|There are great benefits to connectedness, but we haven't wrapped our minds around the costs.|
||A Way That May Or May Not Be Honest
|| 7:08 am EDT, Mar 27, 2012
In this limitless Web, there is always someone who will agree with us, supply the arguments and evidence we need to support what we thought anyway, playing on our emotions in a way that may or may not be honest. This may not necessarily lead us closer to truth.
Magnetic hard disks will soon be able to store one terabit (a trillion bits) per square inch. The technology, called heat-assisted magnetic recording, involves heating the magnetic regions on a disk that hold individual data bits, allowing those regions to be made tinier. Seagate says the method promises to keep increasing storage density, and it could lead to 60-terabyte hard drives. The company is targeting 2015 for its first commercial product featuring the technology.
Shaving a cubic millimeter of brain tissue would yield a petabyte of data.
But better technology alone won't get Seung to his connectome. "The challenge is analyzing them," he says. Toward that end, he'll need a lot more eyeballs. The more people who can proofread his connectomes, the faster his maps will grow. As a result, he and his colleagues have set up a website where the public can pitch in.
"We're trying to gamify it," Seung says.
Mary Meeker, Scott Devitt, and Liang Wu:
Do humans want everything to be like a game?
Someone once accused Craig Venter of playing God.
His reply was, "We're not playing."
||Obscured By The Incessant Noise Of One's Life
|| 7:08 am EDT, Mar 27, 2012
Ed Rosenthal, as told to Matthew Segal:
There's an openness to the desert that is just wonderful. It lets you focus on what matters in life. There are no real estate deals going on. You are alone with yourself, and there's a spirit of the desert -- an energy you don't find elsewhere.
I felt completely alone.
I could see the canopy of the jungle spinning towards me. Then I lost consciousness and remember nothing of the impact. Later I learned that the plane had broken into pieces about two miles above the ground.
I woke the next day and looked up into the canopy. The first thought I had was: "I survived an air crash."
I shouted out for my mother in but I only heard the sounds of the jungle. I was completely alone.
There were mountains in every direction. Mountains she had climbed. Mountains that had stolen the lives of her friends and nearly claimed hers too. But never had she invested so much in a mountain as the one under her boots at last.
Danger was a constant companion. Of course there was the possibility of being attacked by Flecheiros, but even greater hazards lay in the journey itself. This was highly jagged terrain incised by innumerable creeks with vertical banks that had to be scaled or slithered down (up to twenty-five in a day's march). Never mind the snakes and jaguars; these are much overrated. The real danger was that of slipping and breaking a limb or falling and being impaled on the Punji sticks left by the machete-wielding trailblazers at the front of the line.
On a lengthy expedition of this kind, food supplies are a critical issue, not simply for energy but for morale. No one can carry fifty days' rations on top of a hammock, clothing, and other essential equipment. Daily hunting made up the shortfall. Naturally, returns were better on some days than others. There were many days when the hunters could bag only a few monkeys. A bowl of thin monkey broth simply couldn't compensate for a long day's march and left everyone in a sullen mood.
Some people need to revisit Paris. I am a compulsive returnee to Tibet and Kailash. It is my escape from western civilization and its vulgarity, Berlusconi to Gaga. The four days it takes me, going from a little less than 16,000 feet to 18,600 as I go over the pass, Droelma La, circling the mountain, very slowly, enables me to detach from the octopus grasp of my culture's adhesive attachment to time. It is a meditation trek. It is an attempt to hear whatever I believe is reality, which gets obscured by the incessant noise of one's life.
The scenery was overwhelmingly beautiful as we walked between turreted cliffs, passing white streamers of waterfalls and boulders patched with orange and green lichens. Looking at a photograph of the Horsehead Nebula, swimming in its ocean of dust and gases, I have an appropriate sense of my size in the universe. The landscape of Tibet has the same effect on me. We passed a young woman on her own, very pretty, prostrating her way along the path, a major endeavor that could certainly take her several weeks. When you do prostrations around anything sacred, you walk from where your feet are at the end of the prostration to where your head just was -- in other words, your height -- and then do the next prostration. It pays to be tall.
|| 7:36 am EDT, Mar 21, 2012
You wake alone and surrounded by miles of burning, sprawling desert, and soon discover the looming mountaintop which is your goal.
Faced with rolling sand dunes, age-old ruins, caves and howling winds, your passage will not be an easy one. The goal is to get to the mountaintop, but the experience is discovering who you are, what this place is, and what is your purpose.
Travel and explore this ancient, mysterious world alone, or with a stranger you meet along the way. Soar above ruins and glide across sands as you discover the secrets of a forgotten civilization.
Featuring stunning visuals, haunting music, and unique online gameplay, Journey delivers an experience like no other.
Travel is mostly about dreams -- dreaming of landscapes or cities, imagining yourself in them, murmuring the bewitching place names, and then finding a way to make the dream come true. The dream can also be one that involves hardship, slogging through a forest, paddling down a river, confronting suspicious people, living in a hostile place, testing your adaptability, hoping for some sort of revelation.
Listening to music while driving through a lovely landscape is one of life's great mood enhancers.
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty," -- that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
|| 7:56 am EDT, Mar 19, 2012
We do not intend to eat our ancestors, but we inevitably do.
Those that died of kuru were highly regarded as sources of food, because they had layers of fat which resembled pork. It was primarily the Fore women who took part in this ritual. Often they would feed morsels of brain to young children and elderly relatives. Among the tribe, it was, therefore, women, children and the elderly who most often became infected.
There are only two types of companies. Those that have been hacked and those that will be.
Undersecretary of Commerce Mark Foulon:
It has become clear that Internet access in itself is a vulnerability that we cannot mitigate. We have tried incremental steps and they have proven insufficient.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly described imagery from "The Shining." The gentleman seen with the weird guy in the bear suit is wearing a tuxedo, but not a top hat.
Homer: Not a bear in sight. The "Bear Patrol" is working like a charm!
Lisa: That's specious reasoning, Dad.
Homer: [uncomprehendingly] Thanks, honey.
If you can't understand it without an explanation, you can't understand it with an explanation.
||The Challenge Of Our Generation
|| 7:56 am EDT, Mar 19, 2012
Is it age, wisdom, senility? ... I'm enjoying it thoroughly, and then the moment comes when I just know I've had enough. It's not that I've stopped enjoying it. I'm not bored, I don't even think it's too long. I just have no desire to go on enjoying it.
I knew it was time to leave when I realized I could no longer look students in the eye and tell them what a great place this was to work.
At Goldman, we pride ourselves on our ability to scour the world's universities and business schools for the finest sociopaths money will buy. Once in our internship program, these youths are subjected to rigorous evaluations to root out even the slightest evidence of a soul. But, as the case of Mr. Smith shows, even the most time-tested system for detecting shreds of humanity can blow a gasket now and then. For that, we can only offer you our deepest apology and the reassurance that one good apple won't spoil the whole bunch.
Casey A. Gollan:
We see life where there is only code, code falling for other code, us falling for code. It can't be long until code really does fall for us.
High Frequency Trading now accounts for about 75 percent of all US equity transactions.
Casey A. Gollan:
Part of the reason systems are hard to see is because they're an abstraction. They don't really exist until you articulate them.
However, if you can manage to divine the secret connections and interdependencies between things, it's like putting on glasses for the first time. Your headache goes away and you can focus on how you want to change things.
Making systems work is the challenge of our generation.
||idealistic remembrances of how things were
|| 6:59 am EDT, Mar 12, 2012
William D. Nordhaus:
One might argue that there are many uncertainties here, and we should wait until the uncertainties are resolved. Yes, there are many uncertainties. That does not imply that action should be delayed.
Since it is intelligence that distinguishes our species and inventiveness that has determined our history, by what standard should an unconventional act or attitude be called unnatural? How can human nature be held to another standard of naturalness than its own? Perhaps with our intelligence comes the capacity to know about and empathize with the problems of strangers, and this makes it natural for us to do so. On grounds of their intellectual and practical limitations, bears in Canada must be forgiven their apparent indifference to the fate of bears in China. Under other conditions -- bigger brains, opposable thumbs, bipedalism -- for all we know they might be model activists.
My point is that our civilization has recently chosen to identify itself with a wildly oversimple model of human nature and behavior and then is stymied or infuriated by evidence that the models don't fit. And the true believers in these models seem often to be hardened in their belief by this evidence, perhaps in part because of the powerfully annealing effects of rage and indignation. Sophisticated as we sometimes claim to be, we have by no means evolved beyond this tendency, are deeply mired in it at this very moment, and seem at a loss to think our way out of it.
We appear to have lost the capacity to question the present, much less offer alternatives to it.
As we grind through the Republican primary process, it seems like the debate over morality in America has less to do with moral outcomes and more to do with a vision of how society should look based on idealistic remembrances of how things were.
||they have rearranged the world to put themselves in front of you
|| 6:59 am EDT, Mar 12, 2012
There is a vital distinction between limiting the use of online data for ad targeting, and banning data collection outright.
Google invested nearly a billion dollars in its Internet infrastructure in the last quarter of 2011.
Noam Cohen's friend:
Privacy is serious. It is serious the moment the data gets collected, not the moment it is released.
The cost of Facebook Ads varies considerably according to the demographic you are targeting -- it could be as little as a couple of Euro cents a click, as much as 5 Euro a click.
They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.
You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don't owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don't even start asking for theirs.
We go up on Google, we go up on Facebook, see who's doing what to whom. We go up on Google and find out the answers to things. And what that's telling us is that knowledge and new ideas are cheap. And it's playing into a set of predispositions that we have been selected to have anyway, to be copiers and to be followers. But at no time in history has it been easier to do that than now. And Facebook is encouraging that.
And then, as corporations grow ... and we can see corporations as sort of microcosms of societies ... as corporations grow and acquire the ability to acquire other corporations, a similar thing is happening, is that, rather than corporations wanting to spend the time and the energy to create new ideas, they want to simply acquire other companies, so that they can have their new ideas. And that just tells us again how precious these ideas are, and the lengths to which people will go to acquire those ideas.
||Ron was wrong, Whit is right
|| 7:26 pm EST, Feb 14, 2012
Steve Bellovin et al:
Architecture matters a lot, and in subtle ways.
The future will be a golden age for intelligence.
Arjen K. Lenstra and James P. Hughes:
We performed a sanity check of public keys collected on the web. Our main goal was to test the validity of the assumption that different random choices are made each time keys are generated. We found that the vast majority of public keys work as intended. A more disconcerting finding is that two out of every one thousand RSA moduli that we collected offer no security. Our conclusion is that the validity of the assumption is questionable and that generating keys in the real world for "multiple-secrets" cryptosystems such as RSA is significantly riskier than for "single-secret" ones such as ElGamal or (EC)DSA which are based on Diffie-Hellman.
Jean-Francois Raymond and Anton Stiglic:
Diffie-Hellman key agreement protocol implementations have been plagued by serious security flaws. The attacks can be very subtle and, more often than not, have not been taken into account by protocol designers.
Charles C. Mann:
Minute changes in baseline assumptions produce wildly different results.
If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place.
Ron was wrong, Whit is right
|| 6:50 am EST, Feb 14, 2012
The central paradox of the machines that have made our lives so much brighter, quicker, longer and healthier is that they cannot teach us how to make the best use of them; the information revolution came without an instruction manual.
The tendency of mass democracy to produce mediocre politicians is what worries me. The vast majority of human beings today are simply not competent to protect their own interests.
Our serious problem today is not simply that many people routinely tell lies. As I have noted, people have departed from the truth for one reason or another all throughout human history. The problem now is that we seem to be reaching a dysfunctional tipping point in which an essential commitment to truthfulness no longer seems to be assumed in our society. If this is indeed the case, the danger is that the bonds of trust important in any society, and essential for a free and democratic one, will dissolve so that the kinds of discourse required to self-govern will become impossible.
In 1972, altogether 22,887 tax returns were filed with today's equivalent of $1 million in income. By 1985, the number had expanded to 58,603. And in 2009, the most recent year for figures, this bracket had multiplied to 236,893.
While real earnings for the overall workforce have risen only 7 percent since 1985, professions like physicians and professors have done several times better. Incomes of lawyers and executives, for their part, have soared much further than anyone would have forecast a few decades ago.
Today, immaterial labor is hegemonic in the sense in which Marx proclaimed that, in 19th-century capitalism, large industrial production was hegemonic: it imposes itself not through force of numbers but by playing the key, emblematic structural role. What emerges is a vast new domain called the 'common': shared knowledge and new forms of communication and co-operation. The products of immaterial production aren't objects but new social or interpersonal relations; immaterial production is bio-political, the production of social life.
The proletarianisation of the lower salaried bourgeoisie is matched at the opposite extreme by the irrationally high remuneration of top managers and bankers (irrational since, as investigations have demonstrated in the US, it tends to be inversely proportional to a company's success). Rather than submit these trends to moral... [ Read More (0.2k in body) ]
|| 7:17 am EST, Feb 13, 2012
On Peaking Lights, from the Rhapsody review of their album, 936:
In a parallel universe, one where dub icon Lee "Scratch" Perry, and not ABBA, dominated the pop charts in the late '70s, Peaking Lights are the Mr. and Mrs. Lady Gaga of the modern age. If you're not cranking 936 right this second, then that sounds like nothing but crazy talk. So go ahead and explore this wondrous platter; it's gooey mutant disco at its most luxuriant and spellbinding. Even when the Wisconsin-based duo ventures far out, as on "Marshmellow Yellow," your body will still demand a glistening parquet floor and softly strobing light patterns. Oh, and crank the bass, too.
Try Birds of Paradise Dub Version and Tiger Eyes (Laid Back).
On Hanggai, from the Rhapsody review of their album, He Who Travels Far:
Like an Appalachian opium den or a rollicking Irish bar in the middle of Mongolia, Travels pulses with intense, incongruous and, yes, intoxicating energy. On album two, the Beijing-Mongolian folk-punk outfit expands their experiment to folk-rock realms around the world, yet still manage to make all their far-flung influences sound like drinking buddies. Ominous electric guitars throw down with galloping acoustic strings, mournful dirges like "Hairan Hairan" alternate with Central Asian hoedowns like "Zhang Dan," and everywhere you'll find the rockingest throat singing this side of Yat-Kha.
Try "Yuan Ding Cap" and "Drinking Song".