Links for 19th August 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. AN END TO MOVEMENTS – Douglas Rushkoff

    "That’s right. Mass organization may just have been a twentieth century thing: collective actions of all sorts—good and bad—were responses to the corporatization of government and industy. As such, they took the form of the entities with whom they sought to do battle. But—like the top-heavy, highly abstracted creatures they were created to counter —they are proving utterly incapable of providing an alternative to what they would replace."

    Tagged with: politicsmediaactivismmovementsastroturforganizationrushkoffculture

  2. HP Rethinks Energy

    "But ultimately, the goal is making the world lighter, also called "dematerialization." Information technology can help replace energy-intensive and carbon-heavy methods–with basic materials, business processes or entire business models. Think of how the digital transformation has completely redefined the production and distribution of music.

    Extend that model more broadly: By 2012, all of the servers in the world will use as much power as was used by all of Mexico in 2007. Breakthroughs in photonics allow us to use light instead of copper wire to transmit data. Not only can we reduce the use of natural resources, we can dramatically reduce energy consumption… "

    Tagged with: dematerialisationdatacentrepowerenergyconservationrenewablestrategy

  3. The power of TK

    "For example, you’re writing along and hit a note that isn’t important to the plot or anything that is a detail that does need to be added in. Instead of stopping to figure it out, or research it, you write something like “He jumped into the [TK make/model of car] and slammed the door shut.” The ‘TK’ is a somewhat statistically improbable letter combination, so you can, in draft, just do a find for TK and work your way through in a later draft fixing little things." Sweet hack, like it.

    Tagged with: writingresearchplaceholderTKhacktip

  4. Anthropomimetic Robot Copies Inner Structures of Human Body

    "The result is fascinating, if a bit creepy. The robot looks eerily organic, with parts that look like bone and muscle. The researchers say that humanoids built with metal parts and electric motors and actuators have limitations in the kinds of interactions they can have with humans and the environment. Indeed, they say, these limitations may affect their ability to perceive and "internalize" the world around them."

    Tagged with: robotanthropomimeticbody-mapinternalisationbiomimicry

  5. Science Fiction’s Robotics Laws Need Reality Check

    "Their first law says that humans may not deploy robots without a work system that meets the highest legal and professional standards of safety and ethics. A second revised law requires robots to respond to humans as appropriate for their roles, and assumes that robots are designed to respond to certain orders from a limited number of humans.

    The third revised law proposes that robots have enough autonomy to protect their own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the first two laws and allows for smooth transfer of control between human and robot. That means a Mars rover should automatically know not to drive off a cliff, unless human operators specifically tell it to do so."

    Tagged with: robotethicslawsAsimovphilosophyliabilityautonomy

  6. How to outrun Usain Bolt: Superhuman technology

    "How about electrodes painstakingly inserted into an appropriate group of muscles? Connected to a lightweight battery and system that reacts to the sound of the pistol, the device would instantly fire hundreds of volts into the athletes' muscles, launching them from the blocks like a careless electrician. Or elaborate fairings attached to the front of an athlete, enabling them to cut through the air like a bullet train?"

    Tagged with: athleticstechnologytranshumanismprostheticssportcompetitioncyborg

  7. Hardware Hackers Create a Modular Motherboard

    "The group has created a motherboard prototype that uses separate modules, each of which has its own processor, memory and storage. Each square cell in this design serves as a mini-motherboard and network node; the cells can allocate power and decide to accept or reject incoming transmissions and programs independently. Together, they form a networked cluster with significantly greater power than the individual modules." Sweet; custom systems from the ground up. Want.

    Tagged with: computersciencehardwaremotherboardmodularsystemsopen-source

  8. Comet Contains One of Life’s Precursors

    "Elsila says the extraterrestrial glycine may have formed inside the comet when UV light hit the molecular precursors and caused them to react. Researchers say this provides some of the best evidence thus far that the precursors for life may have originated in outer space. “We don’t know how life originated on the early Earth,” Elsila said. “But we have a pretty good idea that the comets and meteorites that bombarded the early Earth provided a lot of the material.”"

    Tagged with: sciencebiologylifeamino-acidcometpanspermiaorigins

  9. How to turn seawater into jet fuel

    "In the conventional Fischer-Tropsch process, carbon monoxide and hydrogen are heated in the presence of a catalyst to initiate a complex chain of reactions that produce a mixture of methane, waxes and liquid fuel compounds.

    Dorner and colleagues found that using the usual cobalt-based catalyst on seawater-derived CO2 produced almost entirely methane gas. Switching to an iron catalyst resulted in only 30 per cent methane being produced, with the remainder short-chain hydrocarbons that could be refined into jet fuel.

    Heather Willauer, the navy chemist leading the project, says the efficiency needs to be much improved, perhaps by finding a different catalyst."

    Tagged with: aviationfuelcatalysisresearchsea-waterchemistry


    "The driver of this fragility is that 75% of a typical American families budget (not counting education costs of kids) is dedicated to fixed expenses. This means that the loss a small as 10% in a family's income would be sufficient to force failure. Combine this fragility with increasing income volatility and even the slightest shock will set off a wave of extreme frugality and mushrooming financial failure at the household level. In the past, we were able to hide this fragility through increased debt/bubbles. That's over. We've already taken on as much debt (375% of GDP right now, and still climbing) as we can acquire and the banks are hoarding the bulk of federal cash infusions to paper over their insolvency (almost all of the toxic assets from last fall's debacle are still in place, and more are en route from commercial real-estate)."

    Tagged with: economicsUSfinanceeducationrecoverymythwishful-thinkingpropaganda

  11. Entrepreneurbia: rezoning suburbia for self-sustaining life

    "Rigid zoning laws have created many of the problems typically associated with suburban sprawl. Possibly the largest of these problems is the segregation of residential and commercial spaces. The problem is fairly straight forward. When people do not live, work, shop and eat within walking distance of where they live, extensive transportation infrastructure is needed to allow people to regularly travel greater distances.

    In Entrepreneurbia, such problems do not exist. Entrepreneurbia abolishes poorly conceived zoning laws to attract forward-thinking small business owners and start-up companies. The result is a community of entrepreneurs who transform inefficient single-family dwellings and purely decorative landscape spaces into intelligent home-based businesses. From chic shops & showrooms to designer offices, award-winning restaurants, and even boutique farms the new residents of Entrepreneurbia infuse once sterile suburbs with a distinctive sense of character & community."

    Tagged with: suburbandesignredevelopmentzoningeconomicscommunity

  12. Milky Way may have a huge hidden neighbour

    "In the best-fitting simulation, the unseen galaxy has about 1 per cent of the Milky Way's mass, or 10 billion times the mass of the sun.

    That's a lot. It means the object has roughly the same mass as the Milky Way's brightest satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).

    Right now, says Chakrabarti, the galaxy is roughly 300,000 light years away from us – about twice as far away as the LMC. But the simulations suggest it follows a highly elongated elliptical path, and about 300 million years ago it swept through our own galaxy just 16,000 light years from the galactic centre – closer in than Earth – disturbing the Milky Way's outskirts as it went."

    Tagged with: spacegalaxyuniverse

  13. An Open Letter to John C. Wright

    "We say homosexuality is a variant sexuality which does no intrinsic harm to the consenting adults that practice it or anyone else outwith their relationship, rejecting in no uncertain terms your arrant presumption that you have the privilege to impose your morés on us — or anyone else, for that matter — and criticising your judgementalism as ethically retarded. We reject all your "passkey" piffle, point to the bankruptcy of your "moral value," and contend that the presence of even the most basic skills of ethical evaluation is vastly preferable to your line of crap." Hal Duncan is so awesome that I'm tempted to become gay JUST TO BE MORE LIKE HIM. And to wind up pricks like Wright, too.

    Tagged with: prejudicehomophobiarebuttalHal-DuncanrhetoricempathyPWNZORED

  14. Should Thursday Be the New Friday? The Environmental and Economic Pluses of the 4-Day Workweek

    "Local governments in particular have had their eyes on Utah over the last year; the state redefined the workday for more than 17,000 of its employees last August. For those workplaces, there's no longer a need to turn on the lights, elevators or computers on Fridays—nor do janitors need to clean vacant buildings. Electric bills have dropped even further during the summer, thanks to less air-conditioning: Friday's midday hours have been replaced by cooler mornings and evenings on Monday through Thursday. As of May, the state had saved $1.8 million."

    Tagged with: workemployment4-day-weekeconomicsenvironmentwellbeing

  15. Cable’s New Dimension?

    " Prime Sense, an Israel-based company founded in 2005 that raised $20.4 million in "B" round funding last May, showed off a 3D camera that can hook into a cable set-top or any other display with a USB interface.

    The camera, powered by Prime Sense's chip, projects an infrared (IR) field into the room to help determine what's in front of the camera, going as far as identifying which "users" are sitting in front of the TV, based on their thermal images." Nice. Or not.

    Tagged with: televisiontechnologyinteractivesurveillance

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