Thursday, January 12, 2017

Friday Thinking 13 Jan. 2017

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


Taking an Hour Long Afternoon Nap Improves Memory and Cognition in Older Adults

I'm starting to think that the Big Five has turned into Detroit -- meaning the  bloated, self-satisfied, chrome and tail fins Detroit -- with amazing Internet speed.  They're big, but flaccid and hapless.  I'll run through that a little.

Google: they're harebrained.  Their moonshots all miss the Moon. Why are they "Alphabet"?  What was gained by that?  Why all the fuss over the radically over hyped car and the silly goggles?  What do they want from themselves? Why are they "assembling the world's knowledge" in a world that depends on them and yet is obviously saturated with lies, rumor, fear and the madness of crowds?  They drink their own Google  bathwater.  There's nothing between them and world domination except the stark fact that they can't get a grip.

Apple: so stodgy.  The rich guy's rose-gold wrist toy.  Why are their devices "thin"?  Why was that ever a quality to worry about in a computational consumer device?  Sure, Apple is wreathed in high-profit fur and diamonds, but they're coming across like Zsa Zsa Gabor.  Elderly, formerly-daring, an aging diva who is transgressive in ways that nobody thinks are actually liberating.

Facebook: bitter, toxic, creepy.  Best friends with Nazis, black martyrs, spies, deceivers, anybody you hate.  Imagine there's no Mark Zuckerberg suddenly -- (because Mark lost a brother-in-law in a shocking accident, sadly for him).  Who cries in a world without The Zuck?  His wife, kid, sister, immediate family will be very upset.  Everybody else: secret sigh of relief.  The guy's got two billion friends but nobody likes him.

Microsoft:  simply old-fashioned.  Like a office-supply company. The place where good ideas in computation go to die, but can't leave because of the catering.

Amazon:  Actually, Amazon is looking pretty good.  Best of the lot. Unfortunately, there's only one guy with any clout there, Jeff Bezos.  Bezos is a great businessman, but he's now the Washington Post and therefore out of favor with the regime.  Maybe that's the right moral place for a business leader of his world changing caliber now, but obviously the red-staters are gonna try to beat Bezos up, probably by attacking his sales-tax advantage, which is bullshit nowadays anyway.   Still, he's got the Amazon Cloud and Alexa voice-computing, which are new computational initiatives with users and revenue.  Bezos looks like a genuine captain of industry, so I'll be spending more time watching him this year than I used to.

….Then there's deep-learning AI neural nets for 2017.   Neural nets are also decades  old, but I'm genuinely impressed by the new tech advances here.  The new deep learners quite radical, capable and interesting.  I don't, however, think they're gonna work in the way that people currently imagine they're going to work.   

People think they are magic fortune-telling Big Data machines when they're really instruments  more like camera filters.  I know that's a weak analogy, but these deep learners aren't "smart" even though they do behave rather like nets of neurons.  Technically, they're like the retina of the eye: they can take huge blurs and roars of data and turn them into useful, refined output.  

I don't, however, think they're gonna "revolutionize computing," because their workings are so opaque.  You can't mathematically prove that you have an accurate answer with a deep-learner.  You just get cool Ouija-board hints.  They strike me as a form of decadence for computer science, frankly.  They have a baroque, visionary, suggestive, occultist quality when at this historical moment that's the very last thing we need.

Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky: State of the World 2017

Steven Pinker has recently written a brief piece on the importance of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics in interpretation of misfortune and fortune in human affairs

However, macroscopic behaviors in non-equilibrium systems are not described by the 2nd law. The earth is not a closed system: We are in sunlight with emission of heat to space, and therefore the earth and human affairs are not described by the 2nd Law. The nature of things falling apart and coming together is described by multiscale concepts and not by the 2nd law. To the extent there is a connection between the two it is not part of the second law, but part of a more general understanding of the space of possibilities: Order, disorder, information, construction, selection, destruction and degeneration. It is true that an increase in order at large scales is related to a decrease in entropy, but relating these to good and bad is unclear.

For example: The idea that a messy desk is a higher entropy state than an ordered one is wrong. That kind of disorder is not counted by entropy. It is the wrong scale. Also, what appears to be violation of the second law, disorder going to order, is possible. Such spontaneous “self-organization” happens in multiple ways, animate and inanimate. This is why stones can self-organize in circles, birds can self-organize in flocks, and people can self-organize in economic and social structures that can, at least in some cases (i.e. if they are done well and not poorly), contribute to our well being. Consider also the origin of life itself.

Yaneer Bar-Yam Comment on: 2nd Law of Thermodynamics in Human Affairs

When India can consider this idea - it’s time for everyone to look at it more closely.

The Indian government is about to endorse giving all its citizens free money

The idea behind universal basic income is simple: a regular state payment made to all citizens (one variation specifies adults), regardless of working status.

Advocates say it would provide a vital safety net for all citizens and remove inefficient benefit systems currently in place; critics say it would remove the incentive for citizens to work and prove to be wildly expensive.

It has, however, attracted a growing amount of attention across the world, in both rich and developing countries. ...three major pilot schemes in India - two in Madhya Pradesh, and a smaller one in West Delhi.

The pilots in Madhya Pradesh launched in 2010, and provided every man, woman, and child across eight villages with a modest basic income for 18 months. Standing reports that welfare improved dramatically in the villages, "particularly in nutrition among the children, healthcare, sanitation, and school attendance and performance."

He also says the scheme also turned out some unexpected results.
"The most striking thing which we hadn't actually anticipated is that the emancipatory effect was greater than the monetary effect. It enabled people to have a sense of control. They pooled some of the money to pay down their debts, they increased decisions on escaping from debt bondage. The women developed their own capacity to make their own decision about their own lives. The general tenor of all those communities has been remarkably positive," he said.

"As a consequence of this, the Indian government is coming out with a big report in January. As you can imagine that makes me very excited. It will basically say this is the way forward."

China is building infrastructure all over the world - see Parag Khanna’s book ‘Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization for a wealth in information about this. That said China’s investment in renewable energy mirrors the growing shift of a much larger investment efforts globally - another increasingly strong signal of the phase transition in energy geopolitics. Expect the next few years to witness ever more strident appeals for the incumbent carbon-based energy players. The energy future seems ever brighter.
"The government may exceed these targets because there are more investment opportunities in the sector as costs go down," said Steven Han, renewable analyst with securities firm Shenyin Wanguo.
The spending comes as the cost of building large-scale solar plants has dropped by as much as 40 percent since 2010. China became the world's top solar generator last year.
...the investment reflects Beijing's continued focus on curbing the use of fossil fuels, which have fostered the country's economic growth over the past decade, as it ramps up its war on pollution.

China to Plow $361 Billion into Renewable Fuel by 2020

China will plow 2.5 trillion yuan ($361 billion) into renewable power generation by 2020, the country's energy agency said on Thursday, as the world's largest energy market continues to shift away from dirty coal power towards cleaner fuels.  

The investment will create over 13 million jobs in the sector, the National Energy Administration (NEA) said in a blueprint document that lays out its plan to develop the nation's energy sector during the five-year 2016 to 2020 period.

The NEA said installed renewable power capacity including wind, hydro, solar and nuclear power will contribute to about half of new electricity generation by 2020.

OK this is definitely from a special interest’s point of view but it is the natural consequence to the phase transition in energy geopolitics (see above). It is interesting how the disrupter is making a claim that a nation needs informed citizens and the incumbents see the need to manufacture consent. :)
“The fundamental issue with fossil fuels is that every use comes with a subsidy,” Musk said. “Every gasoline car on the road has a subsidy, and the right way to address that is with a carbon tax.”

“Politicians take the easy path of providing subsidies to electric vehicles, which aren’t equal to the applied subsidies of gasoline vehicles. It weakens the economic forcing function to transition to sustainable transport and energy.”
“It is quite worrying, the future of the world,” he added. “We need to appeal to the people and educate them to sort of revolt against this and to fight the propaganda of the fossil fuel industry which is unrelenting and enormous.”

Elon Musk: 'We need a revolt against the fossil fuel industry'

Tesla chief says educating the public on climate issues is essential in countering oil and gas lobby’s influence over big political decisions,
Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has accused politicians of bowing to the “unrelenting and enormous” lobbying power of the fossil fuel industry, warning that a global “revolt” may be needed to accelerate the transition to more sustainable energy and transport systems.

Speaking at the World Energy Innovation Forum at the Tesla Factory in California on Wednesday, Musk claimed that traditional vehicles and energy sources will continue to hold a competitive edge against greener alternatives due to the vast amounts of subsidies they receive.

The solution to this energy dilemma, Musk says, is to introduce a price on carbon by defining a tax rate on greenhouse gas emissions or the carbon content of fossil fuels.

This is a longish article on the founder of the General Public Lisence and a co-founder of GNU/Linux. For anyone interested in why all software (like scientific knowledge) should be ‘free’ as in ‘free speech’ NOT free beer this is a great summary of Richard Stallman’s efforts. It also help to articulate the nuance between ‘open source’ and ‘free’.

The Sorcerer's Code

Richard Stallman’s quest to save us from a web of spyware—and from ourselves.
Stallman has been concerned about digital privacy since the 1990s, but it’s just one of the many issues (alongside censorship, copyright, and others) that motivate his push to shake up the software landscape. He aims for the world to use only “free” software (“think ‘free speech,’ not ‘free beer’”) whose source code can be freely studied, altered, and shared by its users. Nearly all the software on our phones and computers, as well as on other machines, is nonfree or “proprietary” software and is riddled with spyware and back doors installed by Apple, Google, Microsoft, and the like. In the 1980s, Stallman started a movement to support free software. In the process, he and others created a free operating system, GNU, currently running on tens of millions of computers, including nearly every web server. If you’ve heard of open source (free software’s practice sans its moral stance) or Linux (really GNU, plus a program called Linux), you can thank Stallman.

By using proprietary software, Stallman believes, we are forfeiting control of our computers, and thus of our digital lives. In his denunciation of all nonfree software as inherently abusive and unethical, he has alienated many possible allies and followers. But he is not here to make friends. He is here to save us from a software industry he considers predatory in ways we’ve yet to recognize.

Richard Stallman is a hacker’s hacker—in skills, philosophy, and temperament. For a while he lived in his lab. He doesn’t use keycards to unlock doors for fear of being tracked. He deploys puns mercilessly. He often carries a recorder (the musical instrument) in his pocket to play when the mood strikes him. His emails begin with this boilerplate: “To any NSA and FBI agents reading my email…” He’s received a MacArthur “genius” grant and 15 honorary doctorates.

The idea of infrastructure for the 21st century has to include fiber optic cable to every home and business. Here’s an inspiring example from the UK.
"It wasn't rocket science. It was three days of hard work."
"We dug it ourselves and we lit [the cable] ourselves and we proved that ordinary people could do it," she says.

The farmer who built her own broadband

"I'm just a farmer's wife," says Christine Conder, modestly. But for 2,300 members of the rural communities of Lancashire she is also a revolutionary internet pioneer.
Her DIY solution to a neighbour's internet connectivity problems in 2009 has evolved into B4RN, an internet service provider offering fast one gigabit per second broadband speeds to the parishes which nestle in the picturesque Lune Valley.
That is 35 times faster than the 28.9 Mbps average UK speed internet connection according to Ofcom.

It all began when the trees which separated Chris's neighbouring farm from its nearest wireless mast - their only connection to the internet, provided by Lancaster University - grew too tall.
Something more robust was required, and no alternatives were available in the area, so Chris decided to take matters into her own hands.

She purchased a kilometre of fibre-optic cable and commandeered her farm tractor to dig a trench.
After lighting the cable, the two farms were connected, with hers feeding the one behind the trees.

And if one wants to do more than build your own fiber optic network - here’s another great open-source innitiative.

LibreRouter: Why Buy a Router When You Can Build Your Own?

To connect to the Internet, most people around the world rely on private companies to provide us with Internet service — and the necessary hardware to get online — for a fee. We depend on companies like Asus, Cisco, Eriksson and Huawei, that build modems and routers, in order to connect to the Internet.

But this is not the only way to connect. LibreRouter, a new project developed by a group of hackers originating from different countries and backgrounds, will now make it easier to get online without relying on a corporate hardware manufacturer.

The most fundamental difference is in the freedom that it offers. First and foremost, we clearly do not put any form of block on the software (as do the other manufacturers, since the new regulations), in such a way that anyone can modify the default firmware (LibreMesh, a Free Software based on OpenWrt/LEDE), or even completely replace the firmware for another version (‘reflash it’) with ease.

On the other hand, it is an Open-Source Hardware project which means we will publish all of the design documents for the motherboard so that any user can understand, change and create their own version. There are not many routers on the market that offer this possibility, and actually the company Dragino – which is in charge of the motherboard's development and who has been working on this area for years – has released design documents of its former products.

Lastly, there are enormous differences in relation to the hardware's performance. Routers that are marketed (at accessible prices) today normally include only one WiFi radio. There are routers on the market that have two radios but for domestic use, software modifications are necessary (an increasingly difficult task) and also physical changes are required so that they can survive outdoors and have a better range.

LibreRouter is factory-ready to be installed outdoors and comes equipped with three radios that are used intelligently by the LibreMesh software to build high performance ‘Wireless mesh networks’, only requiring correct antenna orientation, and able to create two 5GHz band simultaneous links in independent directions.
In some ways, it packs into one device functions that are normally obtained through combining a basic 2.4GHz domestic router and two external 5GHz routers, but at a much lower cost, with easier installation and multiple possibilities for future development.

The world of video games is becoming ever larger not just for players - but for a growing audience who finds that watching great gamers is as exciting as watching many other  forms of performance - whether those are in the arts or in sports.

The women who make a living gaming on Twitch

Women battle old-fashioned sexism and new forms of harassment to become big players in the world of professional gaming
Two years ago Chelsea quit her job as a pharmacy technician to play video games.
“I went to work one day and I was like, ‘I would actually be making more money if I had stayed at home and kept playing video games than coming here,’” she says. That week she handed in her resignation.

Chelsea is one of a growing number of Australian women making a living from, a live-video streaming platform that allows people from all over the world to watch one another play games. It’s also a social network: chat rooms are embedded into user pages next to video streams, allowing the broadcaster and audience to interact in real time. Going by the username Xminks, Chelsea has become renowned for her skills in Call of Duty – so much so that playing it online has become her bread and butter. Every night about 10pm she turns on her webcam, chats to some of her 330,000 followers and gets to work.

Twitch has somehow escaped becoming a household name despite its phenomenal popularity: the company claims it has 9.7 million active users on its site every day and more than 2 million streamers a month. Amazon saw its potential in 2014 and bought it for $970m, even though the decision left many business commentators scratching their heads at the time.

The company doesn’t only deal in online interactions: it also livestreams some of the world’s biggest video game tournaments, in which professional gamers compete in stadiums in front of thousands of people and millions of online viewers. Audiences for game tournaments routinely surpass those of mainstream television – yet somehow the scene manages to retain the illusion of being a subculture.

This is an interesting article with a critique of social media from a ‘Web 1.0’ perspective - one that McLuhan might well be familiar with - the distinction between text literacy and TV-Visual literacy - the whole cool vs hot media issue and how visual media was re-tribalizing society.
It is so interesting to see the same analysis being played out in Web 1.0 versus Web 2.0. Also another dimension of ‘worlds colliding’ - each new technology induces a sort of forgetting and invites new sorts of accidents - both opportunity and disaster.

Social Media Is Killing Discourse Because It’s Too Much Like TV

We need more text and fewer videos and memes in the age of Trump.
If I say that social media aided Donald Trump’s election, you might think of fake news on Facebook. But even if Facebook fixes the algorithms that elevate phony stories, there’s something else going on: social media represents the ultimate ascendance of television over other media.

I've been warning about this since November 2014, when I was freed from six years of incarceration in Tehran, a punishment I received for my online activism in Iran. Before I went to prison, I blogged frequently on what I now call the open Web: it was decentralized, text-centered, and abundant with hyperlinks to source material and rich background. It nurtured varying opinions. It was related to the world of books.

Then for six years I got disconnected; when I left prison and came back online, I was confronted by a brave new world. Facebook and Twitter had replaced blogging and had made the Internet like TV: centralized and image-centered, with content embedded in pictures, without links.

This article presents a concept first developed by Philip K. Dick in the novel that was later popularized in a strange animation-type film ‘A Scanner Darkly’ (worth the view - as surreal as it is - stars Keanu Reeves).

Anti-surveillance clothing aims to hide wearers from facial recognition

Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles that computers interpret as a face, in fightback against intrusive technology
The use of facial recognition software for commercial purposes is becoming more common, but, as Amazon scans faces in its physical shop and Facebook searches photos of users to add tags to, those concerned about their privacy are fighting back.

Berlin-based artist and technologist Adam Harvey aims to overwhelm and confuse these systems by presenting them with thousands of false hits so they can’t tell which faces are real.

The Hyperface project involves printing patterns on to clothing or textiles, which then appear to have eyes, mouths and other features that a computer can interpret as a face.

This is not the first time Harvey has tried to confuse facial recognition software. During a previous project, CV Dazzle, he attempted to create an aesthetic of makeup and hairstyling that would cause machines to be unable to detect a face.

Here’s another signal in the emerging phase transition in employment, and employability.
Artificial intelligence systems like IBM’s are poised to upend knowledge-based professions, like insurance and financial services, according to the Harvard Business Review, due to the fact that many jobs can be “composed of work that can be codified into standard steps and of decisions based on cleanly formatted data.” But whether that means augmenting workers’ ability to be productive, or replacing them entirely remains to be seen.

Japanese white-collar workers are already being replaced by artificial intelligence

Most of the attention around automation focuses on how factory robots and self-driving cars may fundamentally change our workforce, potentially eliminating millions of jobs. But AI that can handle knowledge-based, white-collar work are also becoming increasingly competent.

One Japanese insurance company, Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance, is reportedly replacing 34 human insurance claim workers with “IBM Watson Explorer,” starting by January 2017.

The AI will scan hospital records and other documents to determine insurance payouts, according to a company press release, factoring injuries, patient medical histories, and procedures administered. Automation of these research and data gathering tasks will help the remaining human workers process the final payout faster, the release says.

Fukoku Mutual will spend $1.7 million (200 million yen) to install the AI system, and $128,000 per year for maintenance, according to Japan’s The Mainichi. The company saves roughly $1.1 million per year on employee salaries by using the IBM software, meaning it hopes to see a return on the investment in less than two years.

Another article of an increasing many about the advance of automation with AI and robotics.

iPhone manufacturer Foxconn plans to replace almost every human worker with robots

China’s iPhone factories are being automated
Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturing giant behind Apple’s iPhone and numerous other major electronics devices, aims to automate away a vast majority of its human employees, according to a report from DigiTimes. Dai Jia-peng, the general manager of Foxconn’s automation committee, says the company has a three-phase plan in place to automate its Chinese factories using software and in-house robotics units, known as Foxbots.

The first phase of Foxconn’s automation plans involve replacing the work that is either dangerous or involves repetitious labor humans are unwilling to do. The second phase involves improving efficiency by streamlining production lines to reduce the number of excess robots in use. The third and final phase involves automating entire factories, “with only a minimal number of workers assigned for production, logistics, testing, and inspection processes,” according to Jia-peng.

The slow and steady march of manufacturing automation has been in place at Foxconn for years. The company said last year that it had set a benchmark of 30 percent automation at its Chinese factories by 2020. The company can now produce around 10,000 Foxbots a year, Jia-peng says, all of which can be used to replace human labor. In March, Foxconn said it had automated away 60,000 jobs at one of its factories.

This is an excellent example of the emerging ‘Internet-of-Sensors’ that are the first step toward what Marshall McLuhan asserted was the true use of computer - to regulate the world (actually he said the galaxy - but that’s quite far away - unless he meant the Gutenberg Galaxy). We are still only at the threshold of the universe of real-time Big Data - this will also include all domains of social science.
"Real-time Earth observation is going to change the way science is done over the next 10 to 20 years," said Tim Crone, a marine geophysicist who is co-leading a Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory initiative to push the frontier of real-time data about the planet. "We're on the precipice of a new kind of science, and technology is giving us an opportunity to do amazing things."

Exploring our changing Earth, in real time

Across the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory campus, scientists are exploring undersea volcanoes, monitoring coastal erosion along hard-to-reach shorelines, and studying the movement of sea ice – all in real time. By loading drones with high-tech instruments and using satellites and undersea cables that are interacting with sensors in some of the most remote locations on Earth, they are uncovering the secrets of our planet.

Lamont is one of the few research facilities in the world where scientists are putting all types of scientific platforms, from seafloor to space, to use for real-time data analysis. Data is coming in from cabled arrays crossing the sea floor, underwater vehicles, and aerial labs as large as airplanes and as small as drones. Satellites are beaming back data from seagoing sensors that are monitoring ocean chemistry and currents around the world.

Those real-time measurements are fueling breakthroughs across the sciences as they verify computer models and reveal unexpected changes.

Here is another potential breakthrough - one that fits in the “Moore’s Law is Dead - Long Live Moore’s Law” file.

HPE's New Chip Marks a Milestone in Optical Computing

The experimental 1,000-component optical processor is made for challenges like the “traveling salesman problem”
We may use photons to carry our data, but we rely on the electron to put it to use. One day that division of labor might not be so stark. A team at Hewlett Packard Labs, in Palo Alto, Calif., has built a demonstration chip that could help push some particularly thorny computations into the realm of light, potentially boosting speed and saving energy in the process.

Silicon integrated circuits containing parts that can manipulate light are not new. But this chip, which integrates 1,052 optical components, is the biggest and most complex in which all the photonic components work together to perform a computation, says team member Dave Kielpinski, a senior research scientist at Hewlett Packard Labs (now a part of Hewlett Packard Enterprise, or HPE). “We believe that it is by a wide margin,” he says.

The chip, which was developed through the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Mesodynamic Architectures­ program and was still undergoing testing as IEEE Spectrum went to press, is an implementation of an Ising machine—an approach to computation that could potentially solve some problems, such as the infamous “traveling salesman problem,” faster than conventional computers can.

The Ising approach is based on a century-­old model for how the magnetic fields of atoms interact to give rise to magnetism. The model envisions every atom as having a property called “spin” that prefers to point either up or down. In a ferromagnetic material, above a certain temperature, these spins are oriented randomly and are flipped repeatedly by heat. But when the temperature falls below a certain threshold, the interactions between the atoms dominate, and most of the spins settle down to point in the same direction.

The world of Big Data and surveillance is already here - where it’s going though is still being determined. This is a good article about one small aspect - even though it affects everyone who uses a browser.

How adtech, not ad blocking, breaks the social contract

In the physical world it is well understood that we wont track our fellow human beings as if they were animals tagged for study. But adtech does exactly that, and it’s wrong.
Let’s get straight what’s going on when you “visit” a Web site or page. Literally, you request it. You don’t go anywhere at all. That request is what the hypertext protocol (http or https) facilitates. (Protocols are ritualized manners, like handshakes, bows and smiles. They also scaffold the social contract.)

So, for example, when I go to, I expect the browser to display that page and its links, and nothing more. Or, when I go to, I expect the browser to display the index page of the site. And, if I have some kind of relationship with that site, I expect it to recognize that I am a returning visitor or customer.

In neither of those cases do I expect tracking files, other than those required to remember state, which was the original purpose of Lou Montuli’s magic cookie, way back in ’94. Now known as just “the cookie,” it is in ubiquitous use today. In Lou’s detailed history of that creation he writes, “The goal was to create a session identifier and general ‘memory’ mechanism for websites that didn’t allow for cross site tracking.” So there’s another broken social contract of sorts.

This has a 5 min video that is a must view - not that I’m convinced it is accurate - but it’s in the ballpark - one of the advantages of having anything that can be automated becoming automated is that the result is an agile network that is programmable and therefore able to reduce opportunity costs as well as transaction costs.

Make. Less. More. — Why Adaptive Production Can Save The Planet

Even if you don’t watch the video, I will briefly note the points in it that are relevant to this article (but, seriously, watch the video).
  • People are at the center.
  • This will not change.
  • People want more choices.
  • People want more personalization.
In response to those perceptions about people and their needs, Industry 4.0:
  • can adapt quickly in a changing world.
  • provides connectivity across companies.
  • utilizes data mobility and virtual design.
  • listens to preferences to define how the factory will be assembled
  • is composed of modular production units which are autonomous but also trainable.
  • monitors the entire value chain in the “Internet of Things” (IoT) cloud.
In other “Industry 4.0,” “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” and “smart factories” resources, we find similar revelations. The Internet of Things will be self-describing; value-chains will auto-update, and networks of sensors will enable production systems to be aware of themselves and their components at all times.

This may be a very significant breakthrough with many potential implications for Moore’s Law in relation to computational capacities - as well as new forms of materials.
“What we have shown here is that we can make tiny, conductive wires of the smallest possible size that essentially assemble themselves,” said Hao Yan, a Stanford postdoctoral researcher and lead author of the paper. “The process is a simple, one-pot synthesis. You dump the ingredients together and you can get results in half an hour. It’s almost as if the diamondoids know where they want to go.”

Researchers Use World's Smallest Diamonds to Make Wires Three Atoms Wide

LEGO-style Building Method Has Potential for Making One-Dimensional Materials with Extraordinary Properties
Scientists at Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have discovered a way to use diamondoids – the smallest possible bits of diamond – to assemble atoms into the thinnest possible electrical wires, just three atoms wide.

By grabbing various types of atoms and putting them together LEGO-style, the new technique could potentially be used to build tiny wires for a wide range of applications, including fabrics that generate electricity, optoelectronic devices that employ both electricity and light, and superconducting materials that conduct electricity without any loss. The scientists reported their results today in Nature Materials.

Although there are other ways to get materials to self-assemble, this is the first one shown to make a nanowire with a solid, crystalline core that has good electronic properties, said study co-author Nicholas Melosh, an associate professor at SLAC and Stanford and investigator with SIMES, the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences at SLAC.

Many people may still not be convinced we are in the midst of domesticating DNA. However, when science enters the world of ‘Do-It-Yourself’ approaches - it begins to ensure it’s domestication and also enters into the world of citizen and amateurs science.
In the end, the students were foiled by inadequate lab equipment and too little time. When the competition deadline rolled around in October, they hadn’t even finished the first half of the project.

College Students Show How Easy It Is to Use Terrifying Genetic Engineering Technology

The gene drive is quickly becoming one of the most controversial technologies of our time. Its possibilities are at once spectacular and alarming: by using genetic engineering to override natural selection during reproduction, a gene drive could allow scientists to alter the genetic makeup of an entire species. This could be used to eliminate diseases and protect natural habitats—but could also go horribly wrong in the wrong hands.

Which is why the scientific community is freaking out over a group of undergraduate students that just came very close to creating a gene drive as part of a science competition.

The students, from the University of Minnesota, were inspired by a paper that explained how gene drive works and how to build one. A gene drive is so named for its ability to “drive” certain lab-selected traits into every offspring of an engineered species, eliminating competition with natural selection. Theoretically, this means that if released in the wild, over many generations the genetics of a lab-altered species could spread throughout an entire wild population. In case it’s not obvious, that is some pretty crazy stuff.

The students, who were competing in the international synthetic biology competition iGEM, didn’t actually successfully create a gene drive. They were interested in creating a “reversal drive” that could undo a gene drive’s effects in yeast. That would mean first creating a gene drive for yeast, and then an antidote to undo it. The students’ plan was to remove the ADE2 gene in yeast cells, turning red yeast pink, and then restore them to their original shade. They downloaded the genetic sequence for the gene drive from a scientific paper and sent the information to a DNA synthesis company, along with the sequence for a reversal drive they designed themselves. Then they got to work introducing the gene drive and its reversal drive into their yeast.

This is certainly less terrifying. We are getting closer to a vaccine for Malaria.

A Genetically Modified Malaria Vaccine Has Passed an Important Hurdle

Researchers have tested a modified malaria parasite in humans that has been shown to be safe and to trigger an immune response.
It seems a primitive way to fight one of the world’s worst diseases, but 10 volunteers have been bitten by malaria-carrying mosquitoes in an effort to test out a new kind of genetically modified vaccine. So far, so good: no one got sick, and all 10 subjects developed antibodies, suggesting the new vaccine was doing its job.

Researchers led by Jim Kublin at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle knocked out three genes in the parasite Plasmodium falciparum, which causes the type of malaria most commonly found in Africa. Previous testing in mice showed that deleting just those genes was enough to prevent the parasite from progressing through its life cycle—infected mice developed antibodies but never got sick. They reported the results of the first trials in people today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

It’s a promising step for a vaccine that is badly needed—in 2015, the World Health Organization estimated that 214 million people got malaria and 438,000 died from it.
Several malaria vaccines are in development, but they all come with big drawbacks.

I love this - We have oodles of literature about diet and behavior rooted in our hunter-gatherer past - but we continue to structure our days in industrial conveniences and notion of faux-efficiency.

Taking an Hour Long Afternoon Nap Improves Memory and Cognition in Older Adults

Researchers report aging Chinese people who took an afternoon snooze had better memory and thinking skills than those who didn’t.
Preserving your memory, as well as your ability to think clearly and make decisions, is a key goal for people as they age. Researchers have a growing interest in the role sleep plays in helping older adults maintain their healthy mental function.

Recently, researchers examined information provided by nearly 3,000 Chinese adults aged 65 and older to learn whether taking an afternoon nap had any effect on mental health. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Nearly 60 percent of the people in the study said they napped after lunch in the afternoon. They napped between about 30 minutes to more than 90 minutes, with most people taking naps lasting about 63 minutes.

According to the study’s results, people who took an hour-long nap after lunch did better on the mental tests compared to the people who did not nap. Those who napped for about an hour also did better than people who took shorter or longer rests. People who took no naps, short naps, or longer naps experienced decreases in their mental ability that were about four-to-six times greater than people who took hour-long naps.

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