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Current Topic: Society

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

RE: CNET | Cyborgs unite!
Topic: Society 6:42 am EDT, Aug 28, 2003

Rattle wrote:
] ] CNET caught up to Mann at his home lab in
] ] Toronto, where he was planning a pair of "DECONism"
] ] events, featuring music controlled in part by brain
] ] waves. An electrode attached at the base of a
] ] participant's skull reads electrical impulses, which a PC
] ] can use to alter audio characteristics such as volume or
] ] tempo.
] Declan McCullagh catches up with Steve Mann.

Includes a discussion of Steve's difficulties of passing through airport security.

RE: CNET | Cyborgs unite!

RE: Shaping the Next One Hundred Years | RAND
Topic: Society 6:18 am EDT, Aug 18, 2003

Jeremy wrote:
] The checkered history of predicting the future has
] dissuaded policymakers from considering the long-term effects
] of decisions. New analytic methods, enabled by modern
] computers, transform our ability to reason about the future.
] The authors here demonstrate a quantitative approach to
] long-term policy analysis (LTPA).
] Robust methods enable decisionmakers to examine a vast range
] of futures and design adaptive strategies to be robust across
] them. Using sustainable development as an example, the authors
] discuss how these methods apply to LTPA and a wide range of
] decisionmaking under conditions of deep uncertainty.

The authors include the equations and parmeters for the model used in the study as an appendix, it would be pretty easy to replicate their results.

RE: Shaping the Next One Hundred Years | RAND

Cringely's crazy idea
Topic: Society 6:45 am EDT, Jul 25, 2003

] When I mentioned in last week's column that I would this
] week be writing about a legal way to do a successful
] music downloading business -- a business that would
] threaten the Recording Industry Association of America
] and its hegemony -- dozens of readers wrote to me trying
] to predict what I would write. Some readers came at the
] problem from a purely technical perspective, ignoring the
] fact that the real issues here aren't technical but
] legal. Some readers took a legal approach, but they
] tended to ignore the business model. Some were looking
] solely for the business model. Interestingly, nobody
] even came close to my idea, which makes me either a total
] loon or a diabolical genius. Truth be told, I'm probably
] more of a diabolical loon.
] The reason I am even writing this column is two-fold.
] The biggest reason is simply because I would like people
] to consider lateral solutions to problems. I am pushing
] the concept of problem solving in a new way. There is no
] particular methodology here, just the underlying concept
] that if things aren't working the way you like, think of
] something different. Too often, people restrict their
] thinking or they somehow expect the world to change just
] for them, which it won't. But taking a lateral approach
] often yields interesting results. And once you've found
] an approach, maybe it can be applied to a different
] problem. What I am abo

Cringely's crazy idea

Bruce Schneier: 'How to Fight'
Topic: Society 6:45 am EDT, Jul 25, 2003

] I landed in Los Angeles at 11:30 PM, and it took me
] another hour to get to my hotel. The city was booked, and
] I was lucky to get a reservation where I did. When I
] checked in, the clerk insisted on making a photocopy of
] my driver's license. I tried fighting, but it was no use.
] I needed the hotel room. There was nowhere else I could
] go. The night clerk didn't really care if he rented the
] room to me or not. He had rules to follow, and he was
] going to follow them.

] The only way to change security is to step outside the system
] and negotiate with the people in charge. It's only outside the
] system that each of us has power: sometimes as an asset owner,
] but more often as another player. And it is outside the system
] that we will do our best negotiating.

Excellent essay by Schneier in this month's "Crypto-Gram" newsletter, about how to fight the system.

Bruce Schneier: 'How to Fight'

Wired 11.04: The Secret War Machine (Bruce Sterling)
Topic: Society 8:14 am EDT, Jul 18, 2003

] But the real success story is the Contras, or rather
] their modern successor: al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden's crew
] is a band of government-funded anticommunist
] counterrevolutionaries who grew up and cut the apron
] strings. These new-model Contras don't need state support
] from Washington, Moscow, or any Accessory of Evil. Like
] Project Democracy, they've got independent financing: oil
] money, charity money, arms money, and a collection plate
] wherever a junkie shoots up in an alley. Instead of
] merely ignoring and subverting governments for a higher
] cause, as Poindexter did, al Qaeda tries to destroy them
] outright. Suicide bombers blew the Chechnyan provisional
] puppet government sky high. Cars packed with explosives
] nearly leveled the Indian Parliament. We all know what
] happened to the Pentagon.
] The next Iran-Contra is waiting, because the
] contradictions that created the first have never been
] resolved. Iran-Contra wasn't about eager American
] intelligence networks spreading dirty money in distant
] lands; it was about the gap between old, legitimate,
] land-based governments ruled by voters and the new,
] stateless, globalized predation. The next scandal will
] erupt when someone as molten, self-righteous, and
] frustrated as John Poindexter uses stateless power for
] domestic advantage. That's the breaking point in American
] politics: not when you call in the plumbers, but when you
] turn them loose on the opposition party. Then the Empire
] roils in a lather of sudden, indignant fury and strikes
] back against its own.

Wired 11.04: The Secret War Machine (Bruce Sterling)

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