Thursday, July 20, 2017

Friday Thinking 21 July 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



But in a car industry roiled by self-driving vehicles and self-promoting Tesla, which is now valued as highly as General Motors and far more highly than Ford, automakers have to sell more than cars to be seen as exciting by Wall Street. They’ve got to be technology companies, not manufacturers. And that means developing autonomous systems, rethinking the motive power under the hood, and figuring out the art of bold pronouncements.

Either the automotive world is going to undergo a radical transformation around 2020, or these companies have seriously erred in their planning.

All the Promises Automakers Have Made About the Future of Cars

Our entire approach to managing complex systems like our environment is flawed. Until the late 20th Century we could get away with this flaw because we weren’t powerful enough to matter. This has changed …. we need to level up quickly. We need to switch from trying to manage complex systems with complicated control structures and invent entirely new techniques for intrinsically up regulating the complex systems that make up our natural world. We don’t yet know how to do this.

Complex systems that include human beings are different. Unlike atmospheres and nitrogen cycles, people can forecast, strategize and adapt hyper-rapidly to our environment. Dave Snowden calls this anthro-complexity. We have to innovate an entirely new approach to governance that is adequate to the challenging set of problems posed by anthro-complexity. We really don’t know how to do this.

Finally, we have to come to terms with the real nature of technology, the difficult to predict feedback loops of how we affect technology and how it affects us. And then we have to figure out how to navigate the actual consequences of exponential technology — on ourselves and on our lived world. Most people aren’t even prepared to think about how to do this.

Understanding the Blue Church

There are many patterns of collective behavior in biology that are easy to see because they occur along the familiar dimensions of space and time. Think of the murmuration of starlings. Or army ants that span gaps on the forest floor by linking their own bodies into bridges. Loose groups of shoaling fish that snap into tight schools when a predator shows up.

Then there are less obvious patterns, like those that the evolutionary biologist Jessica Flack tries to understand. In 2006, her graduate work at Emory University showed how just a few formidable-looking fighters could stabilize an entire group of macaques by intervening in scuffles between weaker monkeys, who would submit with teeth-baring grins rather than risk a fight they thought they would lose. But when Flack removed some of the police, the whole group became fractured and chaotic.

Like flocking or schooling, the policing behavior arises from individual interactions to produce a macroscopic effect on the entire ensemble. But it is subtler, perhaps harder to visualize and measure. Or, as Flack says of macaque society and many of the other systems she studies, “their metric space is a social coordinate space. It’s not Euclidean.”

How Nature Solves Problems Through Computation

When we hear the word efficiency we zero in―subconsciously―on the most measurable criteria, like speed of service or consumption of energy. Efficiency means measurable efficiency. That’s not neutral at all, since it favors what can best be measured. And herein lies the problem, in three respects:

1. Because costs are usually easier to measure than benefits, efficiency often reduces to economy: cutting measurable costs at the expense of less measurable benefits. Think of all those governments that have cut the costs of health care or education while the quality of those services have deteriorated. (I defy anyone to come up with an adequate measure of what a child really learns in a classroom.) How about those CEOs who cut budgets for research so that they can earn bigger bonuses right away, or the student who found all sorts of ways to make an orchestra more efficient.

2. Because economic costs are typically easier to measure than social costs, efficiency can actually result in an escalation of social costs. Making a factory or a school more efficient is easy, so long as you don’t care about the air polluted or the minds turned off learning. I’ll bet the factory that collapsed in Bangladesh was very efficient.

3. Because economic benefits are typically easier to measure than social benefits, efficiency drives us toward an economic mindset that can result in social degradation. In a nutshell, we are efficient when we eat fast food instead of good food.

So beware of efficiency, and of efficiency experts, as well as of efficient education, heath care, and music, even efficient factories. Be careful too of balanced scorecards, because, while they include all kinds of criteria may be well intentioned, the dice are loaded in favor of those that can most easily be measured.

What could possibly be wrong with “efficiency”? Plenty.

This is a signal of the potential of the digital environment to become an infrastructural platform for a new political economy.

Estonia is trying to convert the EU to its digital creed

The country of e-residency wonders why others are more skeptical.
ESTONIANS are among Europe’s least pious folk. Just 2% of the population attend services weekly in the medieval churches of Tallinn, or anywhere else. A growing number of the inhabitants of this forested, sparsely populated land subscribe to the nature-loving precepts of neo-paganism. But there is only one faith that truly unites Estonians. Broach the subject of digital technology, and you will be amazed by their fervour.

Estonia has carved out a niche as a startup hub and a friendly environment for foreign businesses. Its biggest innovation, however, lies in e-government. Citizens of this tiny Baltic nation can conduct almost every encounter with the state online. A digital-signature system makes official transactions a doddle. Armed with an ID card and a PIN, Estonians can vote, submit applications or sign contracts in seconds. Officials claim this lifts annual GDP by 2% while saving a mound of paperwork and creating opportunities for business. Estonians abroad lament the red tape involved in even simple tasks like applying for a driving licence.

These achievements have made e-government a potent source of soft power for Estonia. Its latest startup is an e-governance academy designed to spread the word, and pilgrimages to Tallinn are now compulsory for governments curious about digitisation. “Is it true that there’s only 1.3m of you? I don’t believe it! You are everywhere,” exclaimed an African emissary on a recent visit. Japan has built an ID system with Estonian help. Its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is one of over 21,000 foreign “e-residents” of Estonia, all of whom can incorporate businesses in the country without setting foot in it. (The first was one of Charlemagne’s colleagues.) Estonia is aiming for 10m e-residents by 2025. Many of them, it hopes, will be British entrepreneurs otherwise severed from the European Union’s single market by Brexit. “E-residency”, says an official, “is our gift to the world.”

Now, as Estonia assumes the rotating presidency of the EU’s Council of Ministers, it has been granted a pulpit from which to preach the digital gospel to the rest of Europe. As well as managing legislative disputes between the EU’s 28 governments, Estonia will spend the next six months pressing its vision upon the rest of the club, which, it fears, may be left behind by more digitally astute policymakers in other parts of the world. The crowning moment will be a “digital summit” in September, which almost all of the EU’s leaders will attend.

Chief among Estonia’s plans is a proposal to expand the EU’s familiar four freedoms—the unhindered movement of goods, services, capital and people across borders—to include a fifth: data. Data-localisation rules can hinder cross-border trade as effectively as tariffs on goods, or regulations that protect service industries. (The European Commission counts over 50 such laws across the EU.) By one estimate, a fully functional data market could raise the EU’s GDP by about €8bn ($9.1bn) a year. Data-sharing between governments can make life easier for travellers, too. Optimists hope that a pilot programme between Estonia and neighbouring Finland to share medical records, which enables travelling patients to pick up prescriptions in either country, could serve as a prototype. And because Estonia’s platforms are open, businesses can build upon them to provide their own services.

And another interesting article that is signalling the increasing call for alternative forms of self-governance.

Ex-diplomat Carne Ross: the case for anarchism

How a high-flying diplomat and Middle East adviser lost his faith in western democracy – but put his trust in people power
If you were to play a game of word association with the term “anarchism” what would be the likely responses? Perhaps the anarchy sign, with the capital A over a circle. Black flags. The turn-of-the-century bombers immortalised by Joseph Conrad in The Secret Agent. Or maybe Johnny Rotten singing Anarchy in the UK.

What it would be unlikely to evoke is the image of an English diplomat, a veteran of the Foreign Office and the United Nations, a man schooled in the subtle arts of negotiation and persuasion. But that is the profile of Carne Ross, a former Middle East expert in the UK’s delegation to the UN, who is said to be the inspiration for a character in John le CarrĂ©’s novel A Delicate Truth. For Ross, as a new film shows, is now of one of world’s most active proselytisers for the virtues of an anarchist revolution.

With anarchism hardly top of the political agenda, that may sound like a limited claim to fame, akin to being the world’s tallest pygmy. In fact, anarchist ideas are taking root everywhere from Grenfell Tower to Rojava, the Kurd-run area of northern Syria.
Anarchism as a political outlook is rooted in the notion of direct democracy, a polity in which power moves from the bottom upwards. Many of those protesting at the Grenfell Tower fire argue that it was a symptom of a politics that goes in the other direction, from the uncaring top down to the unheard bottom. Ross not only wants to reverse what he sees as a failed kind of democracy, but believes the crisis of “neoliberalism” has created the conditions in which people are beginning to voice their disapproval of the status quo.

Here’s a signal that may sort of blend anarchy and corporate governance - at least related to finance technology.
“One of our goals was to make it ridiculously easy to roll [blockchains] out,” he said. “Now we’re at the next phase of—now I’ve got this blockchain, what do I do with it? So we’re kind of stuck on that piece right now.”   

The Corporate Blockchain

Hundreds of financiers, Wall Street analysts, and C-suite executives gathered in New York City this week to peer into the future of finance at the CB Insights’ Future of Fintech conference. And on Wednesday afternoon, they took a moment to ponder one of the greatest existential threats to their industry—and how they might turn it to their advantage.

Attendees crammed into a standing-room-only session to hear about the role that blockchains would play in existing businesses. To many in finance, it’s a perplexing topic. After all, the Bitcoin blockchain was long ago predicted to render modern finance—and financial firms—obsolete.

Instead, many financial firms have embraced blockchain technology, and even become rather bullish about it in the process. But companies have also found that preparing a blockchain to go live, and integrating it with existing systems, can be a daunting process.

Up on stage, and tasked with guiding the crowd through its mixed bag of emotions, were: Marley Gray, principal program manager for Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain Engineering; Joe Lubin, founder of the blockchain consulting firm ConsenSys; and Rumi Morales, executive director of CME Ventures, the investment arm of CME Group which manages the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Gray set the tone for the discussion from his vantage point at Microsoft, which offers a platform that it calls blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) to help companies build their own blockchain-based networks and applications. As a result, Gray has seen how early experiments have fared across many industries.

Many banks and stock exchanges are on the cusp of moving from pilots and proof-of-concepts to actual blockchain implementations. Morales, who has overseen her firm’s investments into Ripple and Digital Currency Group(which owns the cryptocurrency news site CoinDesk and has funded Coinbase, a trading service), suggested the industry is facing a moment of truth.

Most of us think of Amazon as an online book company - but it’s much more than that. This is a wonderful infographic that shows very simply the vast reaches of Amazon - current as well as future trajectories.

The Jeff Bezos Empire in One Giant Chart

With a fortune largely tied to his 78.9 million shares of Amazon, the net worth of Jeff Bezos continues to be on the rise.

Just days ago, Amazon shares reached all-time highs after the company’s ambitious acquisition of Whole Foods. This puts Bezos just $4 billion away from displacing Bill Gates as the world’s number one billionaire – and if the stock continues upwards, he could take the title any day.

We’ve previously showed how Bezos built Amazon from scratch, but today’s infographic focuses on the extent and reach of Jeff Bezos and his Amazon Empire.

This is another signal outlining the advent of algorithmic intelligence, although AI is already writing many stories in certain newspapers.

Press Association wins Google grant to run news service written by computers

News agency gets €706,000 to use AI for creation of up to 30,000 local stories a month in partnership with Urbs Media
Robots will help a national news agency to create up to 30,000 local news stories a month, with the help of human journalists and funded by a Google grant.
The Press Association has won a €706,000 (£621,000) grant to run a news service with computers writing localised news stories.

The national news agency, which supplies copy to news outlets in the UK and Ireland, has teamed up with data-driven news start-up Urbs Media for the project, which aims to create “a stream of compelling local stories for hundreds of media outlets”.

It won one of the largest grants to date from Google’s Digital News Initiative (DNI), which is aimed at supporting innovation in European digital journalism. PA and Urbs Media will set up Radar – Reporters And Data And Robots – to produce thousands of stories each month.

PA’s editor-in-chief, Peter Clifton, said journalists will still be involved in spotting and creating stories and will use artificial intelligence to increase the amount of content. He said: “Skilled human journalists will still be vital in the process, but Radar allows us to harness artificial intelligence to scale up to a volume of local stories that would be impossible to provide manually. It is a fantastic step forward for PA.”

Having AI write news stories may seems scary for journalists - but this next thing bring the notion of Fake News to a whole new level - beyond what we’ve grown used to with photoshop. You have to see the 2 min video to see exactly how scary this could be.

AI Creates Fake Obama

Artificial intelligence software could generate highly realistic fake videos of former president Barack Obama using existing audio and video clips of him, a new study [PDF] finds.

Such work could one day help generate digital models of a person for virtual reality or augmented reality applications, researchers say.

Computer scientists at the University of Washington previously revealed they could generate digital doppelgängers of anyone by analyzing images of them collected from the Internet, from celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Arnold Schwarzenegger to public figures such as George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Such work suggested it could one day be relatively easy to create such models of anybody, when there are untold numbers of digital photos of everyone on the Internet.

The researchers chose Obama for their latest work because there were hours of high-definition video of him available online in the public domain. The research team had a neural net analyze millions of frames of video to determine how elements of Obama's face moved as he talked, such as his lips and teeth and wrinkles around his mouth and chin.

One possible institutional innovation that can be enacted in the face of emerging galactic data and algorithmic intelligence could be national and international ‘Auditor Generals of Algorithms’. The need to ensure that algorithms are and continue to do what their creators claim they are doing and what users trust they are doing is an important contributor to the trust necessary to make the most productive and useful advances appropriate to open and democratic societies.

Biased Algorithms Are Everywhere, and No One Seems to Care

The big companies developing them show no interest in fixing the problem.
Opaque and potentially biased mathematical models are remaking our lives—and neither the companies responsible for developing them nor the government is interested in addressing the problem.

This week a group of researchers, together with the American Civil Liberties Union, launched an effort to identify and highlight algorithmic bias. The AI Now initiative was announced at an event held at MIT to discuss what many experts see as a growing challenge.

Algorithmic bias is shaping up to be a major societal issue at a critical moment in the evolution of machine learning and AI. If the bias lurking inside the algorithms that make ever-more-important decisions goes unrecognized and unchecked, it could have serious negative consequences, especially for poorer communities and minorities. The eventual outcry might also stymie the progress of an incredibly useful technology (see “Inspecting Algorithms for Bias”).

Algorithms that may conceal hidden biases are already routinely used to make vital financial and legal decisions. Proprietary algorithms are used to decide, for instance, who gets a job interview, who gets granted parole, and who gets a loan.

Fundamental to the emerging Digital Environment, Digital Nations and their infrastructures and to open flourishing of democratic societies is the need for access to data, not just ‘big data’ or ‘Enormous’ data but perhaps ‘Galactic’ data. And the capacity to access all galactic sized databases. This means the need to develop more appropriate privacy and property regimes - after all - personal data is almost entirely created in social contexts (even our birthday) and the benefits to each individual and to societies collectively increase exponentially when data can be shared. At minimum the approach to protect the individual and society may be best ensure via recourse when damage is done - because privacy as making data personal property won’t prevent misuse but will foreclose on many unknowable opportunities to create value.
“It’s still early days for understanding algorithmic bias,” Crawford and Whittaker said in an e-mail. “Just this year we’ve seen more systems that have issues, and these are just the ones that have been investigated.”


ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER record-breaking AI research study released by Google—this time with results that are a reminder of a crucial business dynamic of the current AI boom. The ecosystem of tech companies that consumers and the economy increasingly depend on is traditionally said to be kept innovative and un-monopolistic by disruption, the process whereby smaller companies upend larger ones. But when competition in tech depends on machine learning systems powered by huge stockpiles of data, slaying a tech giant may be harder than ever.

Google’s new paper, released as a preprint Monday, describes an expensive collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. Their experiments on image recognition tied up 50 powerful graphics processors for two solid months, and used an unprecedentedly huge collection of 300 million labeled images (much work in image recognition uses a standard collection of just 1 million images). The project was designed to test whether it’s possible to get more accurate image recognition not by tweaking the design of existing algorithms but just by feeding them much, much more data.

Showing that more data can equal more performance out even at huge scale suggests that there could be even greater benefits to being a data-rich tech giant like Google, Facebook, or Microsoft than previously realized. Crunching Google’s giant dataset of 300 million images didn’t produce a huge benefit—jumping from 1 million to 300 million images increased the object detection score achieved by just 3 percentage points—but the paper’s authors say they think can widen that advantage by tuning their software to be better suited to super-large datasets. Even if that turns out not to be the case, in the tech industry small advantages can be important. Every incremental gain in the accuracy of self-driving car vision will be crucial, for example, and a small efficiency boost to a product that draws billions in revenue adds up fast.

Data hoarding is already well established as a defensive strategy among AI-centric companies. Google, Microsoft and others have open-sourced lots of software, and even hardware designs, but are less free with the kind data that makes such tools useful. Tech companies do release data: Last year, Google released a vast dataset drawn from more than 7 million YouTube videos, and Salesforce opened up one drawn from Wikipedia to help algorithms work with language. But Luke de Oliveira, a partner at AI development lab Manifold and a visiting researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, says that (as you might expect) such releases don’t usually offer much of value to potential competitors. “These are never datasets that are truly crucial for the continued market position of a product,” he says.

This is an interesting article - signaling the origin of chemical warfare and the need to understand the great complexity and benefit of protecting plants which includes enabling plants to shift their resource from self-protection (via chemicals, thorns, hard shells, etc) and toward more nutrition in the parts we eat.

Caterpillars Turn to Cannibalism: Study

Herbivores may take to omnivory and eat conspecifics when the plants they feed on produce unsavory protective chemicals.
When plants come under attack—by a hungry caterpillar, for instance—many of them activate defenses that make their foliage less tasty, less nutritious, or toxic. But until now, scientists weren’t sure what the consequences of these plant defenses were for the caterpillar. In a paper published today (July 10) in Nature Ecology & Evolution, researchers have shown that a tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) plant’s protections can encourage beet armyworm caterpillars (Spodoptera exigua) to cannibalize other caterpillars.

“We’ve known for a long time that herbivores do eat other insects, but so far people studying herbivory have kind of ignored that because it’s a lot easier to put herbivores in a neat bin in which they only eat plants,” says Michigan State University ecologist William Wetzel, who did not participate in the study. “And this is some of the first work to really incorporate the effects of cannibalism into plant-herbivore interactions.”

John Orrock, an ecologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, usually studies how animals behave when they’re at risk of being attacked, but became intrigued by the ability plants have to also respond to threats. “Plants aren’t just bystanders,” he says.

One of plants’ reactions is to produce nasty-tasting chemicals, and Orrock was curious how they affect herbivores. “Once the plant changes its chemistry, it occurred to us that the plant might become so untasty that a better item on the menu might be a fellow caterpillar,” he says.

This is a good signal about future potential developments related to brain-computer interface.

DARPA Wants Brain Implants That Record From 1 Million Neurons

DARPA is known for issuing big challenges. Still, the mission statement for its new Neural Engineering Systems Design program is a doozy: Make neural implants that can record high-fidelity signals from 1 million neurons.

Today’s best brain implants, like the experimental system that a paralyzed man used to control a robotic arm, record from just a few hundred neurons. Recording from 1 million neurons would provide a much richer signal that could be used to better control external devices such as wheelchairs, robots, and computer cursors.

What’s more, the DARPA program calls for the tech to be bidirectional; the implants must be able to not only record signals, but also to transmit computer-generated signals to the neurons. That feature would allow for neural prosthetics that provide blind people with visual information or deaf people with auditory info.

Today the agency announced the six research groups that have been awarded grants under the NESD program. In a press release, DARPA says that even the 1-million-neuron goal is just a starting point. “A million neurons represents a miniscule percentage of the 86 billion neurons in the human brain. Its deeper complexities are going to remain a mystery for some time to come,” says Phillip Alvelda, who launched the program in January. “But if we’re successful in delivering rich sensory signals directly to the brain, NESD will lay a broad foundation for new neurological therapies.”

Another interesting step in the progress of medical arts and sciences for treating disease.

Engineered cell therapy for cancer gets thumbs up from FDA advisers

Treatment shows promise in young people with leukaemia, but safety risks abound.
External advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have thrown their support behind a therapy that genetically engineers a patient’s own immune cells to target and destroy cancers.

In a unanimous vote on 12 July, the panel determined that the benefits of CAR-T therapy outweigh its risks. The vote comes as the agency considers whether to issue its first approval of a CAR-T therapy, for a drug called tisagenlecleucel, manufactured by Novartis of Basel, Switzerland.

The FDA is not obligated to follow the recommendations of its advisers, but it often does.
Novartis is seeking approval to use tisagenlecleucel to treat children and young adults who have a form of leukaemia called acute B-cell lymphoblastic leukaemia, and who have not responded sufficiently to previous treatment or have relapsed since that treatment. In the United States, about 15% of children and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia relapse.

Studies have shown that CAR-T therapies can produce lasting remissions in such cases. In one key trial of tisagenlecleucel, which started in 2015, 52 out of 63 participants — 82.5% — experienced overall remissions. The unpublished trial had no control group, so investigators cannot yet say with certainty how much effect the treatment had. But many participants of such trials have remained cancer-free for months or years.

Many of the FDA’s advisers were effusive in their praise. “This is a major advance, and is ushering in a new era,” said panel member Malcolm Smith, a paediatric oncologist at the US National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Timothy Cripe, an oncologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, called it one of the most exciting things he has seen in his lifetime.

But the therapy poses serious risks. During the 2015 tisagenlecleucel trial, 47% of participants experienced an extreme inflammatory reaction known as cytokine release syndrome, severe cases of which are called cytokine storms. The syndrome — characterized by symptoms such as high fevers and organ failure — can be life-threatening. But Novartis says trial clinicians were able to manage the reaction successfully in all cases.

This is an interesting signal of the ongoing development of exoskeleton augmentation for humans in work and play. The images are worth the view.

"Chairless chair" is designed to provide support for active factory workers

This flexible exoskeleton, designed by Swiss studio Sapetti, allows its wearer to sit down whenever and wherever they need to.

The Chairless Chair is designed primarily for manufacturing environments, where workers are required to stand for long periods of time and where traditional chairs would be an obstacle.

The wearable exoskeleton allows users to walk around freely but have instant support once they get into a bending, squatting or crouching position.

This would reduce the number of instances where employees feel physical strain, so could potentially reduce absences and early retirement.

This is a 7 min video visualizing the growth of the human population since 1 AD with markers for significant cultural developments - it’s a nice summary of the history of the last two thousand years.

Human Population Through the Past 200,000 Years

It took 200,000 years for our human population to reach 1 billion—and only 200 years to reach 7 billion, with temporary declines from events such as the Black Death. But growth has begun slowing, as women have fewer children on average. When will our global population peak? And how can we minimize our impact on Earth’s resources, even as we approach 11 billion?

Climate Change is upon us - although there is no consensus on how much humans will be able to mitigate this - especially in the short term. At minimum rising sea levels threaten a vast number of cities on coastlines. One has to keep in mind - that China provides one model of preparing and adapting for mass human migration as half a billion people will have migrated from rural to urban situations. This is another signal that - as the saying goes “never let a disaster go to waste’ - there are opportunities for the redesign and re-architecting of human societies in the near future.
'Floating ports and cities are an innovative solution which reflect the Dutch maritime tradition.'

Dutch researchers reveal radical plans for mile-wide 'floating islands' to combat rising sea levels

Made up of 87 floating triangles of different sizes, the huge, flexible island made of concrete or steel would eventually stretch 1.5 to two kilometres (one to 1.2 miles), or a total of three square kilometres.

Squeezed for space in this tiny northern European country, 'some cities are starting to look into floating solutions, like a floating park on the river for example, where they want to have an area for recreation close by the city centre,' Olaf Waals from the Maritime Research Institute of the Netherlands (MARIN) told AFP.

The researchers say their floating island would provide space for people to 'work and live on'.

If plans for floating islands go ahead it would be a twist in the history of this low-lying country, much of which down the centuries has been reclaimed from the sea and which is protected from the waters by an intricate system of dykes and canals.

'In these times of rising sea levels, overpopulated cities and a rising number of activities on the seas, building up the dykes and pumping out the sands is perhaps not the most efficient solution,' said Waals, referring to common methods to reclaim land.

I love my coffee - have for many years felt myself to be an aficionado - and in the last two years have bought green beans - and roasted them at home myself. This is another of a long line of research providing evidence of its health benefits.
“It’s really reassuring to see similar patterns across very diverse populations with different lifestyle and genetic susceptibilities,” says lead study author V. Wendy Setiawan, Ph.D., an associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.
In both studies, the benefits were similar among regular and decaf coffee drinkers. The protective effects of coffee may be due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, but researchers haven’t yet pinpointed the exact ones. “There are thousands of biologically active compounds in coffee and it’s hard to separate them,” says Setiawan. “The benefit could come from a combination of all these compounds working together.”

Drink Coffee and You May Live Longer

New research finds a link between your morning cup and longevity
Two large new studies published today in Annals of Internal Medicine provide even more evidence that your daily coffee ritual is likely a very healthy habit. While most previous coffee research has involved primarily Caucasian individuals in the U.S., both studies looked at more diverse populations and found that drinking coffee (regular or decaf) was associated with a reduced risk of dying from any cause.

In one of the studies, the largest to include nonwhites, researchers from the Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles tracked more than 185,000 African Americans, Japanese Americans, Latinos, Native Hawaiians, and whites for an average of 16 years. The results showed that you don’t have to over caffeinate yourself to get the health benefits of coffee. Those who consumed just one cup a day were 12 percent less likely to die over the course of the study than people who did not drink coffee. Drinking two or more cups daily reduced the risk of dying by 18 percent. (The results could not be extended to Native Hawaiians, however, because there were too few of them in the study for the researchers to draw conclusions.)

The other study involved more than 520,000 men and women. All were Caucasian, but they were from 10 different European countries. Men who drank the equivalent of three or more cups per day were 18 percent less likely to die during the 16-year follow-up period than non-coffee drinkers; women had an 8 percent reduced risk. In particular, coffee users had a lower risk of dying from circulatory and liver diseases and had reduced levels of key liver enzymes that, when elevated, can be an indicator of liver disease.

Here’s something for kids and the ‘childlike’ adults who have a creative streak. Once you have a 3D model - there is one more step to transform the model into layers and then it’s ready for 3D printing.

Tinkercad features

Tinkercad is an easy, browser-based 3D design and modeling tool for all. Tinkercad allows users to imagine anything and then design it in minutes.

For those who are willing to buy either HTC’s VIVE or Occulus Rift - this new online application is awesome - the video is worth the view even if you’re not going to buy the 3D head gear.

Introducing Blocks

Create beautiful 3D models in no time

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