“We’ve gone from a lunar world, where we measured everything in terms of days, weeks and months, to a transactional world, where every single transaction has to be part of your decision-making process.” — Colin Powell, December 14 2008
Each information transaction, sometimes as exemplary, sometimes as single element added to a sweeping aggregate of historical sway, is a precedent, which can motivate, influence or redirect the push of future happenstance. And, we must take note, every transaction involving matter or energy contains information, traces of a history of its coming into being, and generates a “footprint”, a trace of its appearance and its transition into something beyond the transactional moment.
The information age gives us a vast wealth of knowledge, or of a kind of knowledge, what we take to be knowledge, about the world, hints which are also indicators, though not predictors, indicators because they play a role in expressing current interest, embedded in human activity, and so in framing future expressions of human interest.
Continue reading “Toward a ‘Transactional’ Cosmology: Web Dynamics for the Information Age”
TheHotSpring.com :: Is the very thing we demand of our computers the thing that will make them intolerant of our humanity, if and when they awaken to an artificial intelligence? One of the fundamental problems in achieving a state of computational agility and independence that would allow us to say a synthetic entity has acquired ‘artificial intelligence’ is the problem of autonomy. If we give real autonomy to artificially intelligent machines, can we trust them to cooperate with us, in the ways we, as human beings prefer?
This is an ethical question as well as a practical one. There are real ethical risks inherent in creating devices, or even independently mobile entities, that use their own store of learned intelligence and independent decision-making to interact with or make decisions that affect the conditions of human life. Consigning human well-being or liberties to a system that privileges artificial intelligence for the sake of expediency of one kind or another might reduce the range of free choice available to human individuals.
Continue reading “Artificial Intelligence: Will It Understand or Reject Our Human Qualities?”
Electronic medical records (EMR), like health insurance, benefit from being spread over the widest pool possible. A system that aggregates and cross-references data from hundreds of millions of patients can find statistical evidence far more efficiently than today’s statistical modeling for health problems and solution improvement.
Allowing for non-identified EMR sharing across the system creates a universal pool of data in which drug side-effects, treatment failure or success rates, disease history, specific organ damage or healing, and all sorts of incidence of drug interactions and health specifics can be cross-referenced, spurring a massive amount of data-rooted research and improving quality of care and treatment success rates.
Continue reading “Electronic Medical Records Could Help Find Cures, Speed Progress, Cut Costs”
The converging crises of carbon-induced climate destabilization and unsustainable transport-related costs and land-use are pushing global society toward a moment of major change, in which “fuel” as we know it will be less a matter of resourced-fuel combustion and more a matter of renewable clean electric power storage and delivery. The petroleum industry needs to adjust its business model to operate in a world where burning its prime resource is not the goal.
Until now, and even in the midst of the current ongoing energy debate, we are accustomed to viewing the onset of renewable energy sources and the interests of petroleum companies as diametrically opposed and politically incompatible. That idea is now easily seen as what it is: an ideological assumption based on a world-view informed by too few facts and too little understanding of complex interrelationships among resources, natural systems, and economic activity.
Continue reading “Big Oil Needs to Adjust to Non-fuel Long-term Business Model”
The Amazon Kindle is a nice device, and it handles its job well, but it is just a very clumsy start to what will be a technological convergence few in mainstream media (and publishing) are anticipating, though it may not be far off. The page-perfect, for lack of a better term, e-reading device will make portable electronic reading easier and more comfortable than ever, packing huge amounts of data, as well as wireless downloading and even browsing capability, into an ultrathin tablet touchscreen.
The device may, after one or two initial iterations, come to have the computing power of today’s less expensive laptop computers, and will capitalize on the great discoveries in user-interface technology that have emerged from the introduction of the iPhone into the mainstream consumer market.
Whether it will belong to Apple, or be the next generation of the Amazon Kindle, or whether an as-yet-unknown pioneer in consumer electronics will pull it off, e-paper technology is certainly advanced enough to make it possible, and it’s just a matter of time until someone figures out the best way to market such a product, building on the success of the Kindle, the iPhone, the inexpensive streamlined netbook, and ever more available flat-rate unlimited mobile web services.
Continue reading “Page-perfect Touchscreen e-Reader will Revolutionize Mobile Computing”
All systems fail, all organized interactions are vulnerable to entropy, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. And at best, we are but stardust, a beautiful yet haunting explanation of our origins. Infused with light. Doomed to shadow. Whatever your spiritual beliefs, in the mortal physical realm, entropy is always interfering. The intellect often uses convenient conceptualizations to feel it is better understood or more secure, more real and lasting, than it is.
Remember: the only constant is change, so to oversimplify is to willfully strip ourselves of needed understanding, the power of intellect that can do the best work against entropy. To paint in broad strokes an entire universe of experience to exist only in dualities of black and white, up and down, matter and void, is to confuse simplicity with clarity, at our peril. While the best explanation is usually the simplest one, the truth is almost always more complex than we can perceive.
So, we are left to navigate a universe of traumas and disappointments we cannot just dismiss as signs of the wrong thing happening or the other side gaining temporary control over our otherwise pure and decent environs. Darkness and light are lies in that they are not so diametrically opposed as they pretend; there are better options for understanding what they mean. As R. Buckminster Fuller has written: “We have relationships, not space”.
Continue reading “Resilient Complexity versus Exposure to Entropy”
It may be that “a few bad apples” got the ball rolling on what has turned into a massive international financial disaster. Or, it may be that a few bad apples got their names in lights, while the entire system conspired unwittingly in a spectacular collapse. Either way, the best expression of the problem might be to say that markets have stopped working, in part, because they have been comprehensively modified to stop working like markets.
With capital vanishing, nearly $7 trillion in stock losses in just a few months, and banks refusing to lend even the tens of billions they were given precisely to lubricate the lending process, we are facing a crisis of confidence and an inability to conceptualize shared interest. The idea that self-interest motivates markets somehow developed, irresponsibly, into the idea that self-interest is more important than the functionality of market dynamics.
Continue reading “Transparency Network as Means of Restoring Financial Confidence”
As the “perfect storm” gathers from inchoate, deceptively non-threatening winds, we can look ahead, backward and into the mirror and ask how crisis comes, or why, if it is inevitable, if we might just fall right out of it, as we fell into it. But the answer is simple: human crisis comes from excess, from … Continue reading The Age of Hyper-exploitation & its Aftermath
We are living in a time of unprecedented global integration, where economies, security interests, legal systems, and languages and systems of learning have been dispersed and interwoven across the globe. There are obvious positive effects to this integration, along with certain overarching and seemingly intractable problems that cause real worry for even the most hopeful or studied observers.
Languages and cultures intermingle, yet seek to remain distinct and continuous, and individuals seek to enhance their own possibilities (requiring freedom of information, and freedom of movement), while seeking to prevent the corrosion of already structured social fabrics. The obvious problem is that some of our most vital human interests come into conflict more readily with those of others, when massive numbers of people mix and intermingle, individuals and cultures competing with one another for the spoils of a new global system.
Continue reading “Ziggurat Century: Global Civilization as the New Babel, with Reason for Hope”
2008 will be a year in which the integrity of election processes, the quality and resilience of cultivated soils, the availability of credit to consumers, the affordability of homes and rentals, and access to affordable vital staples like food and water, as well as the cost of transportation, will affect economies the world over. Some economic analysts have said the combination of these factors, resulting instability or environmental degradation, and migration of affected populations, could mean the world is facing an unprecedented level of economic precariousness.
2007 saw prices of commodities, ranging from grains, to metals to petroleum, skyrocket, with mining giants like Río Tinto tripling their stock value, and the price of bread in Mediterranean countries like Spain, jumping 40%. The Earth Policy Institute reports that world grain stocks are at an all-time record low, with only about 54 days of consumption available in case of crop failure or demand-driven scarcity. Drinkable water is also frighteningly scarce, with overpumping of fossil aquifers already beyond sustainable and on the rise.
Continue reading “Elections, Credit, Fuel Costs, Soil Quality, Water Policy & Access to Food Crucial in 2008”