Thursday, September 27, 2018

Friday Thinking 28 Sept 2018

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. Work that engages our whole self becomes play that works. Techne = Knowledge-as-Know-How :: Technology = Embodied Know-How  

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



How can we prepare ourselves and our children for a world of such unprecedented transformations and radical uncertainties? A baby born today will be thirty-something in 2050. If all goes well, that baby will still be around in 2100, and might even be an active citizen of the 22nd century. What should we teach that baby that will help him or her survive and flourish in the world of 2050 or of the 22nd century? What kind of skills will he or she need in order to get a job, understand what is happening around them and navigate the maze of life?

Unfortunately, since nobody knows how the world will look in 2050 – not to mention 2100 – we don’t know the answer to these questions. Of course, humans have never been able to predict the future with accuracy. But today it is more difficult than ever before, because once technology enables us to engineer bodies, brains and minds, we can no longer be certain about anything – including things that previously seemed fixed and eternal.

A thousand years ago, in 1018, there were many things people didn’t know about the future, but they were nevertheless convinced that the basic features of human society were not going to change. If you lived in China in 1018, you knew that by 1050 the Song Empire might collapse, the Khitans might invade from the north, and plagues might kill millions. However, it was clear to you that even in 1050 most people would still work as farmers and weavers, rulers would still rely on humans to staff their armies and bureaucracies, men would still dominate women, life expectancy would still be about 40, and the human body would be exactly the same. Hence in 1018, poor Chinese parents taught their children how to plant rice or weave silk, and wealthier parents taught their boys how to read the Confucian classics, write calligraphy or fight on horseback – and taught their girls to be modest and obedient housewives. It was obvious these skills would still be needed in 1050.

In contrast, today we have no idea how China or the rest of the world will look in 2050. We don’t know what people will do for a living, we don’t know how armies or bureaucracies will function, and we don’t know what gender relations will be like. Some people will probably live much longer than today, and the human body itself might undergo an unprecedented revolution thanks to bioengineering and direct brain-computer interfaces. Much of what kids learn today will likely be irrelevant by 2050.

Yuval Noah Harari on what the year 2050 has in store for humankind

‘I think, therefore I am,’ the 17th-century philosopher René Descartes proclaimed as a first truth. That truth was rediscovered in 1887 by Helen Keller, a deaf and blind girl, then seven years of age: ‘I did not know that I am. I lived in a world that was a no world … When I learned the meaning of “I” and “me” and found that I was something,’ she later explained, ‘I began to think. Then consciousness first existed for me.’ As both these pioneers knew, a fundamental part of conscious experience is ‘inner speech’ – the experience of verbal thought, expressed in one’s ‘inner voice’. Your inner voice is you.

That voice isn’t the sound of anything. It’s not even physical – we can’t observe it or measure it in any direct way. If it’s not physical, then we can arguably only attempt to study it by contemplation or introspection; students of the inner voice are ‘thinking about thinking’, an act that feels vague. William James, the 19th-century philosopher who is often touted as the originator of American psychology, compared the act to ‘trying to turn up the gas quickly enough to see how the darkness looks’.

Yet through new methods of experimentation in the last few decades, the nature of inner speech is finally being revealed. In one set of studies, scans are allowing researchers to study the brain regions linked with inner speech. In other studies, researchers are investigating links between internal and external speech – that which we say aloud.

The inner voice

Basically, when you get to my age, you'll really measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to have love you actually do love you.

I know many people who have a lot of money, and they get testimonial dinners and they get hospital wings named after them. But the truth is that nobody in the world loves them.

That's the ultimate test of how you have lived your life. The trouble with love is that you can't buy it. You can buy sex. You can buy testimonial dinners. But the only way to get love is to be lovable. It's very irritating if you have a lot of money. You'd like to think you could write a check: I'll buy a million dollars' worth of love. But it doesn't work that way. The more you give love away, the more you get.

So let me get this straight: The most important lesson and "the ultimate test" of a life well-lived has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the most powerful emotion a human being can feel: love.

Warren Buffett Says Your Greatest Measure of Success at the End of Your Life Comes Down to 1 Word

An interesting 15 min TED Talks on the possibilities of AI - unleashing the human spirit from routine work and enabling a focus for humans to pursue 'labors of love'.

How AI can save our humanity

AI is massively transforming our world, but there's one thing it cannot do: love. In a visionary talk, computer scientist Kai-Fu Lee details how the US and China are driving a deep learning revolution -- and shares a blueprint for how humans can thrive in the age of AI by harnessing compassion and creativity. "AI is serendipity," Lee says. "It is here to liberate us from routine jobs, and it is here to remind us what it is that makes us human."  
For more on the presenter - Dr. Kai-Fu Lee  here’s his website
Also here he is talking with Peter Diamandis

Kai-Fu Lee + Future of AI

In this webinar, Peter speaks with Kai-Fu Lee - One of the world's most respected experts on AI. The discussion covers how Artificial Intelligence is reshaping the world as we know it. Topics include - How AI will transform every major industry and impact our lives, and if technology is killing jobs, and robot and human co-existence.

This is a great signal of how humans augmented with AI are better then each by themselves.
“It went really well,” says Matthew Lungren, a pediatric radiologist at Stanford University Medical School, coauthor on the paper and one of the eight participants. “Before, we had to show [an X-ray] to multiple people separately and then figure out statistical ways to bring their answers to one consensus. This is a much more efficient and, frankly, more evidence-based way to do that.”

AI-Human “Hive Mind” Diagnoses Pneumonia

A small group of doctors moderated by AI algorithms made a more accurate diagnosis than individual physicians or AI alone
First, it correctly predicted the top four finishers at the Kentucky Derby. Then, it was better at picking Academy Award winners than professional movie critics—three years in a row. The cherry on top was when it prophesied that the Chicago Cubs would end a 108-year dry spell by winning the 2016 World Series—four months before the Cubs were even in the playoffs. (They did.)

Now, this AI-powered predictive technology is turning its attention to an area where it could do some real good—diagnosing medical conditions.

In a study presented on Monday at the SIIM Conference on Machine Intelligence in Medical Imaging in San Francisco, Stanford University doctors showed that eight radiologists interacting through Unanimous AI’s “swarm intelligence” technology were better at diagnosing pneumonia from chest X-rays than individual doctors or a machine-learning program alone.

It was a small study, but the findings suggest that instead of replacing doctors, AI algorithms might work best alongside them in health care.

The advent of AI and robotics may eliminate many types of work - but it may also enable many to be able to work at jobs they weren’t previously able to do.
“I want to create a world in which people who can’t move their bodies can work too,” said Kentaro Yoshifuji, chief executive officer of Ory Lab. Inc., the developer of the robots.

Cafe utilizing robot waiters remotely controlled by disabled to open in Tokyo

A cafe will open in Tokyo’s Akasaka district in November featuring robot waiters remotely controlled from home by people with severe physical disabilities.
The cafe, which will be open on weekdays between Nov. 26 to Dec. 7, will deploy OriHime-D robots controlled by disabled people with conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a form of motor neuron disease.

The robot waiters, 1.2 meters tall and weighing 20 kg., will transmit video footage and audio via the internet, allowing their controllers to direct them from home via tablets or computers.

At an event marking the OriHime-D’s debut in August, a robot controlled by Nozomi Murata, who suffers from auto-phagic vacuolar myopathy that causes muscle weakness, asked a family if they would like some chocolate.

This is really a must view and read - some very interesting visuals of the system in action and a discussion of China’s Social Credit system from the point of view of two people. It seems to me that some form of social credit system is inevitable - the question is - will it support participatory democracy and egalitarian society or will it be a choice architecture for totalitarian surveillance society.

Leave no dark corner

China is building a digital dictatorship to exert control over its 1.4 billion citizens. For some, “social credit” will bring privileges — for others, punishment.
What may sound like a dystopian vision of the future is already happening in China. And it’s making and breaking lives.

The Communist Party calls it “social credit” and says it will be fully operational by 2020. Within years, an official Party outline claims, it will “allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step”.

Social credit is like a personal scorecard for each of China’s 1.4 billion citizens.
In one pilot program already in place, each citizen has been assigned a score out of 800. In other programs it’s 900.
Those, with top “citizen scores” get VIP treatment at hotels and airports, cheap loans and a fast track to the best universities and jobs.

Those at the bottom can be locked out of society and banned from travel, or barred from getting credit or government jobs.

The system will be enforced by the latest in high-tech surveillance systems as China pushes to become the world leader in artificial intelligence.
Surveillance cameras will be equipped with facial recognition, body scanning and geo-tracking to cast a constant gaze over every citizen.

A possible alternate view is a fragmentation of governance though emerging forms of criminal and other conflict.

The Coming Crime Wars

Future conflicts will mostly be waged by drug cartels, mafia groups, gangs, and terrorists. It is time to rethink our rules of engagement.
Wars are on the rebound. There are twice as many civil conflicts today, for example, as there were in 2001. And the number of nonstate armed groups participating in the bloodshed is multiplying. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), roughly half of today’s wars involve between three and nine opposing groups. Just over 20 percent involve more than 10 competing blocs. In a handful, including ongoing conflicts in Libya and Syria, hundreds of armed groups vie for control. For the most part, these warring factions are themselves highly fragmented, and today’s warriors are just as likely to be affiliated with drug cartels, mafia groups, criminal gangs, militias, and terrorist organizations as with armies or organized rebel factions.

This cocktail of criminality, extremism, and insurrection is sowing havoc in parts of Central and South America, sub-Saharan and North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Not surprisingly, these conflicts are defying conventional international responses, such as formal cease-fire negotiations, peace agreements, and peacekeeping operations. And diplomats, military planners, and relief workers are unsure how best to respond. The problem, it seems, is that while the insecurity generated by these new wars is real, there is still no common lexicon or legal framework for dealing with them. Situated at the intersection of organized crime and outright war, they raise tricky legal, operational, and ethical questions about how to intervene, who should be involved, and the requisite safeguards to protect civilians.

The Internet is in crisis - slowly becoming enclosed by corporate privateers and all of us should be considering transforming the Internet into public infrastructure. That said - Google is working hard to bring the Internet to areas where for-profit enterprises and competition among incumbents haven’t delivered.
"Instead of one balloon utilizing one ground-based connection point to serve users, we can use that same terrestrial access point to activate a network of multiple balloons, all of which can connect people below," explained Loon's head of engineering, Salvatore Candido.

Alphabet's Loon balloons just beamed the internet across 1000km

Loon engineers can now boost internet coverage using a web of balloons connected to a single ground access point.
Loon, the former Google X project and now independent Alphabet company, has developed an antenna system that could create a far greater ground coverage than previously possible.

According to Loon each of its balloons, from 20km above earth, can cover an area of about 80km in diameter and serve about 1,000 users on the ground using an LTE connection. However, Loon balloons need a backhaul connection from an access point on the ground and without that connection the balloons can't provide connectivity to users on the ground.

But on Tuesday the company revealed it had sent data across a network of seven balloons from a single ground connection spanning a distance of 1,000 kilometers, or about 621 miles.

It also achieved its longest ever point-to-point link, sending data between two balloons over a distance of 600km.

A good signal confirming McLuhan’s notion that the earth is now within a human-built environment - as as such is now a work of art - thus we must accept the challenge of becoming worthy artists. But we may also have to become improv artists in order to step-up to our response-ability to the continual challenge of complex change

NASA probe will track melting polar ice in unprecedented detail

The Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite can measure changes in ice thickness to within half a centimetre.
NASA is set to launch its most advanced global ice-monitoring satellite, which has been in the works for nearly a decade.

The agency plans to send the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) into space on 15 September atop a Delta 2 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It will focus on measuring changes in ice thickness in places including Greenland and Antarctica, but it will also collect data on forest growth and cloud height.

The satellite is designed to track seasonal and annual changes in ice thickness to within half a centimetre — a resolution greater than any previous elevation-monitoring satellite. The US$1-billion spacecraft will orbit 500 kilometres above Earth’s surface, and cover the globe every three months for the next three years.

Another signal about managing real-time information for complex systems bringing food security (on many levels) to bear on the entire food web.

How Blockchain Technology Could Track and Trace Food From Farm to Fork

IEEE standards working group is using the distributed ledger to improve and secure the supply chain
During a foodborne-illness outbreak, identifying the root cause of the contamination can be difficult. The food supply chain includes a lot of players—farmers, distributors, processors, packagers, and grocers—often from different regions or even multiple countries. Each business in the chain has its own private record-keeping system; some still use pen and paper.

An E. coli outbreak in the United States that began in April—the largest in more than a decade—came from tainted romaine lettuce that sickened more than 200 people in 36 states. It took government investigators two months to track the lettuce back to a grower in Yuma, Ariz.

Almost one in every 10 people around the world get a foodborne disease each year. Of those 600 million people, 420,000 die as a result, according to the World Health Organization.

IEEE and several other organizations are exploring how blockchain technology could track the source of an outbreak and help contain it. Rather than each company storing information in its own system, the businesses would contribute encrypted blocks of data to a distributed ledger that could be monitored and verified. Through data provenance, or proof of ownership, blockchain provides the ability to isolate where in the supply chain a problem occurred. This could lead to a more targeted recall process and create less risk for consumers and other stakeholders.

Bruce Sterling wrote ‘Shaping Things’ in which he coined the terms ‘Spime’ -  future-manufactured objects with informational support so extensive and rich that they are regarded as material instantiations of an immaterial system. Spimes are designed on screens, fabricated by digital means, and precisely tracked through space and time. They are made of substances that can be folded back into the production stream of future spimes, challenging all of us to become involved in their production. Spimes are coming, says Sterling. We will need these objects in order to live; we won't be able to surrender their advantages without awful consequences.
The concept of spime an object with a data tracker - like a near-field sensor or RFID chip - would enable people to track the life cycle of their goods - from factory to recycling. Perhaps we need to embrace such a concept - so that we don’t fall prey to artificially created scarcities. Then again maybe we will eventually have custom made products.

Why fashion brands destroy billions’ worth of their own merchandise every year

An expert explains why Burberry, H&M, Nike, and Urban Outfitters destroy unsold merch — and what it says about consumer culture.
The British luxury brand Burberry brought in $3.6 billion in revenue last year — and destroyed $36.8 million worth of its own merchandise.

In July 2018, the brand admitted in its annual report that demolishing goods was just part of its strategy to preserve its reputation of exclusivity.
Shoppers did not react well to this news. People vowed to boycott Burberry over its wastefulness, while members of Parliament demanded the British government crack down on the practice. The outrage worked: Burberry announced two weeks ago it would no longer destroy its excess product, effective immediately.

Yet Burberry is hardly the only company to use this practice; it runs high to low, from Louis Vuitton to Nike. Brands destroy product as a way to maintain exclusivity through scarcity, but the precise details of who is doing it and why are not commonly publicized. Every now and then, though, bits of information will trickle out. Last year, for example, a Danish TV station revealed that the fast-fashion retailer H&M had burned 60 tons of new and unsold clothes since 2013.

A signal of how to use AI on the big data we’ve been accumulating for decades.

Artificial intelligence helps track down mysterious cosmic radio bursts

Breakthrough Listen researchers used artificial intelligence to search through radio signals recorded from a fast radio burst, capturing many more than humans could. In fact, they now used machine learning to discover 72 new fast radio bursts from a mysterious source some 3 billion light years from Earth.

“This work is exciting not just because it helps us understand the dynamic behavior of fast radio bursts in more detail, but also because of the promise it shows for using machine learning to detect signals missed by classical algorithms,” said Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center and principal investigator for Breakthrough Listen, the initiative to find signs of intelligent life in the universe.

For the ‘anything that can be automated - will be’ file. The question remains on not the speed of delivery but the quality of the coffee or other drinks.

Robotic Coffee Shop Cafe X Gets You Coffee in Under 30 Seconds

The robot invasion of the food and beverage industry is well underway from bots making pizza and ice cream  to android waiters delivering your food. The next target seems to be your daily coffee.

San Francisco’s Café X is a robotic coffee shop that hopes to revolutionize and speed up the coffee process by employing an army of robots. It’s not really an army, more of an assembly line that quickly puts together your coffee. We emphasize quickly as they make your drink in under 30 seconds. No need to worry about getting the coffee exactly how you asked, the robotic precision gets your order right every time.

Robotics and AI are best seen as human enhancers (not including what will be possible in the transition enabled by domesticating DNA).
“As of today, signals from the brain can be used to command and control … not just one aircraft but three simultaneous types of aircraft,” said Justin Sanchez, who directs DARPA’s biological technology office, at the Agency’s 60th-anniversary event in Maryland.
“The signals from those aircraft can be delivered directly back to the brain so that the brain of that user [or pilot] can also perceive the environment,” said Sanchez. “It’s taken a number of years to try and figure this out.”

It’s Now Possible To Telepathically Communicate with a Drone Swarm

DARPA’s new research in brain-computer interfaces is allowing a pilot to control multiple simulated aircraft at once.
A person with a brain chip can now pilot a swarm of drones — or even advanced fighter jets, thanks to research funded by the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.

The work builds on research from 2015, which allowed a paralyzed woman to steer a virtual F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with only a small, surgically-implantable microchip. On Thursday, agency officials announced that they had scaled up the technology to allow a user to steer multiple jets at once.

More importantly, DARPA was able to improve the interaction between pilot and the simulated jet to allow the operator, a paralyzed man named Nathan, to not just send but receive signals from the craft.  

In essence, it’s the difference between having a brain joystick and having a real telepathic conversation with multiple jets or drones about what’s going on, what threats might be flying over the horizon, and what to do about them. “We’ve scaled it to three [aircraft], and have full sensory [signals] coming back. So you can have those other planes out in the environment and then be detecting something and send that signal back into the brain,” said Sanchez.  

The advance in domesticating DNA are bringing regular new insights to all domains of biology and even to the biocultural co-creating of beings - beyond the traditional nature-nurture polarity.
The very different individuals that arise from hive members’ identical genomes have made the honeybee “one of the most well-known and striking examples of phenotypic plasticity,” says Gene Robinson, a genomicist at the University of Illinois who was not involved in the study. Bees are a model, he says, for “understanding how environmental signals are transduced and then trigger these alternate developmental pathways.”

As Bees Specialize, So Does Their DNA Packaging

A study of chemical tags on histone proteins hints at how the same genome can yield very different animals.
The bee genome has a superpower. Not only can the exact same DNA sequence yield three types of insect—worker, drone, and queen—that look and behave very differently, but, in the case of workers, it dictates different sets of behaviors.

A key to the genome’s versatility seems to be epigenetic changes—chemical tags that, when added or removed from DNA, change the activity of a gene. Previous studies had shown distinct patterns of tags known as methyl groups on the genomes of bees performing different roles within their hives.

In a study published in Genome Research last month, Paul Hurd, an epigenetics researcher at Queen Mary University of London, and colleagues looked at a different type of epigenetic change: histone modifications. DNA wraps around histones, and chemical modifications to these proteins are thought to affect how available genes are to be transcribed.

And one more interesting signal about the rise of urban wildlife.

Urban bees are living healthier lives than rural bees

Bumblebees are making it in the city.
Research published in the Royal Society B found that bumblebees living in urban areas experience healthier lives than their counterparts in rural habitats. Their colonies are larger, better fed, and less prone to disease. Urban colonies also survive longer than their country cousins.

Researchers raised colonies of wild-caught bumblebees in agricultural and urban environments. Every week, the researchers would count the bee population in each hive three times.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Friday Thinking 21 Sept 2018

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. Work that engages our whole self becomes play that works. Techne = Knowledge-as-Know-How :: Technology = Embodied Know-How  

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



It’s the year 2038. The word “flavor” has fallen into disuse. Sugar is the new cigarettes, and we have managed to replace salt with healthy plants.
 We live in a society in which we eat fruit grown using genetics. We drink synthetic wine, scramble eggs that do not come from chickens, grill meat that was not taken from animals, and roast fish that never saw the sea.

Traditional farmers were left with no choice but to reinvent themselves, although very few had the capacity to adapt to the new kind of agriculture. Most of them were eliminated by robots. Vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli had seen soaring prices due to a lack of workers available to harvest them. The robots cut cost by 40%.

Agriculture is now mostly in the hands of the young generation, 70% of whom are college graduates and refer to themselves as “urban farmer-scientists.” They grow all kinds of plants in containers placed throughout cities, using efficient hydroponic setups and the latest technology to narrow the gap between citizens and their food. Farms are now located in cities and can be readily visited, but they now resemble an Apple Store more than a traditional farmstead.

In addition to this technology, the fields that remained for cultivation became sites for regenerative agricultural practices, a series of steps beyond what is required to obtain an organic label and which could contribute to combat climate change by locking carbon into the ground.

It’s the year 2038–here’s how we’ll eat 20 years in the future

All in all, we are still not at a place where digital platforms, of their own, can credibly provide an alternative to jobs.

Recent research found that people are looking to find work on platforms to diversify their income stream, provide a backup in case they lose their main job, make money from a passion, learn a new skill and explore new career and business opportunities.
These workers are “part-time” self-employed and still a minority in the labour market.

I think the future of work is not about creating jobs or matching supply and demand through online platforms. It’s about creating the right infrastructure for people to find multiple and better alternatives than a traditional employment and a policy environment that promotes a wide variety of work arrangements as a way to increase labour market participation and inclusion.

We have struggled to increase employment in recent years. Online talent platforms show real promise for injecting more transparency and dynamism into job markets. As people come to connect with work opportunities more efficiently, even larger economic ripple effects could be created in the years ahead. To capture these benefits, regulatory frameworks, corporate practices, and individual mindsets will have to change, along with technology.

With the right investments, a thoughtful approach, and continued innovation from the public and private sector, the world could move closer to the goal of a labor market that works.

How the Platform Economy Gives Superpowers to Freelancers

Financial and technical debt are now largely well-known concepts, and they play an enormously importantly role in organizations. But a third kind of debt exists — potentially more pernicious than either of its cousins — and anyone hoping to build a sustaining organization in the 21st century needs to understand it.

Last year, startup guru Steve Blank published, “Organizational Debt is like Technical Debt but worse.” In it, he introduced the concept of Organizational Debt. He defined it as “all the people/culture compromises made to ‘just get it done’ in the early stages of a startup.” The piece was shared thousands of times and sparked lots of conversation in the startup community. It seemed that the concept had struck a chord.

In spite of that success, the piece was too narrow in its focus. Organizational Debt is so much bigger than just a startup phenomenon. In fact, I believe the concept of Organizational Debt will turn out to be one of the most important concepts in the future of work. With that in mind, here’s an expanded definition to stir the pot.

Organizational Debt: The interest companies pay when their structure and policies stay fixed and/or accumulate as the world changes.

For example, a company’s travel budget may balloon one year, only to be restricted by a travel policy the next — a well intentioned control designed to reduce expense. If that policy starts costing more than it’s saving (e.g. by reducing commercial success due to a lack of facetime, frustrating top talent, etc.), it becomes an unacknowledged debt. The “interest” comes in the form of reduced speed, capacity, engagement, flexibility, and innovation that ultimately undermine the macro objectives of the firm: to survive, thrive, and achieve its purpose.

How To Eliminate Organizational Debt

This is a must read article by Bruno Latour - proposing the evolution of our concept of Gaia - of the earth as a self-regulating living system. This is highly relevant if we want to use the future in a way that can enable a flourishing world.

Gaia 2.0

According to Lovelock and Margulis's Gaia hypothesis, living things are part of a planetary-scale self-regulating system that has maintained habitable conditions for the past 3.5 billion years. Gaia has operated without foresight or planning on the part of organisms, but the evolution of humans and their technology are changing that. Earth has now entered a new epoch called the Anthropocene, and humans are beginning to become aware of the global consequences of their actions. As a result, deliberate self-regulation—from personal action to global geoengineering schemes—is either happening or imminently possible. Making such conscious choices to operate within Gaia constitutes a fundamental new state of Gaia, which we call Gaia 2.0. By emphasizing the agency of life-forms and their ability to set goals, Gaia 2.0 may be an effective framework for fostering global sustainability.

At first sight, the potential for a successful Gaia 2.0 does not seem promising. Despite large-scale mobilization of scientists, activists, and citizens, large parts of the human population are indifferent to the Anthropocene, and many deny anthropogenic climate change. In addition, there is no proof that consciousness in this context is anything but the belated and retrospective realization that mistakes had been made and might be partially redressed. Indeed, the first formulation of the Gaia hypothesis is almost exactly contemporary with what is now seen as the start of the Anthropocene. Furthermore, the examples of social Darwinism, sociobiology, and dialectical materialism suggest that drawing political lessons from nature is problematic.

Nevertheless, it is important to have a second look at the connection between the original Gaia concept and a possible Gaia 2.0, because the original Gaia has many traits that were not detectable in earlier notions of nature associated with the development of Western civilization. Before the Anthropocene, Western societies saw themselves as the only conscious agents in a passive material environment. Today, they must cope with the brutal reactions of living organisms that are continually reshaping their surroundings, creating in part their own conditions for survival. Gaia thus establishes a new continuity between humans and nonhumans that was not visible before—a relation between free agents. This understanding offers the potential to learn from features of Gaia to create a Gaia 2.0. We focus here on three of these features: autotrophy, networks, and heterarchy.

This is a nice summary of citizen science with a list of projects where would-be citizen-scientist can participate
“I think it’s extremely important that we have citizen science,” says Harvard geneticist George Church, who is director of the Personal Genome Project, one of the first serious genetics-related citizen science projects.

The Non-Scientist’s Guide to Contributing to Science

You don’t have to work in a lab to do real science. “Citizen science” offers everyone an opportunity to contribute — and technology has made it easier than ever.
In the burgeoning world of citizen science, anyone can be a scientist, or at least make a cameo in an experiment. Loosely defined as public participation in science, often through data collection, citizen science has existed in a variety of fields for decades (in some cases, centuries), including astronomy, with amateur astronomers collecting observations and taking photos, and ornithology, with amateur birders contributing data on breeding and migration. Now, citizen science is being integrated into the world of biology and medicine. The trend, which began less than a decade ago, is driven partly by the broader crowd-source phenomenon, cloud technology, and the rise of biopunks (or biohackers) who are creating their own studies to disrupt the industry. In a social media world where sharing TMI is the norm, it’s no longer a stretch to share your DNA for genome sequencing, your brainpower for dementia research or, well, your fecal matter, for gut research.

This is a 'weak' signal - but a signal nonetheless - of the possibilities in the 21st century - substantiating light - and transforming science back into practical alchemy building matter from vast reservoirs of light.

Scientists discover how to turn light into matter after 80-year quest

Imperial College London physicists have discovered how to create matter from light - a feat thought impossible when the idea was first theorised 80 years ago.

In just one day over several cups of coffee in a tiny office in Imperial's Blackett Physics Laboratory, three physicists worked out a relatively simple way to physically prove a theory first devised by scientists Breit and Wheeler in 1934.

Breit and Wheeler suggested that it should be possible to turn light into matter by smashing together only two particles of light (photons), to create an electron and a positron – the simplest method of turning light into matter ever predicted. The calculation was found to be theoretically sound but Breit and Wheeler said that they never expected anybody to physically demonstrate their prediction. It has never been observed in the laboratory and past experiments to test it have required the addition of massive high-energy particles.

The new research, published in Nature Photonics, shows for the first time how Breit and Wheeler's theory could be proven in practice. This 'photon-photon collider', which would convert light directly into matter using technology that is already available, would be a new type of high-energy physics experiment. This experiment would recreate a process that was important in the first 100 seconds of the universe and that is also seen in gamma ray bursts, which are the biggest explosions in the universe and one of physics' greatest unsolved mysteries.

Talking about new forms of matter - this is a great signal promising the capacity of superconductors to be cheaper and more widespread.

A new hydrogen-rich compound may be a record-breaking superconductor

Material appears to transmit electricity without resistance at a relatively high temperature
Superconductors are heating up, and a world record-holder may have just been dethroned.
Two studies report evidence of superconductivity — the transmission of electricity without resistance — at temperatures higher than seen before. The effect appears in compounds of lanthanum and hydrogen squeezed to extremely high pressures.
All known superconductors must be chilled to function, which makes them difficult to use in real-world applications. If scientists found a superconductor that worked at room temperature, the material could be integrated into electronic devices and transmission wires, potentially saving vast amounts of energy currently lost to electrical resistance. So scientists are constantly on the lookout for higher-temperature superconductors. The current record-holder, hydrogen sulfide, which also must be compressed, works below 203 kelvins, or about −70° Celsius (SN: 12/26/15, p. 25).

The new evidence for superconductivity is based on a dramatic drop in the resistance of the lanthanum-hydrogen compounds when cooled below a certain temperature. One team of physicists found that their compound’s resistance plummeted at a temperature of 260 kelvins (−13° C), the temperature of a very cold winter day. The purported superconductivity occurred when the material had been crushed with almost 2 million times the pressure of Earth’s atmosphere by squeezing it between two diamonds. Some samples even showed signs of superconductivity at higher temperatures, up to 280 kelvins (about 7° C), physicist Russell Hemley of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues report in a study posted online August 23 at Hemley first reported signs of the compound’s superconductivity in May in Madrid at a symposium on superconductivity and pressure.

While this innovation isn’t quite ready for prime time - we could see it in all urban environment in the next few decades. This is worth the view.

O-Wind Turbine captures energy even in the middle of dense cities

An omnidirectional wind turbine that works in the middle of big cities, which could "take urban energy harvesting to another level", is the UK's James Dyson Award winner for 2018.

Designed by Lancaster University students Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani, the O-Wind Turbine is made for high-density urban environments, instead of the open fields where turbines are typically placed.

This is because the architecture of tall buildings throws wind flow into chaos, making conventional turbines, which are only able to capture wind travelling in one direction, close to pointless.

In contrast, the O-Wind Turbine captures wind from all directions, and is designed to attach to balconies or the sides of buildings, where speeds are high.

The progression of renewable energies is and will continue to change energy geopolitics and will inevitably be part of our geoforming management efforts.

Solar and wind farms could change our weather

Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is an important and necessary step towards averting climate change. However, in our efforts to go green, we also need to be mindful of other consequences, both intended and unintended – and that includes how a mass deployment of renewable technology might affect its surrounding climate.

What if the Sahara desert was turned into a giant solar and wind farm, for instance? This is the topic of new research published in Science by Yan Li and colleagues. They found that all those hypothetical wind turbines and solar panels would make their immediate surroundings both warmer and rainier, and could turn parts of the Sahara green for the first time in at least 4,500 years.

The scientists behind the research looked at the maximum amount of solar and wind energy that could be generated in the Sahara desert and the transition region to its south, the Sahel. The two regions were picked as they are relatively plausible sites for such an enormous roll-out of renewable energy, being fairly near to substantial demand from Europe and the Middle East, while having limited other demands on the land. Both have substantial potential resources of wind and solar energy. Li and colleagues also suggest that The Sahel, in particular, could also benefit from economic development and more energy for desalination, providing water for cities and agriculture.

Another signal of the inevitable transformation of energy geopolitics.

Decentralized Microgridding Can Provide 90% of a Neighborhood's Energy Needs, Study Finds

"The new approach could even pave the way for 100 percent self-sufficiency in power, heat, and water."
A new report funded by the Dutch government finds that microgrid technologies could make a local “techno-economy” 90 percent self-sufficient, through the decentralised sharing of energy at the local level between multiple households.

The new approach could even pave the way for “100 percent self-sufficiency in power, heat, and water, and 50 percent self-sufficiency in food production”, according to the report’s author, energy systems engineer Florijn de Graaf.

If optimized properly, microgrids could play a pivotal role in supporting efforts to transition to renewable energy systems and meet climate targets, finds the report published by Netherlands-based energy systems company Metabolic. The report was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.

Under the Paris Agreement, the Dutch government has pledged to drop its carbon dioxide emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050.

This is a good signal of practical and conceptual progress being made for the transformation our transportation paradigm.

Self-Driving Cars Won't Need Accurate Digital Maps, MIT Experts Say

A rough map of all the world's roads can fit on a flash drive—and it's all that self-driving cars will need
“Maps for even a small city tend to be gigabytes; to scale to the whole country, you’d need incredibly high-speed connections and massive servers,” says Teddy Ort, a graduate student in robotics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. “But for our approach, a global map could fit on a flash drive.”

Reason: The system doesn’t need accurate measurements to the curb, the lane markings, and roadside features like sidewalks, trees, and buildings. Instead, it merely consults a very minimalist map, then uses its sensors to see its way to a point up ahead, a “waypoint” that the system chooses for being in the general direction of the ultimate goal. That is, the system does pretty much what a human driver would do when feeling his way forward in an unfamiliar place.

The future of healthcare will likely be radically different - with a significant emphasis on real-time monitoring to guide us toward wellness and preventative interventions. In the mid 2000s I saw a very plausible shift towards not simply having a family doctor - but having a family health service that can contact us to indicate early signs of possible illness or to suggest paths to sustaining or improving wellness. This is a good signal toward that orientation.

Soon your doctor will be able to wirelessly track your health—even through walls

MIT professor Dina Katabi is building a gadget that can sit in one spot and track everything from breathing to walking, no wearables required.
Imagine a box, similar to a Wi-Fi router, that sits in your home and tracks all kinds of physiological signals as you move from room to room: breathing, heart rate, sleep, gait, and more.

Dina Katabi, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, built this box in her lab. And in the not-so-distant future, she believes, it will be able to replace the array of expensive, bulky, uncomfortable gear we currently need to get clinical data about the body.

Speaking at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, Katabi said the box she’s been building for the last several years takes advantage of the fact that every time we move—even if it’s just a teeny, tiny bit, such as when we breathe—we change the electromagnetic field surrounding us.

It seems that the more we know - the more entangled living systems are. This is a good signal of the emerging paradigm of ecological entanglement. As we domesticate DNA this entanglement is revealed.
bacteria of the genus Methylobacterium. These microbes, found in all plants, are known as methylotrophs because they eat methane gas, which plants release as their cells grow. In return for methane, M-trophs, as NewLeaf calls them, offer plants diverse benefits. Some deliver molecules that encourage plants to grow; others make seeds germinate earlier and more consistently, or protect against problem fungi.
And while scientists are well aware that diverse microbial communities cooperate to affect plant health, most companies are working with one kind of microbe at a time. Indigo isn’t yet sure how to approach entire microbiomes, Goldman says, but “we certainly are thinking hard about it.”

How plant microbes could feed the world and save endangered species

Digging into the plant microbiome could help future farmers and conservationists
Certain microbial plant partners are well-known, and there are scores of microbial products already on the market. Gardeners, for instance, can spike their watering pails with microbes to encourage flowering and boost plant immunity. But “we know very little about how the products out there actually do work,” says Jeff Dangl, a geneticist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “None of those garden supply store products have proven useful at large scale.”

Big farms can use microbial treatments. The main one applied broadly in large-scale agriculture helps roots collect nitrogen, Dangl says, which plants use to produce chlorophyll for photosynthesis.

Farmers may soon have many more microbial helpers to choose from. Scientists studying plant microbiomes have described numerous unfamiliar plant partners in recent decades. Those researchers say they’ve only scratched the surface of possibilities. Many start-up companies are researching and releasing novel microbial treatments. “The last five years have seen an explosion in this,” says Dangl, who cofounded AgBiome, which soon plans to market a bacterial treatment that combats fungal diseases. Agricultural giants like Bayer AG, which recently bought Monsanto, are also investing hundreds of millions of dollars in potential microbial treatments for plants.

The hope is that microbes can provide the next great revolution in agriculture — a revolution that’s sorely needed. With the human population predicted to skyrocket from today’s 7.6 billion to nearly 10 billion by 2050, our need for plant-based food, fibers and animal feed is expected to double.

This is an important signal toward understanding the capacity for ecology to transform itself through evolving metabolism.
French scientists studying the North Atlantic Garbage Patch found a high concentration of microbes capable of digesting plastics for energy, and Pedrotti’s research confirms the presence of such microbes. That means garbage patch dwellers could potentially be harnessed to degrade at least some floating detritus.

In the Mediterranean, we also found that the keystone species of bacteria on the plastic specialized in degrading hydrocarbons. Plastic is a polymer, composed of a chain of monomers. What these bacteria do is use the carbon in the monomers [for energy] — this is the way that they reproduce.

In general, the functions of microbial communities [on plastic] will be nitrogen fixation, gene transfer and degrading plastic. In our results, the bacteria attached to plastic are the ones that are able to degrade hydrocarbons.

On Waste Plastics at Sea, She Finds Unique Microbial Multitudes

Maria-Luiza Pedrotti is illuminating the unseen worlds of plastic-eating bacteria that teem in massive ocean garbage patches.
In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, several hundred miles from Hawaii, is a swirling cauldron of waste plastic that’s been growing steadily since the mid-1980s. Dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it’s an ugly testament to the scale of disposable culture — but it’s also an active breeding ground for new varieties of single-celled life.

Along with colleagues on board the research schooner Tara, the oceanographer Maria-Luiza Pedrotti of France’s National Center for Scientific Research(CNRS) is stalking the mysterious inhabitants of what she calls the “plastisphere.” Her goal is to understand what kinds of microbes populate this newly evolved ecosystem and what biological tasks they perform. Beyond that, she wants to learn how they affect the broader ocean food web and — by extension — human health.

Pedrotti’s investigation of Great Pacific Garbage Patch microbes is ongoing, but her earlier study of garbage patches in the Mediterranean and elsewhere has already revealed certain distinct qualities of microbes that thrive on waste plastic. The plastic fragments that make up the patches’ confetti-like slurry, Pedrotti says, harbor large quantities of bacteria from the genus Vibrio, which includes human pathogens like cholera. Studies elsewhere have suggested other dangers brewing within the plastisphere. Earlier this year, researchers at Germany’s Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries and elsewhere reported that bacteria living on microplastics have very high rates of gene exchange, perhaps due to the generous surface area the plastics give microbes to grow on. That rapid gene exchange facilitates the spread of antibiotic resistance, which could eventually affect land-dwellers like us.

The fascinating results of our understanding of life’s creatures continues to reveal deep surprises as we expand our capacity to analyze DNA.
The Hong Kong variety was missing 4 percent of its distant cousin’s genes and had its own share of genes unique to itself. Overall, the Hong Kong placozoan genome was about as different from that of T. adhaerens as human DNA is from mouse DNA. “It was really striking,” Eitel said. “They look the same, and we look completely different from mice.”
By comparing the Placozoa variation with the average genetic differences between groups in other phyla, the German team concluded that the Hong Kong Placozoa qualified as not only a new species, but also a new genus. It might even have qualified as a new family or order in other areas of the animal tree, but to err on the conservative side, the team based their standard of genus variation on jellyfish, a genetically diverse phylum with relatively tidy divisions between levels

World’s Simplest Animal Reveals Hidden Diversity

But after spending four years painstakingly reconstructing the blob’s genome, Eitel might know more about the organism than anyone else on the planet. In particular, he has looked closely enough at its genetic code to learn what visual inspections failed to reveal. The variety of creature that biologists have long called T. adhaerens is really at least two, and perhaps as many as a dozen, anatomically identical but genetically distinct “cryptic species” of animals. The discovery sets a precedent for taxonomy, the science of naming organisms, as the first time a new animal genus has been defined not by appearance, but by pure genetics.

The modern taxonomic system, little changed since Carl Linnaeus laid it out in the 1750s, attempts to chop the sprawling tree of life into seven tidy levels that grant every species a unique label. The two-part scientific name (such as Homo sapiens) represents the tail end of a branching path through this tree, starting from the thickest limbs, the kingdoms, and ending at the finest twigs, the genus (Homo) and then the species (sapiens). The path tells you everything there is to know about the organism’s relationship to other groups of creatures, at least in theory.

We now know that some bacteria actually live on electricity, some bacteria communicate via electronic signalling (among other means), we know plants can hear, sense, taste and see. This is another signal of the richness of how living systems communicate.
The sensors also allow scientists to pick up phenomena such as bioluminescence — the production of light by an organism — and identify the animals giving off the light show.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen bioluminescence in the dark and said, 'hey, that was cool, but I have no idea what it is',” says Brennan Phillips, an oceanographer at the University of Rhode Island in Narragansett.
Roughly three-quarters of marine organisms, excluding microscopic species and those that live on the sea floor, produce light. But researchers are only beginning to learn how the creatures use this ability to communicate, to attract mates or prey, or to defend themselves, says Haddock.

The hidden lives of deep-sea creatures caught on camera

Super-sensitive devices capture bioluminescent displays and other behaviours long shrouded in darkness.
Advances in video cameras and low-light sensors are revealing animal behaviours in the deep sea that researchers have never recorded before.

The behaviours include a worm-like predator shooting off rings of blue light, and an animal anchored to the sea floor sending flashes of light dancing along its body, creating the illusion of a tiny creature swimming upwards.

Steven Haddock, a marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) in California, will showcase videos of these phenomena and more for the first time on 13 September at the Deep Sea Biology Symposium in Monterey. He is one of a handful of researchers around the world who are using extremely high-resolution cameras and ultra-sensitive sensors to capture unprecedented footage of marine organisms in the wild.

“We can see natural behaviour in a way that we’ve never been able to before,” says Haddock.

The domain of methods that living systems use to communicate continues to expand.
"We know there's this systemic signaling system, and if you wound in one place the rest of the plant triggers its defense responses," says Gilroy. "But we didn't know what was behind this system."
"We do know that if you wound a leaf, you get an electrical charge, and you get a propagation that moves across the plant," Gilroy adds. What triggered that electric charge, and how it moved throughout the plant, were unknown.
Ubiquitous in cells, calcium often acts as a signal about a changing environment. And because calcium carries a charge, it can also produce an electrical signal. But calcium is ephemeral, spiking and dipping in concentration quickly. The researchers needed a way to see the calcium in real time.

Blazes of light reveal how plants signal danger long distances

In one video, you can see a hungry caterpillar, first working around a leaf's edges, approaching the base of the leaf and, with one last bite, severing it from the rest of the plant. Within seconds, a blaze of fluorescent light washes over the other leaves, a signal that they should prepare for future attacks by the caterpillar or its kin.

That fluorescent light tracks calcium as it zips across the plant's tissues, providing an electrical and chemical signal of a threat. In more than a dozen videos like this, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Botany Simon Gilroy and his lab reveal how glutamate—an abundant neurotransmitter in animals—activates this wave of calcium when the plant is wounded. The videos provide the best look yet at the communication systems within plants that are normally hidden from view.

The research is published Sept. 14 in the journal Science. Masatsugu Toyota led the work as a postdoctoral researcher in Gilroy's lab. Gilroy and Toyota, now at Saitama University in Japan, collaborated with researchers from the Japan Science and Technology Agency, Michigan State University and the University of Missouri.

Another great signal for the looming problem of antibiotic resistance.

A new antibiotic uses sneaky tactics to kill drug-resistant superbugs

The drug will need to go through more testing before it’s used in humans
Drug-resistant bacteria have a new challenger.
A new molecule can kill deadly strains of common bacteria, such as Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumonia, that are resistant to most existing antibiotics. The drug works differently from currently available antibiotics, potentially making it harder for bacteria to develop resistance, researchers report September 12 in Nature.

In tests in cultured cells and mice, the molecule killed off a variety of common gram-negative bacteria that cause infections in humans, including E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and was also effective against gram-positive bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria, so called because of how they appear when stained for viewing under a microscope, are notoriously difficult to attack with antibiotics because of the microbes’ hard-to-penetrate cell membrane. The drug also destroyed bacterial strains that are resistant to multiple kinds of antibiotics.  

The molecule will need to go through additional testing and tweaking before it can be used in humans, Smith says. And it’s not a permanent solution to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Eventually, if molecules of this type are widely used as antibiotics, bacteria will evolve resistance, as they always do. But for now, it’s a step ahead.

Fake news everywhere - perhaps the original fake news source is advertising and marketing. The digital environment provides a new platform for pernicious marketing.


Inside the drama that’s taking the beauty influencer industry by storm.
Over the last three years, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has cracked down on Instagram influencers, forcing users to disclose sponcon and brand partnerships with a simple hashtag (#ad or #paid are preferred) or built-in branded partner ID tools. Business is booming regardless, with even teens getting a piece of that that sweet sweet sponcon cash. However as the industry matures and companies grow more dependent on the insidious form of advertising, it seems like the real money, and shenanigans, might not be in glowing reviews, but brutal takedowns.

An Instagram post by Kevin James Bennett, an Emmy Award-winning makeup artist and cosmetics developer set the beauty influencer community aflame on Tuesday. In it, Bennett describes the “mob-like behavior” of high-profile beauty influencers and the management teams he was in touch with to reviews for beauty products he was releasing under his own name. Bennett claims the influencers offered to trash a competing product in comparison to Bennett’s products in exchange for $75,000 to $85,000. Bennett also called out the all-too-common practice of skirting disclosure requirements and urged the FTC to start issuing fines:

As platform colonize the capacity for costless coordination with privateering business models - we must all pay due diligence about the ‘costs’ we pay to the conveniences we choose to embrace. The 3 min video outlines the procedure.

The Most Powerful Single Click in Your Facebook Privacy Settings

Getting a new job, recovering from an abusive relationship, engaging in new kinds of activism, moving to a different country—these are all examples of reasons one might decide to start using Facebook in a more private way. While it is relatively straightforward to change your social media use moving forward, it can be more complicated to adjust all the posts, photos, and videos you may have accumulated on your profile in the past. Individually changing the privacy settings for everything you have posted in the past can be impractical, particularly for very active users or those who have been using Facebook for a long time.

The good news is that Facebook offers a one-click privacy setting to retroactively change all your past posts to be visible to your friends only. With this tool, content on your timeline that you’ve shared to be visible to Friends of Friends or Public will change to be visible by Friends only. And the change will be “sticky”—it cannot be reversed in one click, and would be very difficult to accidentally undo.

Watch this video for a step-by-step tutorial to change this setting and make your posts more private.

And one more suggestion to help with our sense of not being interfered with.

If you haven’t already switched to Firefox, do it now

Firefox has announced plans to block all third-party trackers. Why haven’t you switched yet?
This week, Mozilla announced that its browser Firefox will start blocking all cross-site third-party trackers–the cookies hiding in the background that follow your clicks across the web, reporting your activity to advertisers as you move between websites.

Including these settings, by default, is the best way to protect users from inadvertently giving third parties data about users’ behavior. Just as people tend not to read long privacy policies, they also shouldn’t be expected to change the settings to disable third-party trackers on every single site they visit. As Mozilla’s head of product strategy Nick Nguyen writes on the Mozilla blog, “In the physical world, users wouldn’t expect hundreds of vendors to follow them from store to store, spying on the products they look at or purchase. Users have the same expectations of privacy on the web, and yet in reality, they are tracked wherever they go.” Trackers instituted by the site you’re visiting will remain in place.

Trackers don’t just track you–they also slow download times for websites. Mozilla cites a study by the ad-blocker Ghostery, which found that 55% of the time required to load a website is spent loading third-party trackers. Without these trackers, sites will load faster, making the overall user experience better. Mozilla will be testing how much blocking trackers impact load times in September–if its approach to blocking trackers does reduce load times, it will roll out the same technology to the regular Firefox browser later this year. If you’re interested in trying it out now, you can download Firefox Nightly to see how the features work.