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Indeed the stars in the sky and their constellations no longer shine

Keeping Watch for Interstellar Computer Viruses
Topic: Science 2:50 pm EST, Nov 12, 2003

Microsoft may have to fork up big bounty bucks trying to unearth future hackers, particularly when they are light years away on distant worlds.

Add one more worry to the computerized world of the 21st century. Could a signal from the stars broadcast by an alien intelligence also carry harmful information, in the spirit of a computer virus? Could star folk launch a "disinformation" campaign -- one that covers up aspects of their culture? Perhaps they might even mask the "real" intent of dispatching a message to other civilizations scattered throughout the Cosmos.

These are concerns that deserve attention explains Richard Carrigan, Jr., a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. Those engaged in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), he contends, should think about decontaminating potential SETI signals.

Keeping Watch for Interstellar Computer Viruses

Survey: Databases Push Toward New Heights
Topic: Knowledge Management 4:35 pm EST, Nov 10, 2003

] For its Top Ten Program, Winter Corp. gathers voluntary
] submissions from companies worldwide that are running
] large databases. The program requires that the databases
] must be in production and contain at least 1 terabyte of
] data (or 500 megabytes of data if running on Windows).
] The results, divided into 24 categories, are based on the
] amount of online data running on the database.
] The largest decision-support database in this year's
] survey is from France Telecom and handles 29.2 terabytes
] of data, triple the size of the top database in that
] category in Winter's last survey in 2001.

This is an interesting analog to the list of top supercomputers. Although supercomputers are typically used for number crunching and data-mining rather than decision support, it is interesting to speculate what the marriage between a very large database and a supercomputer oriented toward decision support would look like and what it would cost.

Survey: Databases Push Toward New Heights

Guardian Unlimited | Online | I link, therefore I am
Topic: Human Computer Interaction 4:25 pm EST, Nov 10, 2003

William Mitchell, the head of the MIT Media Lab media arts and sciences, has written a book, "Me++"

] Me++ describes the move from virtual reality - the old
] 90s idea of the net as a separate, alternative realm - to
] "augmented reality" (AR), in which ubiquitous computing
] and mobile wireless networks are used to reconnect us to
] the real world.
] Mitchell muses on how AR will change our sense of our
] selves. Me++ is "a play on C++, the popular programming
] language. Among programmers,++ means incremented or
] extended, so Me++ suggests the computationally extended
] self." He suggests we should no longer think of ourselves
] as "fixed, discrete individuals", but as nodes in a
] network. "I am part of the networks and the networks are
] part of me. I am visible to Google. I link, therefore I
] am."

"I link, therfore I am," has resonance for MemeStreams.

Guardian Unlimited | Online | I link, therefore I am

University To Offer Supercomputer In A Box
Topic: Computers 10:35 am EST, Nov  8, 2003

The significance here is the steep drop in computing resources available for solving large problems. How many problems become economically tractable if there were a bunch of computers like this available to industry and academia?

University To Offer Supercomputer In A Box

Topic: Society 8:37 am EST, Oct 31, 2003

] Welcome to the FAIRMODEL site
] This site brings the power of large scale
] macroeconometric analysis to anyone with access to the
] internet. It is a resource for business forecasters,
] government policy analysts, macroeconomic researchers,
] teachers, and students. At this site, which is completely
] free, you can:
] 5. Analyze a presidential vote equation, including
] examining Bush's chances in 2004.

There was a segment about the presidential vote equation on NPR. The main objection is that the model does not factor in unemployment. Employment is usually correlated with economic growth (which is a factor in the model), and the current jobless recovery may be sufficiently abnormal as to invalidate the model.


RE: The Digital Imprimatur
Topic: Society 8:34 am EST, Oct 30, 2003

bucy wrote:
] Decius wrote:
] ] ] Global Internet,
] ] ] Once a spring of liberty,
] ] ] Autumn chill so near.
] ]
] ] This is the founder of Autodesk on how the potential for
] ] freedom represented by the internet could be rolled back
] over
] ] the next few years.
] While I agree that in principle this is possible, I'm
] not terribly worried by it. I think it would be
] extrordinarily expensive to deploy and maintain... I may have
] some more to say about this later.

Some elements of this future are inevitable. That future will be profoundly shaped by market forces. The secure internet will increase the "barriers to entry" for anyone who desires a first-class presence on the secure internet, precisely because so few people will desire it. But, if there is a large enough counterculture who demand it, there should be a niche for first-class access. While free access won't be "free" it should certainly be affordable for the geeks and activists who really want it.

The end of anonymity need not lead to oppression. The US is (more or less) a society where a citizen can state her views openly. Most government agencies and semi-public organizations (like hospitals) are scrupulous about preserving the privacy of personnal information. That is not the case in many parts of the world, and the secure internet could be a tool for preventing dissent. Its not obvious what can be done about that.

A large enough constituancy needs to demand that a provision be made for free access to the secure internet. That should be possible in the US where a passion for freedom runs deep. Maybe that can be a base for fighting oppression elsewhere.

RE: The Digital Imprimatur

Courageous Arab Thinkers
Topic: Society 8:54 am EDT, Oct 22, 2003

As Lawrence Summers, Harvard's president, likes to say, "One good example is worth a thousand theories."

Iraq -- maybe -- could be that example.

A group of courageous Arab social scientists decided to begin fighting the war of ideas for the Arab future ... Tomorrow, they will unveil the Arab Human Development Report 2003, which focuses on the need to rebuild Arab "knowledge societies." I sense it will be a bombshell.

Arab region: 18 computers per 1,000 people. 371 R&D scientists and engineers per million citizens.
Worldwide: 78.3 computers per 1,000 people. 979 R&D scientists and engineers per million citizens.

... Tons of foreign technology is imported, but it's never really internalized ...

Tom Friedman on Arab society in the Sunday New York Times.

Courageous Arab Thinkers

Wired News: Mac Supercomputer: Fast, Cheap
Topic: Computers 8:04 am EDT, Oct 16, 2003

] The brand new "Big Mac" supercomputer at Virginia Tech
] could be the second most powerful supercomputer on the
] planet, according to preliminary numbers.
] Early benchmarks of Virginia Tech's brand new
] supercomputer -- which is strung together from 1,100
] dual-processor Power Mac G5s -- may vault the machine
] into second place in the rankings of the worlds' fastest
] supercomputers, second only to Japan's monstrously big
] and expensive Earth Simulator.

It was relatively inexpensive, too. $5.2 million. Theoretical peak performance is 17.6 teraflops. The developers are hoping to achieve 80% of that performance.

Update on TechWeb at

The significance here is the steep drop in computing resources available for solving large problems. How many problems become economically tractable if there were a bunch of computers like this available to industry and academia?

Wired News: Mac Supercomputer: Fast, Cheap

Monkeys Control Robotic Arm With Brain Implants (
Topic: Technology 9:09 am EDT, Oct 13, 2003

] Scientists in North Carolina have built a brain implant
] that lets monkeys control a robotic arm with their
] thoughts, marking the first time that mental intentions
] have been harnessed to move a mechanical object.

Obvious applications to cyborgs and cyberspace.

Monkeys Control Robotic Arm With Brain Implants (

RE: Cyborg enhancements soon...
Topic: Technology 8:57 am EDT, Oct 13, 2003

Decius wrote:
] ] Washington - Dr Miguel Nicolelis knew he had nailed it
] ] when the monkey stopped using her arm to play the
] ] computer game.
] ]
] ] "Her arm muscles went completely quiet, she kept the arm
] ] at her side and she controlled the robot arm using only
] ] her brain and visual feedback."
] Would you have your real arm removed if in its place you could
] get one that can lift a ton?

Don't have to -- the monkey's arm is still fully functional.

Would you plug in directly to the computer if you could enter your text in from your mind istead of typing?

RE: Cyborg enhancements soon...

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