Thursday, November 16, 2017

Friday Thinking 17 Nov. 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



...the most feasible solution — however difficult and complex it may seem — is probably universal basic income (proposed by, among others, Milton Friedman). Everyone, from childhood to old age, gets a minimal basic income that covers bare necessities, so that they can exist safely in the gig economy. That would truly grow the economy from the bottom up. We would get rid of dereliction and of the humiliating exercise of proving you need public assistance. Basic money would be there in an ATM for each person, deposited every month. The ones that earn enough (and the millionaires, of course) would quickly return the money in taxes. In the end, only those who really need it will be a cost to society, probably not much more than is now spent in unemployment insurance, child support payments, the costs of dealing with dereliction and hunger-related crime and the salaries of the bureaucrats who do the means testing and make the decisions. They can go on to more creative jobs.

Are We on the Verge of a New Golden Age?

When physicists started working with quantum mechanics they realized that the totally ordered real numbers are too restrictive for their needs. They required a number system with fewer axioms. They found the complex numbers.

When Albert Einstein wanted to describe general relativity, he realized that the mathematical structure of Euclidean space with its axiom of flatness (Euclid’s fifth axiom) was too restrictive. He needed curved, non-Euclidian space to describe the spacetime of general relativity.

In quantum mechanics it is known that for some systems, if we first measure X and then Y, we will get different results than first measuring Y and then measuring X. In order to describe this situation mathematically, one needed to leave the nice world of commutativity. They required the larger class of structures where commutativity is not assumed.

When Boltzmann and Gibbs started talking about statistical mechanics, they realized that laws they were coming up with were no longer deterministic. Outcomes of experiments no longer either happen (p(X) = 1) or do not happen (p(X) = 0). Rather, with statistical mechanics one needs probability theory. The chance of a certain outcome of an experiment is a probability (p(X)) is an element of the infinite set [0,1] rather than the restrictive finite subset {0,1}).

When scientists started talking about the logic of quantum events, they realized that the usual logic, which is distributive, is too restrictive. They needed to formulate the larger class of logics in which the distributive axiom does not necessarily hold true. This is now called quantum logic.

If the structure that we see is illusory and comes about from the way we look at certain phenomena, then why do we see this illusion? Instead of looking at the laws of nature that are formulated by scientists, we have to look at scientists and the way they pick out (subsets of phenomena and their concomitant) laws of nature. What is it about human beings that renders us so good at being sieves? Rather than looking at the universe, we should look at the way we look at the universe.

Chaos Makes the Multiverse Unnecessary

Both the individual and the social are sides of the same process of communication. The individual is the singular of interdependence while the social is the plural. In this way of thinking, we leave behind the notion of the self-governing, independent individual for a different notion, of interdependent people whose identities are established in interaction with each other.

Our attention is a result of the filters we use. These filters can be a mix of habits, media channels and tools. Increasingly these filters are social. They are the people in our network who we recognize.
Our most valuable guides to useful bits of insight are other people, people whose activities we can see and follow to help us advance and make sense.

There can hardly be a follower without a leader. A lot of management research has focused on the leadership attributes of an individual in a hierarchical system. Leading and following in the traditional sense have seen the leader making people follow him or her through obligation or motivation and rewards. The leader also decided who the followers should be.

The relationship was asymmetric.
Leading and following when seen as a two-sided, symmetric relationship, not as attributes of individuals, charts a very different dynamic. Leading in this new sense is not position-based, but situational and recognition based.

The leader is someone people trust to be at the forefront in the area, the context, which is temporally meaningful for them.
The relationship is symmetric.

People recognize as the leader someone who inspires and enables them in the present. Another difference from traditional management is that because of the diversity of contexts people necessarily link to, there can never be just one “boss”. You might even claim that from the point of view taken here; it is highly problematic if a person only has one leader. It would mean attention blindness as a default state creating cognitive scarcity, and even worse, a single point of failure.

An individual should always have many leaders as a new default state.

Identity is a dynamic pattern in time.
The still largely untapped opportunity provided by the zero distance social media lies in the widening and deepening of communication. Richer, more challenging, more exploratory conversations leave people feeling more alive, more inspired and capable of far more creative and meaningful action.

Esko Kilpi - The leaders we need

“The skill requirements in jobs have increased remarkably in their depth and breadth,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, research professor and director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “The pace of change is outrunning the ability of educators to provide those skills and to qualify people for entry-level jobs.”

Jobs that require a master’s degree are projected to grow three times as quickly as jobs for people with only a high school diploma. Of the 30 fastest-growing occupations, 19 typically require some sort of postsecondary education, according to the BLS figures.

“It’s a different world,” said Carnevale. “The demand for skills has increased and the effect of technology during the recession was to kill off the high school jobs. The trend line is a shift toward postsecondary education or training.”

How to best prepare students for workplace changes brought on by automation and other technologies, however, is not yet clear among educators and labor experts. “Everywhere I look, the message is all about the impact of artificial intelligence and drones on the future of work,” said Nancy Hoffman, senior advisor and co-founder of the Pathways to Prosperity Network, which seeks to help prepare young people for the workforce. “School systems need to change, but they needed to change fifty years ago, too. Our schools are way behind in terms of technology and helping our young people understand the labor market and plan a career.”

She and other workforce experts stressed that as educators try to equip young people for future jobs, they will have to move more quickly to connect the dots between high schools and the labor market, especially for disadvantaged students.

“As the gig economy grows, we are in a different situation: These jobs depend on social capital, networking skills, and these things are completely lacking in the education systems,” said Hoffman. “If we don’t pay attention, those without these networks and social connections will be left entirely behind.”

Without changes in education, future of work will leave more people behind

This is a long read - but well worth it. It is an analysis of phase transitions in our social-economic-political societies since the Industrial Revolution. This is an analysis that can prepare us to enact the legislative and protective framework for a global prosperity - such as Rifkin’s Zero Marginal Cost Society.

Are We on the Verge of a New Golden Age?

A long-wave theory of technological and economic change suggests the financial malaise that began in 2007 may be about to end.
History doesn’t exactly repeat itself, but it does run in cycles. One of the most robust theories of such cycles was articulated by economic historian Carlota Perez, in her influential book Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages (Edward Elgar, 2002). It suggests that humanity can get through the current period of upheaval and economic malaise and enter a new “golden age” of broad economic growth, if the world’s key decision makers act in concert to help foster one.

This may seem far-fetched, but it’s happened four times before. We are in the midst of the fifth great surge (as Perez calls them) of technological and economic change since the Industrial Revolution. The last one, the age of oil, automobiles, and mass production, lasted most of the 20th century and still shapes many people’s attitudes. Our current surge started around 1970 and has rolled out information and communications technology around the world: It is the age of the computer and the Internet (see Exhibit 1).

First, there is a wave of major new technologies, leading to dramatic changes in industrial production and daily life. For about 20 to 30 years, in a period that Perez calls installation, these technologies are funded largely by speculative investment chasing rapid returns. This age of widening wealth disparity leads to a bubble, which bursts in spectacular fashion, and is followed by a crisis period that Perez calls the turning point. This phase of economic and social turbulence has varied in length from two years to 17. Many efforts to get back to normal are made, usually involving the regulation of financial excesses or the stimulation of production and employment. When the crisis ends, the third part of the cycle begins; it consists of 30 years or so of stable economic growth, with a high level of genuine return on investment, and an economy funded by production capital, not speculation. Perez calls this period deployment. It is experienced as a golden age: a wave of prosperity, lifting everyone’s fortunes, including those who felt left behind just a few years before. Eventually, the technological opportunities reach exhaustion, markets become saturated, and the cycle starts all over again

This Bloomberg article is worth the read - even if you only look at the graphics.
What also has to be held in mind - is the power and the fear of global political oligarchies - a question: Is there a panic running through their decisions?

The notion of Schumpeter's creative destruction is an interesting one to consider. The looming crisis - among others - may be the indication or opportunity to grasp a phase transition toward new business models appropriate to an emerging 'Zero Marginal Cost Society' (which includes near zero marginal cost energy and coordination & transaction costs).
It's not just business models that have to change - it's also the concept of money and value - essentially how do we value our values and create a better world. This looming crisis is not just American - these business models are globally entangled (e.g. see Paradise Papers )

A previous article posted asked - if we are on the verge of a new golden age - presupposes a necessary crisis to catalyze new perspectives that enable a crisis to be seized as opportunity. These opportunities represent changing boundary conditions - shifting the ‘attractor of efficiency’ away from the traditional organizational architectures toward a new boundary conditions of zero marginal costs shaping a corresponding ‘attractor’ enabling the business models of social computing.
It is interesting to also note that 'Apocalypse' means a 'lifting of the veil'
An apocalypse (Ancient Greek: ἀποκάλυψις apokálypsis, from ἀπό and καλύπτω, literally meaning "an uncovering") is a disclosure of knowledge or revelation. In religious contexts it is usually a disclosure of something hidden, "a vision of heavenly secrets that can make sense of earthly realities"

America’s ‘Retail Apocalypse’ Is Really Just Beginning

The so-called retail apocalypse has become so ingrained in the U.S. that it now has the distinction of its own Wikipedia entry.
The industry’s response to that kind of doomsday description has included blaming the media for hyping the troubles of a few well-known chains as proof of a systemic meltdown. There is some truth to that. In the U.S., retailers announced more than 3,000 store openings in the first three quarters of this year.

But chains also said 6,800 would close. And this comes when there’s sky-high consumer confidence, unemployment is historically low and the U.S. economy keeps growing. Those are normally all ingredients for a retail boom, yet more chains are filing for bankruptcy and rated distressed than during the financial crisis. That’s caused an increase in the number of delinquent loan payments by malls and shopping centers.

The reason isn’t as simple as Inc. taking market share or twenty-somethings spending more on experiences than things. The root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt—often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms. There are billions in borrowings on the balance sheets of troubled retailers, and sustaining that load is only going to become harder—even for healthy chains.

The debt coming due, along with America’s over-stored suburbs and the continued gains of online shopping, has all the makings of a disaster. The spillover will likely flow far and wide across the U.S. economy. There will be displaced low-income workers, shrinking local tax bases and investor losses on stocks, bonds and real estate. If today is considered a retail apocalypse, then what’s coming next could truly be scary.

The amount of retail debt considered risky is also rising. Over the past year, high-yield bonds outstanding gained 20 percent, to $35 billion, and the industry’s leveraged loans are up 15 percent, to $152 billion, according to Bloomberg data.

Even worse, this will hit as a record $1 trillion in high-yield debt for all industries comes due over the next five years, according to Moody’s. The surge in demand for refinancing is also likely to come just as credit markets tighten and become much less accommodating to distressed borrowers.

Is ‘perfect’ the enemy of the ‘good’ or of ‘getting better’? This is an important signal from RAND, about the decisions we make about automation and the looming phase transition in how we get things done, the change in the economics of business - as well as the future of work.
Another vital issue to hold in mind - with AI self-driving cars - the learning that happens with one event - become almost immediately available to all other self-driving cars - thus the speed of learning accelerates with more self-driving cars. This is not the case with human drivers.
“We can’t stand idly by while we wait for the perfect,” Rosekind said at a symposium in 2016. “We lost 35,200 lives on our roads last year. … If we wait for perfect, we’ll be waiting for a very, very long time. How many lives might we be losing if we wait?”
The researchers found that introducing autonomous vehicles when they are just better than human drivers—as opposed to nearly perfect—could save hundreds of thousands of lives over 30 years.

Why Waiting for Perfect Autonomous Vehicles May Cost Lives

Some people think autonomous vehicles must be nearly flawless before humans take their hands off the wheel. But RAND research shows that putting AVs on the road before they’re perfect improves the technology more quickly—and could save hundreds of thousands of lives over time.
When it comes to vehicles that drive themselves, perfection has a price. Requiring autonomous vehicles to be nearly flawless before putting them on the road could cost hundreds of thousands of lives, according to RAND researchers.

Just how safe autonomous vehicles need to be before they go on the market is a crucial question for policymakers. More than 37,000 people died in 2016 on U.S. roadways as a result of human drivers, yet studies show that people have little tolerance for mistakes made by machines. Some think autonomous vehicles need to be nearly perfect before they can be sold.

This is a vital signal for all of us concerned with the future of an open Internet.

Without net neutrality in Portugal, mobile internet is bundled like a cable package

The principle of net neutrality is simple: companies that connect you to the internet must treat all content equally. In policy terms, that means the government ensures internet service providers do not block, slow, or otherwise discriminate against certain content or applications.

In the US, this policy was enshrined in the Open Internet Order in 2015, when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed its strongest net neutrality policies to date.The current FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is now preparing to roll those back. His main objection, Pai told PBS, is that the rules hinder investment in expanding broadband. “My concern is that, by imposing those heavy-handed economic regulations on internet service providers big and small, we could end up disincentivizing companies from wanting to build out internet access to a lot of parts of the country, in low-income, urban and rural areas,” he said.

The proposal has sparked a backlash by critics who say it will result in a rich and poor internet. Companies willing to pay ISPs such as Verizon and Comcast will get faster, favored service. Companies unable or unwilling to fork out the cash will find it hard to compete, while customers may see their internet service offered in tiered “bundles,” similar to the way television channels are grouped by cable providers.

Consider Spain and Portugal. Lisbon-based telecommunications firm MEO has been rolling out mobile packages (link in Portuguese) that provide users with data plans limited to specific apps. Customers will be charged more for using data for apps outside the package relative to those in the preferred packages. It was not clear if companies paid to be included in the packages.

“[That’s] a huge advantage for entrenched companies, but it totally ices out startups trying to get in front of people which stifles innovation,” wrote Silicon Valley congressional representative Ro Khanna on Twitter. “This is what’s at stake and that’s why we have to save net neutrality.”

This is an important idea to keep in mind in these times of what seem like looming apocalypse.

How to win at evolution and survive a mass extinction

Congratulations! By being here, alive, you are one of history's winners -- the culmination of a success story four billion years in the making. The other 99 percent of species who have ever lived on earth are dead -- killed by fire, flood, asteroids, ice, heat and the cold math of natural selection. How did we get so lucky, and will we continue to win? In this short, funny talk, paleobiologist and TED Fellow Lauren Sallan shares insights on how your ancestors' survival through mass extinction made you who you are today.

Evolution is always less about sustaining and more about continual change.

Scientific Evidence Suggests That Human Cities Are Spawning New Species

The creatures that inhabit urban spaces with us are apparently evolving. A recent study suggests that new species of insects and animals are emerging because of the extreme environments in our polluted, concrete cities.
The environments in which we live are drastically different than they were even 100 years ago. Could this cause new species to emerge all around us? In a word — yes.

Modern cities are so different from previous human living circumstances that biology professors Marc Johnson, of University of Toronto, and Jason Munshi-South, of Fordham University in New York, are arguing that the creatures that share these urban spaces with us are actually evolving. Their paper on this evolution was published in Science this past Thursday.

In exploring scientific literature, Johnson and Munshi-South observed that in Tucson, Arizona, and Oxford, England, researchers have reported a growth in the size of the beaks of house finches and great tits to become more compatible with bird feeders. In Puerto Rico’s cities, the crested anole lizard is developing longer limbs and stickier toes — though the reason for this not yet confirmed.

In multiple locations, fish and pests are becoming resistant to human-made pollution and poison. There is even a new mosquito species that resides underground in sewers and subway tunnels. These examples are just a fraction of the animals that are transforming as a result of the dramatic changes humans have made to the environment.

This is a very long read - but totally fascinating exploration of epistemology - in the sense that how can we predict the possible changes of patterns that shape things. The images explain more clearly the implications for inability to predict a change of pattern. A key plus is that this is written by Stephen Wolfram - the author of Mathmatica.
Thompson’s book is an important inspiration for the concept that even though biological forms may at first look complicated, there can still be theories and explanations for them.


Is there a global theory for the shapes of fish? it’s the kind of thing I might feel encouraged to ask by my explorations of simple programs and the forms they produce. But for most of the history of biology, it’s not the kind of thing anyone would ever have asked. With one notable exception: D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson.

And it’s now 100 years since D’Arcy Thompson published the first edition of his magnum opus On Growth and Form—and tried to use ideas from mathematics and physics to discuss global questions of biological growth and form. Probably the most famous pages of his book are the ones about fish shapes….

Stretch one kind of fish, and it looks like another. Yes, without constraints on how you stretch. It’s not quite clear what this is telling one, and I don’t think it’s much. But just to ask the question is interesting, and On Growth and Formis full of interesting questions—together with all manner of curious and interesting answers.

This is a very interesting signal related to rapidly emerging capability to not only domesticate DNA but also gene expression - epigenetics.

Newly developed switch activates genes thousands of times better than nature

If scientists could precisely regulate gene expression, they could turn off the genes responsible for illness and disease and turn on those that enhance health and the immune system.

"This is why controlling gene expression is so fundamental," said Northwestern University's Julius Lucks. "Once you get a good handle on it, you can do anything."
For Lucks, having a "good" handle on gene expression might be an understatement. He and his team have developed a powerful and versatile tool that achieves gene activation thousands of times better than nature.

"All we did was make an RNA switch that turns a gene on," said Lucks, an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering in Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering. "But what really makes it awesome is that it's really, really, really good."

Supported by the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the Searle Funds at the Chicago Community Trust, the research was published online on October 19 in the journal Nature Communications. James Chappell, a postdoctoral fellow in Lucks's laboratory and now an assistant professor at Rice University, served as the paper's first author.

A very interesting signal of a breakthrough advance in our capacity to study and interface with the brain.

Tiny fibers open new windows into the brain

Three-in-one design allows genetic, chemical, optical, and electrical inputs and outputs.
For the first time ever, a single flexible fiber no bigger than a human hair has successfully delivered a combination of optical, electrical, and chemical signals back and forth into the brain, putting into practice an idea first proposed two years ago. With some tweaking to further improve its biocompatibility, the new approach could provide a dramatically improved way to learn about the functions and interconnections of different brain regions.

The new fibers were developed through a collaboration among material scientists, chemists, biologists, and other specialists. The results are reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience, in a paper by Seongjun Park, an MIT graduate student; Polina Anikeeva, the Class of 1942 Career Development Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Yoel Fink, a professor in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering, and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Gloria Choi, the Samuel A. Goldblith Career Development Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and 10 others at MIT and elsewhere.

The fibers are designed to mimic the softness and flexibility of brain tissue. This could make it possible to leave implants in place and have them retain their functions over much longer periods than is currently possible with typical stiff, metallic fibers, thus enabling much more extensive data collection. For example, in tests with lab mice, the researchers were able to inject viral vectors that carried genes called opsins, which sensitize neurons to light, through one of two fluid channels in the fiber. They waited for the opsins to take effect, then sent a pulse of light through the optical waveguide in the center, and recorded the resulting neuronal activity, using six electrodes to pinpoint specific reactions. All of this was done through a single flexible fiber just 200 micrometers across — comparable to the width of a human hair.

This is still definitely a weak signal - but it’s without a doubt a signal. The notion of uploading consciousness into a digital platform is at least a few decades old. And maybe many decades away - if at all. But this continues to be a ‘space to watch’ as a new evolutionary platform for life - especially as new computational paradigms become operational. There is a 3 min video as well.

Scientists Have Put a Worm’s Brain Into a Lego Robot’s Body - And It Works

The brainwaves of a parasitic roundworm are now driving a Lego robot.
When you think about it, the brain is really nothing more than a collection of electrical signals. If we can learn to catalogue those then, in theory, you can upload someone’s mind onto a computer, allowing them to live forever as a digital form of consciousness, just like in the Johnny Depp film Transcendence.

But it’s not just science fiction. Sure, scientists aren’t anywhere near close to achieving such  feat with humans (and even if they could, the ethics would be pretty fraught), but now an international team of researchers have managed to do just that with the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans.

C. elegans is a little nematodes that have been extensively studied by scientists - we know all of their genes and their nervous system has been analysed many times.
Now a collective called the OpenWorm project has mapped all the connections between the worm’s 302 neurons and managed to simulate them in software, as Marissa Fessenden reports for the Smithsonian.

The ultimate goal of the project is to completely replicate C. elegans as a virtual organism, but for now, they’ve only managed to simulate its brain, and they’ve now uploaded that into a simple Lego robot.

This is a very important signal about the future of medicine - soon sensors will provide more data than whether medication was in fact taken - but also significant data on the immediate impact of medications.
“When patients don’t adhere to lifestyle or medications that are prescribed for them, there are really substantive consequences that are bad for the patient and very costly,” said Dr. William Shrank, chief medical officer of the health plan division at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

First Digital Pill Approved to Worries About Biomedical ‘Big Brother’

For the first time, the Food and Drug Administration has approved a digital pill — a medication embedded with a sensor that can tell doctors whether, and when, patients take their medicine.

The approval, announced late on Monday, marks a significant advance in the growing field of digital devices designed to monitor medicine-taking and to address the expensive, longstanding problem that millions of patients do not take drugs as prescribed.

Experts estimate that so-called nonadherence or noncompliance to medication costs about $100 billion a year, much of it because patients get sicker and need additional treatment or hospitalization.

As Ray Kurzweil notes - the longer you live the longer you will be able to live. He claims this because of the ongoing trajectory of exponential advances in the sciences and technologies. Here’s an important signal that may just increase human life-expectancy.

To stay young, kill zombie cells

Killing off cells that refuse to die on their own has proved a powerful anti-ageing strategy in mice. Now it's about to be tested in humans.
Jan van Deursen was baffled by the decrepit-looking transgenic mice he created in 2000. Instead of developing tumours as expected, the mice experienced a stranger malady. By the time they were three months old, their fur had grown thin and their eyes were glazed with cataracts. It took him years to work out why: the mice were ageing rapidly, their bodies clogged with a strange type of cell that did not divide, but that wouldn't die.

That gave van Deursen and his colleagues at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, an idea: could killing off these 'zombie' cells in the mice delay their premature descent into old age? The answer was yes. In a 2011 study, the team found that eliminating these 'senescent' cells forestalled many of the ravages of age. The discovery set off a spate of similar findings. In the seven years since, dozens of experiments have confirmed that senescent cells accumulate in ageing organs, and that eliminating them can alleviate, or even prevent, certain illnesses (see 'Becoming undead'). This year alone, clearing the cells in mice has been shown to restore fitness, fur density and kidney function. It has also improved lung disease and even mended damaged cartilage. And in a 2016 study, it seemed to extend the lifespan of normally ageing mice.

“Just by removing senescent cells, you could stimulate new tissue production,” says Jennifer Elisseeff, senior author of the cartilage paper and a biomedical engineer at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. It jump-starts some of the tissue's natural repair mechanisms, she says.

This is a fascinating signal - worth the read. A new understanding of proteins and quantum - a long way from biocomputing - but…..
“In our experiments, we were seeing this weird behaviour in this huge protein conducting electricity, but it is not static. It’s a dynamic thing,”

A Protein Has Been Caught Conducting Electricity, And Scientists Are Baffled

Proteins, the building blocks in every cell, have usually been thought of as blobs of inert organic matter. Now scientists have caught one particular protein doing something incredible: conducting electricity.

If the findings can be replicated and used, we could have ourselves a powerful new diagnostic tool for medical use, capable of identifying single protein molecules with a little blip of electrical current.

The idea is there are three curves in energy level distributions for proteins: one corresponding to a metallic or conducting state, one to an insulator state, and the middle one to that quantum critical state between the two.

With the help of Vattay and some supercomputer modelling, the researchers were able to match their alphaVbeta3 protein domain to that quantum critical state.

In further experiments using a more refined setup, the scientists were able to create a device that switched the electrical conductance of the protein on and off.

Ramez Naam is both a futurist-journalist and at the forefront of some interesting Speculative Fiction explorations of the impact of the convergence of Cognitive and Material Sciences - how humans will eventually transform themselves and how along with other sciences and renewable energy we are transforming our cultural-political-economies- this is a 35 min podcast - well worth the listen

Future of Invasive Neural Interfaces & Uploading Consciousness with Ramez Naam

Ramez Naam is the author of The Nexus Trilogy sci-fi novels, which explores the moral and sociological implications of technology that can directly interface with the brain. He gave the keynote at the Experiential Technology Conference in March exploring the latest research into how these interfaces could change the way that we sleep, learn, eat, find motivation to exercise, create new habits of change, and broadcast and receive technologically-mediated telepathic messages.

I had a chance to catch up with him after his talk where we do a survey of existing technologies, where the invasive technologies are headed, the philosophical and moral implications of directly transferring data into the brains, and whether or not it’ll be possible to download our consciousness onto a computer.

Some good news - another signal that humans are shaping the earth.

The Earth's Ozone Hole Is Shrinking And Is Now The Smallest It's Been Since 1988

Here's a rare piece of good news about the environment: The giant hole in the Earth's protective ozone layer is shrinking and has shriveled to its smallest peak since 1988, NASA scientists said.

The largest the hole became this year was about 7.6 million square miles wide (19.7 million square kilometres wide), about two and a half times the size of the United States, in September.

But it was still 1.3 million square miles (3.4 square kilometres) smaller than last year, scientists said, and has shrunk more since September.

For the love of the clear and understandable Word - a 5 min video.

Beware of nominalizations (AKA zombie nouns) - Helen Sword

Few mistakes sour good writing like nominalizations, or, as Helen Sword likes to call them, zombie nouns. Zombie nouns transform simple and straightforward prose into verbose and often confusing writing. Keep your nouns away from the elongating nominalizations!

Very Cool
Is this is the next frontier of amateur droners? A 2 min video.

Presenting the Blueye Pioneer Underwater Drone

We know more about the moon than the ocean. Why haven’t we explored more? It’s certainly not a lack of curiosity. Perhaps the right tool didn’t exist. Until now.

Introducing the Blueye Pioneer Underwater Drone developed in Norway. Suitable for both professional and recreational use - it’s all about having the opportunity to view, explore and learn about the deep.

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