Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ultimate cloud computing

Wired writes about a new supercomputing intelligence device in the skies above Afghanistan:

It’ll be floating 20,000 feet above the warzone, aboard a giant spy blimp that watches and listens to everything for miles around.

The idea behind the Blue Devil is to have up to a dozen different sensors, all flying on the same airship and talking to each other constantly. The supercomputer will crunch the data, and automatically slew the sensors in the right direction: pointing a camera at, say, the guy yapping about an upcoming ambush.

The goal is to get that coordinated information down to ground troops in less than 15 seconds.


Besides military and law enforcement applications, can we use this technology for improving wireless data communications for mobile devices, e.g. during large public events? Probably, yes. Unlike drones, a blimp in the sky would work better as a local network hub than a communications satellite, just hang a bunch of antennas and solar panels on it. Even better, make the whole thing out of a solar power-generating fabric.

tags: cloud, computers, communications, military, privacy, video, mobile, dynamic, system, control, drones, energy

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

e-mail should die

In the age of social networking, e-mail has become a giant security hole. PC World reports:

George Bronk, 23, was arrested in late October after police found evidence that he'd hacked into more than 3,200 e-mail accounts. He used the same technique that Sarah Palin hacker David Kernell used to break into the former U.S. vice presidential candidate's Yahoo account: He scoured his victims' Facebook accounts for answers to the security questions used by Web-based e-mail services such as Gmail and Yahoo Mail.

Forget about pranksters and perverts. Now, that banks, brokerages, and other financial institutions switch from paper to electronic statements, hacking somebody's e-mail account is going to become an even more profitable enterprise.

tags: privacy, security, information, finance, control, payload, packaging, 10x

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Connecting dots - 2

tags: creativity, education, apple

Monday, January 17, 2011

Wikipedia 3.0.

Turing (1950) argued that we would certainly regard a machine as intelligent if it could pass the following test: An experimenter sits in a room with two teletypes by which she conducts a “conversation” with two systems. One is a human, the other is a machine, but the experimenter is not told which is which. If, after asking many questions, she is likely to have much doubt about which is human and which is machine, we should, says Turing, concede intelligence to the machine. The Handbook of Brain Theory and Neural Networks. 2nd ed. MIT Press. p13.

Given a recent demonstration of IBM's Watson on Jeopardy, the only thing that's missing from machine intelligence is speech synthesis. It's sounds especially funny when the machine selects a question from the "Chicks dig me" category :)

tags:information, control, intelligence, tool, science, computers

Connecting dots ... with language

From a random neuroscience blog:

There is a study that was done with rats in a rectangular room with four white walls. They put some cheese in the corner and turned the mouse around a few times and dropping him into the white room. 50% of the time, the rat would go the wrong direction because he had no reference point to find which corner the cheese was in. So, they painted one of the walls blue, so now you would probably hypothesize that the rat would be dropped in the room and think “cheese is left of the blue wall.” Guess what. 50% of the time, the rat went the wrong direction! Researchers concluded that the rat was not able to link those two concepts - ‘left’ and ‘blue wall.’ He knew ‘left’ and knew ‘blue’ but could connect those two pieces of information.

Guess who else cannot connect that information— humans ages 1 - 6 years old. Liz Spelki puts it like this— a child’s brain begins as a bunch of islands. On one side of the brain you have an island “blue” and another on the other side of the brain the island “left” and somewhere in between these there exist ideas like “wall.” At around age 6, children are able to put together phrases in spatial language and think “left of the blue wall” which in turn connects those islands in the brain so the children can understand what “left of the blue wall!” means.

Connectivity in the brain is provided by white rather than gray matter; the white matter is the first to go when people develop Alzheimer's.

tags: brain, mind, invention, science, biology, creativity

Thursday, January 06, 2011

"And in her eyes you see nothing"

A study in Science magazine (via Bloomberg) shows that women's tears contain a chemical component that reduces sexual arousal in men.

We found that merely sniffing negative-emotion–related odorless tears obtained from women donors, induced reductions in sexual appeal attributed by men to pictures of women’s faces. Moreover, after sniffing such tears, men experienced reduced self-rated sexual arousal, reduced physiological measures of arousal, and reduced levels of testosterone. Finally, functional magnetic resonance imaging revealed that sniffing women's tears selectively reduced activity in brain-substrates of sexual arousal in men.

The picture shows how men in the study were made to smell tears during experiments. You can see that under the circumstances it is impossible not to smell them, and I doubt that in today's life we can catch the smell from a socially acceptable distance between a man and a woman. All this makes me believe that tears started as a chemical signal but later evolved into a social (visual) signal.
In any case, the study offers an insight into brain's ability to morph a physical phenomena into a social one.

tags: detection, science, social, networking, signal, information, philosophy, biology

DOI: 10.1126/science.1198331

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

3D content and equipment for you

CNet reports on Nvidia's 3D website:

A quick glance at the site reveals some imagery that one might expect to appeal to the stereotypical gaming nerd who pays for premium graphics technology--photos of scantily clad women and stills from various video games. There also are plenty of landscape and other subjects with potentially broader appeal.

Also of interest:

Samsung and 3D specialist RealD announced a plan today to jointly develop a technology called RDZ that they say will mean brighter 3D TVs that work with 3D glasses used in RealD-equipped movie theaters.

Darn! I just threw away a pair of 3D glasses I got at the theater.

tags: content, information, entertainment, video, movie, source, tool, games

Monday, January 03, 2011

The future (one of many) of social networking

TechCrunch: Mark Suster of GRP Partners makes predictions about the future of “Social Networking." Gossip management is just one of them:

If you don’t manage what is said about you in social networks it could be detrimental.  Products such as Sprout Social and CoTweet are emerging to help businesses better track and communicate with their customers and leads.  Products like awe.sm (I’m an investor) will help you manage the efficacy of your social media marketing campaigns.


Sunday, January 02, 2011

From China with patents.

NYT reports on China's ambitions in technological creativity:

In 2009, about 300,000 applications for utility patents were filed in China, roughly equal to its total of invention patents, which have been growing slightly faster than utility filings in recent years. But even if just half of China’s total filings in 2015 are for invention patents, the national plan calls for a huge leap, to one million, by 2015. By contrast, patent filings in the United States totaled slightly more than 480,000 in the 12 months ended in September, according to the patent office.

China’s patent surge has been evident for years. In October, Thomson Reuters issued a research report, forecasting that China would surpass the United States in patent filings in 2011. “It’s happening even faster than we expected,” said Bob Stembridge, an intellectual-property analyst at Thomson Reuters.

Here's a link to an English translation of the original Chinese Government's IP development strategy document.

It looks like they are going for quantity, which is not necessarily a bad idea during a period of rapid growth.

tags: patent, china, strategy, innovation, invention, growth

Making ideas accessible to brain

At TED, Tom Wujec of AutoDesk shows how to communicate ideas visually, relying on human brain's ability to pick out objects and make sense out of them.

So making images meaningful has three components. The first again, is making ideas clear by visualizing them. Secondly, making them interactive. And then thirdly, making them persistent.

Whiteboards are not interactive, they don't fit Tom's second requirement.
Today's touch screens are highly interactive, but they do not provide for persistent visualization.
Large, wall-to-wall, touch-screen graphics displays in combination with the right software will create an environment where idea communication and problem-solving is incredibly productive.

tags: interaction, tool, storage, problem, trade-off, video, creativity, information, psychology, brain