long time, but this is the first time we have launched a standalone product built from the ground up,” he says.

Google Photos, announced today at its I/O conference, is important for another another reason to Horowitz. It is a clear signal of the way the company is rethinking its controversial social service, Google Plus. While the previous photo service lived in G+, this one is, as mentioned above, standalone. (This breaking-out-of-Plus process also happened earlier with Google Hangouts.)


Wearables don’t have to be micro to provide significant benefit and fun. This is a potentially new means for a powerful experience of augmented or more precisely ‘Mixed Reality’. The headline actually does itself and the product a disservice by confusing virtual reality as NOT reality - a better frame for understanding different domains of reality could be virtual vs actual reality - and thus we are entering an era where mixed reality can emerge as a normal aspect of life.
Hegsted and McGandy’s article, published as a two-part review in New England Journal of Medicine(NEJM), cherry-picked data, discounted studies that disputed its conclusion, and overstated the consistency of data suggesting that fat was the primary driver of heart disease. In conclusion, the review stated that there was “no doubt” that the only way to dodge heart disease was to reduce saturated fat.
The review made no mention of funding from the sugar industry. (NEJM didn’t start requiring authors to list conflicts of interest until 1984.)
By the 1980s, few scientists focused on the role of sugar in heart disease. The 1980 Dietary Guidelines for Americans emphasized curbing fats and dietary cholesterol to prevent heart disease.

AVOID REALITY EVERYWHERE YOU GO WITH MSI’S VR ONE BACKPACK

The Tokyo Game Show will kick off later this week, and MSI will be on hand to showcase its VR backpack called the VR One. It’s a computer that can be worn like a backpack and optimized for the HTC Vive headset, allowing users to walk around freely in their virtual worlds without the leashed constraints of cables. Of course, cables are still involved, but with the VR One, the computer is no longer the anchor.

But don’t get your hopes up of running around with a computer on your back all day. The VR One comes with two rechargeable, hot-swappable battery packs, one inserted on each side of the unit, that provides up to 90 minutes of pure VR gameplay combined. Granted, that’s not a lot of time, but keep in mind that this device doesn’t seem to be a strapped notebook, but rather a compact, high-end desktop that must power a VR headset and its controllers in the process.


The Internet is robust, distributed but need more infrastructure and more redundancy - a more powerful immune system.

Someone Is Learning How to Take Down the Internet

Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet. These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down. We don't know who is doing this, but it feels like a large a large nation state. China or Russia would be my first guesses.

First, a little background. If you want to take a network off the Internet, the easiest way to do it is with a distributed denial-of-service attack (DDoS). Like the name says, this is an attack designed to prevent legitimate users from getting to the site. There are subtleties, but basically it means blasting so much data at the site that it's overwhelmed. These attacks are not new: hackers do this to sites they don't like, and criminals have done it as a method of extortion. There is an entire industry, with an arsenal of technologies, devoted to DDoS defense. But largely it's a matter of bandwidth. If the attacker has a bigger fire hose of data than the defender has, the attacker wins.

What can we do about this? Nothing, really. We don't know where the attacks come from. The data I see suggests China, an assessment shared by the people I spoke with. On the other hand, it's possible to disguise the country of origin for these sorts of attacks. The NSA, which has more surveillance in the Internet backbone than everyone else combined, probably has a better idea, but unless the US decides to make an international incident over this, we won't see any attribution.
But this is happening. And people should know.


There is so much talk of collective intelligence - and yet more people are living independently than ever - where does the time fly? Anyone who has been an adult for any length of time and especially has dependents may already know this - even if they haven’t done the math.

Why are Adults so busy?

I've always wondered growing up - what makes adults so busy? Sure, you're working a 40 hour a week job but the rest should just be fun and games, right? I have vivid memories of my childhood perpetually repeating "I'm bored" like a broken cassette player. Surely adults were doing something wrong if they were never bored. How hard could being an adult be? I only realized when I became one.

So how much free time does that really leave us? 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is 168 hours a week. Minus 40 for work. 10.5 for cooking. 2 for laundry. 5 for cleaning. 2 for buying things. 1 for paying bills. 1 for small errands. 7 for transport. 7 for fitness. 3.5 for finances. 2 for your dependents, 10.5 for attire and grooming, 10.5 for eating and 56 for sleeping. That's 10 hours left of free time to catch a breath and do fun things like make friends, have hobbies, watch Netflix and be active on social media. For those who work 60 hour weeks, they're 10 hours short of time in a week to do anything at all!


The transformation of energy infrastructure is evolving faster - this is significant news for renewable energy infrastructure.

National Grid ushers large-scale battery storage onto UK power system

For the first time batteries will play a key role in helping to balance energy supply and demand on the UK grid
The UK has taken a key step forward in modernising its electricity grid infrastructure with the award of the first grid-scale battery storage contracts.

National Grid today confirmed eight companies have been awarded sub-second frequency response contracts to help balance the network, all of which will use battery storage to provide the service.
The tender round was relatively small, procuring 201MW of storage capacity, according to National Grid. EDF Energy, Vattenfall, Low Carbon, RES, Element Power, E.On UK and Belectric were all awarded contracts.

It is the first time battery storage has been used at grid-scale in the UK. The introduction of the technology is expected to save £200m over the next four years, thanks to its ability to respond to changes in supply and demand in under one second, compared to 10 seconds under conventional solutions.
The new facilities will come online between April 2017 and February 2018.


This is an interesting Canadian & U.S. pilot project - anticipating the transformation of our energy creation and distribution.
The overall goal of the project is to “demonstrate the use of technical and economic signals to manage the exchange of electricity,” a term that has been dubbed “transactive energy” by its proponents. In a perfect world, a transactive energy system would have thousands of independent energy actors, from central power plants to dispersed solar panels, batteries, smart thermostats and other grid edge assets, all telling each other what their energy needs are and what they’re willing to pay for them.

A 3-Part Microgrid Launches in Canada, With Transactive Energy as the Goal

$12.4 million for projects in Maine, Nova Scotia and Toronto that will merge distributed energy from both sides of the meter
Canada is building a microgrid of microgrids. On Tuesday, Sustainable Development Technology Canada announced a $16.4 million Canadian ($12.4 million) project to link three widely dispersed microgrids in Toronto, Nova Scotia, and upstate Maine into a “transactive energy” framework.

Utility partners Nova Scotia Power, Emera Maine, and Toronto Hydro will contribute most of the funding, with CAD $5.4 million ($4.1 million) coming from the Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), a public-private group that’s invested billions of dollars in Canadian green technology efforts.

Leading the technology portion of the project is Opus One Solutions, an Ontario, Canada-based startup that’s built a “GridOS” technology platform for real-time monitoring, analyzing and managing of distributed energy resources down to the feeder level. It’s going to be in charge of the front-of-the-meter portion of the project, connecting various distributed energy resources to grid sensors and other utility equipment.


The speed of Moore’s Law in renewable energy - the looming phase transition in energy geopolitics.
The solar bid in Abu Dhabi is not just the cheapest solar power contract ever signed – it’s the cheapest contract for electricity ever signed, anywhere on planet earth, using any technology.

New Record Low Solar Price in Abu Dhabi – Costs Plunging Faster Than Expected

The price of solar power – in the very sunniest locations in particular – is plunging faster than I expected. I’ve been talking for years now about the exponential decline of solar power prices. I’ve often been called a wide-eyed optimist. Here’s what those projections (based on historical learning rates) look like.
Future Solar Cost Projections - PPA LCOE
In fact, if anything, my forecasts were too conservative. The solar prices I expected have been smashed by bids in the Middle East and in Latin America. I will need to update the model above in a future post.

The latest record is an incredibly low bid of 2.42 cents / kwh solar electricity in Abu Dhabi. That is an unsubsidized price.

Let me put that in perspective. The cost of electricity from a new natural gas power plant in the US is now estimated at 5.6 cents / kwh.  That is with historically low natural gas prices in the US, which are far lower than the price of natural gas in the rest of the world.


This is a very easy read with a great graphic and paragraph for each technology. While this technology may not save our oceans the present a good view of current developments. Worth the view.

12 cutting-edge technologies that could save our oceans

An industrial revolution is unfolding under the seas. Rapid progress in the development of robotics, AI, low-cost sensors, satellite systems, big data and genetics are opening up whole new sectors of ocean use and research. Some of these disruptive marine technologies could mean a cleaner and safer future for our oceans. Others could themselves represent new challenges for ocean health.

The following 12 emerging ocean technologies are changing the way we harvest food, energy, minerals and data from our seas.
1. Autonomous ships
2. SCUBA droids
3. Underwater augmented reality glasses
4. Blue revolution
5. Undersea cloud computing
6. New waves of ocean energy
7. Ocean thermal energy
8. Deep sea mining
9. Ocean big data
10. Medicines from the seas
11. Coastal sensors
12. Biomimetic robots


This is an interesting research finding - demonstrating that humans are the key vulnerability in a hacker attack. All of us should be take a lesson from this research - especially those in government. Or as the one person on Twitter (who shared this) said
you're all idiots. we're all idiots. I'm an idiot. everyone's an idiot.

Users Really Do Plug in USB Drives They Find

We investigate the anecdotal belief that end users will pick up and plug in USB flash drives they find by completing a controlled experiment in which we drop 297 flash drives on a large university campus. We find that the attack is effective with an estimated success rate of 45–98% and expeditious with the first drive connected in less than six minutes. We analyze the types of drives users connected and survey those users to understand their motivation and security profile. We find that a drive’s appearance does not increase attack success. Instead, users connect the drive with the altruistic intention of finding the owner. These individuals are not technically incompetent, but are rather typical community members who appear to take more recreational risks than their peers. We conclude with lessons learned and discussion on how social engineering attacks—while less technical— continue to be an effective attack vector that our community has yet to successfully address.

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