This might be useful for some of you who are interested in surgery! Credit belongs to ASAPScience on Facebook. (Follow them for more cool science related facts and info!)
Criss-crossing the world with stops on almost every continent, San Francisco-based photographer Beth Moon spent the last 14 years seeking out some of the largest, rarest, and oldest trees on Earth to capture with her camera. Moon develops her exhibition prints with a platinum/palladium process, an extremely labor-intensive and rare practice resulting in prints with tremendous tonal range that are durable enough to rival the longitivity of her subjects, potentially lasting thousands of years. Moon’s collected work of 60 duotone prints were recently published in a new book titled Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time. From Abbeville Press:
This handsome volume presents sixty of Moon’s finest tree portraits as full-page duotone plates. The pictured trees include the tangled, hollow-trunked yews—some more than a thousand years old—that grow in English churchyards; the baobabs of Madagascar, called “upside-down trees” because of the curious disproportion of their giant trunks and modest branches; and the fantastical dragon’s-blood trees, red-sapped and umbrella-shaped, that grow only on the island of Socotra, off the Horn of Africa.
If there were just 100 of us, where and what would we be? Provocative graphic, from Jack Hagley.
In the high desert near Bluffdale, Utah, there lurks a creature made entirely of zeroes and ones. Called "MonsterMind", the project is an automated cyber weapon, perched atop the data flows into the National Security Agency's Mission Data Repository. According to recent revelations from former government contractor and NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Monstermind is both tremendously powerful and easily fooled. Here's the skinny on the biggest revelation from Wired's recent profile of Snowden. Author James Bamford writes:
Programs like this had existed for decades, but MonsterMind software would add a unique new capability: Instead of simply detecting and killing the malware at the point of entry, MonsterMind would automatically fire back, with no human involvement. That's a problem, Snowden says, because the initial attacks are often routed through computers in innocent third countries. “These attacks can be spoofed,” he says. “You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?”
As described, MonsterMind is a brute force approach to covert cyber war embodied in one program. In order to function, it scans a huge amount of electronic communication, all passing through the 247 acre facility, and looks for attacks. That's the scary part. The dumb part is how it automatically decides where to strike back. Spoofing, as Snowden mentioned, is a relatively simple technique for hiding where an attack comes from. It's the online equivalent of throwing a pebble to distract the prison guard while the plucky protagonist runs away.
Bamford describes this attack as Strangelovian, in reference to the Stanley Kubrick film about nuclear war. In the film, the Soviets develop a nuclear deterrent system that automatically attacks America if Russia gets hit first. The deterrent fails in part because the Americans didn't know about it, and the film ends with a montage of nuclear explosions, as an accidental American first strike triggers the apocalypse. The automatic strike-back mechanism and obscurity of Monstermind resemble this device, but the stakes are at least an order of magnitude less severe than all-out nuclear war.
Cyber attacks at present are mostly the theft of private data or bank information, with the occasional rare instance of actual industrial sabotage breaking a machine. None of this makes an automated strike-back system great, but it's still a far cry from the world-ending threat of thermonuclear war.
Read this and other revelations, including one about a contractor router that broke Syria's internet, at Wired.
The eternal competition to build the world’s tallest building has yielded striking landmarks and spectacular rivalries, both of which have escalated in the past century. With its building boom that started in the 1980s, China may have been a late entry, but it’s a force to be reckoned given its penchant for drama and its tenacity. But its most recent entry, announced last week, has the potential to blow all the others out of the water: the paired Phoenix towers will be built on an island and combine every sort of green technology, both feasible and far-fetched. Plus, they’ll be bright pink.
The Phoenix Towers will be built in China’s 10th-biggest city, Wuhan, which is located in the center of the country. The city is split between the banks of the Yangtze River and riddled with lakes. Given its proximity to moving water, it’s only natural that the towers be built with renewable energy in mind. The taller, “male” tower, named Feng, will loom one kilometer high, its sides equipped with photovoltaic panels and a wind turbine couched in its tapering spire. Its sister tower, Huang, will have walls filled with plants (“green walls”), house insect hotels, and be equipped with biomass boilers, which heat the structures by burning plant fuel. At its base, the towers will collect rainwater.
If some of these green technologies seem mysterious to you, you’re not alone; some reviews have called the structures an “environmental novelty act” and “a greenwashed dick-measuring contest.” The green technologies predictable at best (wind turbine), over-ambitious (the biggest biomass boilers ever designed) and downright enigmatic (what is a “thermal chimney”?) at worst.
But according to Laurie Chetwood, the founder of British architecture firm Chetwoods Architects that partnered with a Chinese group on the projec, this over-the-top design was no accident. She told design magazine Dezeen, "In China if you come up with a slightly mad idea, its almost not mad enough...We've applied as many environmental ideas as we possibly could to justify the shape and the size of [the towers].”
The kicker in this excess is that the steel and lattice that give the towers their structure will be a bright, vibrant fuchsia to mirror the spectacular sunsets famous in the region, the architects say. And the name, Phoenix, comes from the Chinese phoenix of legend, Fenghuang, which is often represented by both male and female entities.
In fact, much of the towers’ significance is more symbolic rather than, well, useful. The Feng ("male") tower can only be inhabited for about 100 floors, or about half of its height; the rest of the space in that and the other tower is devoted to mechanical and eco-friendly functions. Those involved in the project have indicated that their primary goal is to create a spectacular tourist attraction, reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower in utility."This is a big tourist idea right in one of the largest lakes in Wuhan," Chetwood said. "[The group that commissed the project is] turned on to the environmental idea but there's always obviously the commercial element at the base of it."
Some commentators fear that the towers will end up like some of China’s other ambitious construction projects: deserted and eerie, a misguided effort in eco-friendliness. But the plan is to build them in the middle of a huge city, so they won't be isolated at least. Construction is slated to begin later this year, and surely the most interesting challenges are yet to come.
Name: Laura Watson
Type of Project: Outdoor renovation
Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Type of building: Semi-detached shop front/cottage with 1200 sq. ft. backyard
Yesterday we were witness to the dramatic transformation of Laura's backyard. Today we're taking a look behind the scenes at a part of the project many of you may be curious about: the budget. We'll be comparing the final budget to her original project budget, to see what cost less than she thought it would and what cost more.
The singularity describes a tipping point, where the accelerating pace of technological progress leads to a hyperbolic and unstoppable growth in artificial intelligence, relegating humans to a secondary role for future scientific and technological developments.
One of the prerequisites for the intelligence explosion of the singularity is that a artificial superintelligence (ASI) be able to recursively improve itself, meaning that it could autonomously improve the design of its constituent software and hardware. While it is reasonable to assume that an AI of equal or slightly greater than human intelligence would possess the ability to improve its own software, it won't be able to modify its hardware without human assistance.
An AI is not a robot, it is a computer. It can think but cannot act beyond the digital realm. An ASI could wish it had more computing power. It could think about a more efficient hardware design. But unless there are already autonomous robots that can go get the raw materials and build machines of their own without human intervention, no AI could change its hardware. I have no doubt that tweaking the software can greatly increase a computer's power and range of abilities. However, if the hardware doesn't follow the ASI self-improvement will eventually reach an upper limit, and the singularity won't happen.
Besides, computers aren't eternal, and even have shorter lifespans than humans at the moment. Without transferring its data to another machine, the ASI would slow down and deteriorate as it ages, just like us. If an autonomous ASI wishes to keep increasing its performances exponentially, it will need to upgrade its hardware regularly.
Consequently the singularity isn't going to happen unless humans are willing to help the ASI improve its hardware, or until we build extremely capable robots that the ASI can use to modify the physical world.
The original meaning of technological singularity is a blind spot in our ability to predict the future once machines become millions of times more intelligent than all humans combined. No matter how hard we try to think about it, how many scenarios we envisage, we simply cannot know what will happen, and this is why it is so dangerous.
In the best case scenario, supported by Ray Kurzweil, all humans will share the benefits of the intelligence explosion by being connected to the ASI through neural implants. There won't be an ASI and us, but a single harmonious entity. The intelligence explosion will continue indefinitely, and eventually spread to all the universe with human-machines.
Others have imagined a utopian world ruled by a Friendly AI that manages everything perfectly for the sake of humans and other life beings, a perfect software that creates peace and prosperity and eliminates all suffering for everyone on Earth. It is easy to be tempted by such scenarios. But it could turn out just the opposite way too.
An evil, or more likely an indifferent or misguided ASI, could wipe out all humans and all life on Earth. A Terminator-like scenario, although prominent in the popular imagination, is in fact one of the least likely ways this could happen, unless humans purposefully build human-like terminator robots themselves, which would be extremely foolish and irresponsible. I don't see why a computer would need to build robots that look anything like humans or animals. There are plenty of more efficient designs, most of which we cannot even conceive of with our limited cognition, but that an ASI could.
There are apocalyptic scenarios scarier than powerful robots taking over the Earth and trying to eliminate humans. Among them is the grey goo hypothesis, in which molecular nanobots self-replicate out-of-control consume all matter on Earth while building more of themselves. Unfortunately this scenario does not even need the creation of an ASI to happen.
Although machines could be designed to have feelings and emotions, they wouldnever be quite like those of humans. In theory, a Friendly AI could be programmed to emulate only positive human traits like altruism, compassion, etc. The risk is that creating one positive feeling necessarily implies creating its opposite too. The laws of the universe want that things exist in duality. Heat cannot exist without cold. Light cannot exist without darkness. To be able to measure something on a scale, it needs to have an opposite end.
The problem is that if we try to teach a computer what kindness is, it will need to be defined by its opposite. By doing so, it creates the knowledge of the opposite feeling in the computer, and that's what is dangerous. If a bug happens or the AGI decides to reconfigure itself, it may start behaving the opposite way as it was originally programmed. It may even be safer not to try to emulate any emotion at all in a powerful AI. But then how do we protect ourselves ? We can never be sure that we will be safe because the ASI will behave in a way that we can't predict with our human thinking.
The development of an artificial superintelligence poses a real existential risk (i.e. the risk that the human race as a whole might be annihilated) that shouldn't be underestimated, as Michael Anissimov explains in an interview with Ben Goertzel for Humanity+ Magazine. Luke Muehlhauser, the Executive Director of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute (MIRI), scrutinizes the difficulties of building a superintelligence that does not kill us. The world renowned theoretical physicist and Nobel Prize laureate Stephen Hawking says that creating an ASI "would be the biggest event in human history", although he warns that "it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks".
One of the most serious risks would be to let ASI take control of an army of highly skilled and dexterous robots. The danger is not just that these robots could attack humans, but more indirectly that they would possess the ability to improve the hardware of the ASI, allowing for the unrestrained exponential growth of its intelligence toward the singularity. Once this happens, the ASI could design and build anything it wants, be it robots, machines or other "beings" that are beyond our limited human imagination. If we want the singularity to happen as safely as possible for humans, the ASI should remain under human control.
One way to prevent a computer-based ASI to improve its hardware would be to make sure that robots are never autonomous enough to get to the ASI computer on their own with the necessary equipment to improve the hardware. That may prove extremely difficult if the ASI can get control of autonomous vehicles, advance humanoid robots and 3-D printers or nanobots that can be used to manufacture computer hardware. Obviously the ASI computer would need to be guarded only by humans, not by machines that it could control to restrict access to humans.
If that wasn't bad enough, even if we make sure that the ASI computer cannot be reached by other machines that could tweak its hardware, there is still an alternative way for it to get the job done. If at least some humans do get neural implants to improve their cognition or use telepathy (or 'techlepathy', as George Dvorsky called it), then an ASI could potentially hack into their brains and take control of their bodies, just like robots. And it does look like we are heading soon toward the use of neural implants.
In an interview for io9, Kevin Warwick, professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading, Anders Sandberg, a neuroscientist at the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, and futurist Ramez Naam, all agreed that we already have the technologies required to build an early version of the telepathic noosphere. Telepathic networks could be built within a few years from now, but would really become powerful enough to become attractive to the general population and compete with other forms of telecommunications from the late 2020's or early 2030's. That timing is well ahead of the most optimistic dates for the singularity.
Commercial brain-computer interfaces have barely entered the market and they have already been proven to be hackable, although not yet to control a person's movements.
Considering the risks involved in letting an artificial general intelligence grow exponentially out of human control, it would be unwise and indeed extremely irresponsible to allow for the technological singularity to occur. The singularity basically means that technology grows beyond our control and that we surrender our destiny to superior machine intelligence. Why would we want to do that ?
I am all in favour of progress, but humans do not need the singularity to live much better lives. It would be easy to prevent AI and autonomous robots to evolve beyond a certain risk threshold while sustaining exponential growth in various fields of technology. The aim for the next few decades would be to achieve a post-capitalist society of abundance with free Internet and telecoms and extremely cheap solar energy and 3-D printed products for everyone. Agricultural robots would efficiently tend vertical farms. Advances in biotechnologies would put an end to diseases and stop or reverse aging. Genetic enhancement and BCI would work to increase human intelligence and empathy. And so on.
I am fine with supercomputers helping humans manage the world more efficiently, but do we need one (or several) ASI billions of times more intelligent than us that keeps improving itself way beyond our control and imagination ? Wouldn't it be safer to keep distinct computers with specialized functions instead of building an omnipotent AGI ? So long as there is no centralized AI that controls all the computers and robots worldwide, the risks remain constraint. But how could a supercomputer be prevented access to other machines in the age of the Internet of Things, where all electronic devices are connected in a huge global network ?
Humans like to test the limits of their capabilities. Sometimes they build machines just because they can, not because it is in their best interest. We can build supercomputers to help us solve problems that we couldn't solve on our own. It is fine to create one extremely powerful AI to serve as a universal translator of human languages. It is fine to build another one to help us diagnose medical conditions. It is fine to build as many AI as needed for specific, limited tasks, as long as there is no way for them to form a unified, self-aware, or at least autonomous intelligence that starts making decisions beyond our control. Achieving the singularity requires us granting an AGI free, unchecked capability to control machines and improve itself at will, and that simply isn't a sane thing to do.
The existential risk involved in the creation of an artificial superintelligence is taken seriously enough by a number of researchers to have given rise to a number of scientific institutions and organizations to discuss and tackle the issue, including theMachine Intelligence Research Institute, Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, the Future of Humanity Institute (University of Oxford), the Centre for Study of Existential Risk (University of Cambridge), and the Lifeboat Foundation.
Maciamo Hay is a researcher in genetics, as well as a futurist, philosopher, historian, linguist, and travel writer. He is also deeply interested in neurosciences, psychology, anthropology and cultural studies. He has achieved fluency in six foreign languages.
Maciamo has lived in eight countries and currently resides in Brussels, Belgium.
This article originally appeared on his website on futurism and transhumanism here : http://www.vitamodularis.org/articles/why_the_singularity_may_not_happen.shtml
Well known transhumanist writer George Dvorsky on animal intelligence, personhood, and why the Turing Test is bullshit, that is, it isn't a very good test for intelligence.
Once seen as a passing fad for those that could afford them, hybrid vehicles have come very far in terms of energy efficiency and design over the last decade. The inspirational Nimbus e-Car, however, takes hybrid automotive design to a whole new (and adorable) level. Created by Brazilian artist and designer, Eduardo Galvani, this all-terrain electric minibus is a concept e-car made for serious energy conscious road warriors who want to travel in style.
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Post tags: automobile design, Car Design, concept hybrid bus, Eduardo Galvani, electrical engine, hybrid car design, lithium-ion battery powered car, low energy consumption cars, Nimbus e-Car
Taking a page from the successful fight against Big Tobacco, Berkeley, California could soon become the first American city to require that its gas pumps are affixed with stickers warning drivers that burning gasoline exacerbates climate change and causes CO2 emissions. Engineered by grassroots environmental group 350 Bay Area, this “Beyond the Pump” campaign is modeled after warnings on cigarette packaging as the latest front in the battle against Big Oil. In addition to Berkeley, the group is aiming to get San Francisco and Oakland on board with the global warming gas pump labels.
Read the rest of Berkeley Could Soon Require Global Warming Stickers on Gas Pumps
A revolutionary new clean energy technology is getting set to change the way we think about wind power. The Solar Wind Downdraft Tower, created by Maryland-based Solar Wind Energy Inc. turns the traditional wind turbine design on its head by putting turbines at the base of a tubular tower that generates its own wind throughout the year. How does it work? Read on.
This is nuts. An inventive Russian YouTuber has figured out how to turn plastic bottles into string, using purely mechanical means. After "unraveling" a single bottle he's left with what appear to be several yards' worth of filament, which he then uses to bind things together. Hitting the resultant plastic twine with a heat gun causes it to partially melt and shrink, more or less fusing it into place.
Esto puede ser un poco chocante para muchas personas, pero tenemos la convicción de que es algo que todo el mundo debe saber: En contra de la creencia popular, las cacas de perro no son recogidas mágicamente por la famosa Hada de las Cacas.
El Hada de las Cacas no existe, es una leyenda, un cuento sin fundamento. Las cacas de perro quedan ahí hasta que se descomponen orgánicamente, siendo durante ese proceso un foco de enfermedades para quienes entran en contacto con ellas (especialmente, los niños).
En un parque de Chicago han tenido la idea de colocar unos carteles explicativos para concienciar a la población. Esperemos que aquí tomen alguna iniciativa similar.
Visto en BitsAndPiecesVer más: caca, perros
By Ali Morris
It was during a trip to independent furniture show BKLYN Designs last year that New Yorkers John Neamonitis and Charlie Miner came up with the concept for their new website, WorkOf. Launched in January of this year, WorkOf is an online platform that is helping New York's thriving designer-maker community to reach consumers while providing consumers with a new way of discovering hard-to-find design. "I was walking around [BKLYN Designs] and there was all of this really amazing work," says Miner. "I was asking people, 'Where would I go to buy this stuff? Is there a somewhere where I can find it all in one place?' and everyone told me it didn't exist." Surprised and frustrated by the response they were getting, Neamonitis and Miner set about creating a solution.
WorkOf functions like a collective online storefront for its community, directing traffic to the designers' websites and online stores. "We launched with 20 makers but have nearly 40 now," says Miner, reflecting on a very busy five months. While every designer brings his or her own unique style to the table, the pieces are united by a raw, industrial aesthetic that identifies them as handmade in Brooklyn. Industrial brass lighting fixtures come courtesy of Workstead and Allied Maker, while Stefan Rurak's heavy, reclaimed wood furniture and the blackened steel frames of Vidi Vixi's pieces are softened by Calico's ombre wallpapers and Fort Makers' painterly fabrics.
Although membership of WorkOf is free, applications are carefully considered. Miner explains, "Although we're certainly open to people approaching us—I mean, that's what we want to do, to support the community—we also want to be sure that the artists we represent are commercially viable; that they can scale to meet demand and that they can handle customers in a professional way because it reflects on everybody. It's not a hobbyist platform, it's not for amateurs."(more...)
All photos courtesy of Atlanta's High Museum of Art // Buick Streamliner, 1948
It ain't just New York, Los Angeles and Chicago that get the killer design shows. Next month Atlanta's High Museum of Art is hosting an exhibition called "Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas," co-curated with the automotive writer and historian Ken Gross, and the show will highlight some socks-knocking concept cars going all the way back to 1935. ""It's a really exciting exhibition that explores the ideas behind design [and] what innovation means in something as ubiquitous as the automobile," says Sarah Schleuning, the museum's Curator of Decorative Arts and Design.
Alfa Romeo BAT 7, 1954
Stout Scarab, 1936(more...)
The FoldaRap open-source 3D printer can be folded to fit into your rucksack and prints objects on the go. French designer Emmanuel Gilloz developed the 140x140x140mm device over the course of seven months and has now, thanks to a successful crowdfunding campaign, created new prototypes and beta-testers.
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Post tags: 3D printers, 3D printing, crowdfunding campaign 3d printer, foldable 3d printer, FoldaRap, FoldaRap 3d printer, green gadgets, open source design, open-source 3d printer, RepRap 3d printer, self-replicating 3d printer, ulele campaign
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Post tags: Bio-digital architecture at Expo Milano 2015, custom designed ETFE cladding system, ecoLogic Studio combine technology and biology, organic canopy for Future Food District project by Carlo Ratti Associati, reactive bio-digital architecture by ecoLogic Studio, responsive algae canopy by ecoLogic Studio, responsive bio-digital canopy at Expo Milano 2015, special CNC welding technology, Urban Algae Canopy by ecoLogic Studio at Expo Milano 2015
Beneath their spotless surfaces, rivers are often incredibly filthy and not particularly easy to clean up. After all, you can’t just bust out your vacuum and suck up all of the debris lingering there, or can you? James Dyson believes that cleaning our rivers is just as simple as creating a sort of larger version of his vacuum to remove all of that unwanted gunk. He calls his idea the M.V. Recyclone and it is essentially a river barge equipped with the same cyclone technology used in his vacuums.
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Post tags: cleaning river garbage, cleaning river waste, cleaning rivers, cleaning up dirty rivers, dirty waterways, Dyson vacuum, Fast Company James Dyson, James Dyson, James Dyson inventions, James Dyson MV recyclone, James Dyson vacuum, Recyclone, River barge recyclone, river barge vacuum, river garbage, river waste, Time Magazine ideas issues, Time Magazine James Dyson, trash in rivers, vacuuming river garbage, vacuuming river waste
One of the biggest things holding back electric motorcycles is their limited driving range – but the Johammer J1 could finally put electric bikes on the map. With a 125 mile range, the Johammer J1 is a stylish bike that allows riders to hit the road and travel far from home.
By now most people know how important it is to recycle bottles and cans – but do you know what happens to your used containers once you toss them in the blue bin? I Want to Be Recycled has launched a great series of infographics that show exactly how common consumer products like cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, and steel cans are processed, broken down, and remade into fresh new materials. Check them all out by clicking through our gallery below!
The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat? Send us a tip by following this link. Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing!
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Post tags: aluminum can, bottle recycling, can recycling, green design, I Want to Be Recycled, infographic, Recycled Materials, recycling, recycling infrastructure, Recycling initiatives, recycling system, sustainable design
(Defined as a self creating/self constructing decentralized autonomous corporation which is seeded by an instruction set, watered by crowd funding, and provided sunlight through community participation).
To understand how DACs are created we can remember the metaphor of seed, water, sunlight (SWS).
An autopoietic DAC is a DAC which is self creating, self designing, and self improving. This kind of DAC is almost like an artificial lifeform because it is given a set of instructions to act as its DNA, those instructions allow the DAC to evolve over time. The instruction set is just an algorithm, and a DAC can be designed in a way so that sunlight (human participation) is incentivized when it produces a more intelligent DAC.
Finding an algorithm to build an autopoietic DAC is not going to be easy. Proof of Stake allows for voting (human participation) on bounties. Proof of Commitment/Contribution is an algorithm which rewards human participation in DACs by measuring the level of commitment and crediting that for payout. A decentralized bounty exchange can be used by DACs to submit bounties to human participants in the form of Ask/Bid with the bounty token being a unique digital token similar to cryptocurrencies, highly divisible, and exchangeable between humans before an expiration date. The human who submits the token ultimately receives the credit for Proof of Commitment if the decentralized bounty exchange algorithm is used.
An additional method would be for the autopoietic DAC to license it’s construction out to the builder or getwork DAC. That DAC uses Proof of Stake voting to allow the community of shareholders to set a priority level for every bounty via a rating, list descriptions of jobs they believe are necessary, and the Proof of Commitment/Contribution algorithm treats human labor as if it is mining. So difficulty rises as more humans are doing the same task which means the payout adjusts downward, while difficulty decreases when fewer humans want to do a particular task which makes the payout adjust upward. The more unpopular the task the greater the payoff becomes which allows for a smooth and predictable voter generated bounty distribution system to pay for the construction of any DAC.
Exploring the the Darkside of Artificial Intelligence: thoughts, ideas, rants, and research from darklight
"you think darkness is your ally. But you merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, moulded by it."
Our current governments do not work. I'm talking broadly here, but this is no generalization. You would be hard pressed to find a government on the planet today that operates as efficiently and effectively as it should, given the collective knowledge generated by our scientific and larger academic enterprises. This is true for the decisions our governments make about economic, social, and environmental problems. To make matters worse, our government institutions do not even work for the people (which, after all, was the whole point of the democracy!).
Fortunately, there is hope! Advances in information and communication technologies (ICT) as well as collaborative Web 2.0 features of the Internet give us the tools to build governance systems for the 21st century. But what properties should our next governance system possess? In order to start a larger discussion on this subject I have released a Working Paper proposing the theoretical ground work for what I call a "Distributed Digital Democracy".
First, our future system should be distributed. This means that decisions would be "spread out" (non-randomly!) to maximize the collective intelligence of our society (which is massively intelligent - just think about all of the hyper-specialist knowledge produced by academia every year!).
Second, our future system should be digital. Digital mediums have already proven that they are effective platforms that can maximize collective intelligence in a distributed fashion (just think about the progress made by Wikipedia over the past 10 years!). The reason digital mediums allow for the maximization of collective intelligence is because of the phenomenon of stigmergy. Stigmergic interactions are interactions between "agents" in a shared environment. All interactions are saved and stored so that the same problems do not have to be solved repeatedly. Consequently a stigmergic environment allows for rapid "ratcheting up" of complexity. This would allow for the development of governments that are continually "re-thinking" themselves and constantly improving... just like the scientific process! We expect non-stop progress from science, why do we not expect the same from our governments?
Third, our future system should be democratic (obviously). At the moment, we really do not have a democracy. We get to pick between two - or three, four, five - individuals, depending on the "democracy" we live in. Then once we get our pseudo-choice we really do not have any further say in the organization and direction of society. Sure, we do public polling and this can have an affect sometimes. But it really does not affect change fast enough or efficiently enough. We need a new form of collaborative democracy, where we are allowed to vote on ideas, and not people. No one person or ideology can possibly represent the complexity of the modern world. So why is our political system still organized as if it can? Furthermore, individual campaigns are costly and time consuming. And ideologies usually erect insurmountable barriers to discussion about complex social, economic, and environmental issues.
A new governance system is possible. We can have a governance system based on complex systems science and collective intelligence theory. It will take a great deal of hard work, but it is possible. Our current systems are not embedded in the laws of physics. They are socioeconomic constructions with histories. As active agents, we can construct new institutions; institutions that work for the 21st century. The Distributed Digital Democracy system is structured within the paradigm of the global brain (GB) and designed to be flexible and incorruptible. A better world is possible. A better governance system is the way to get there. So let's start a real discussion about how to build it.
You can read the paper here: Distributed Digital Democracy
Cadell Last is an evolutionary scientist (M.Sc.), science writer, researcher, founder of The Advanced Apes, and digital media junkie based in Toronto, Ontario. His research and writing speciality is in human evolutionary science. Cadel is focused on exploring the intersection between biochemical and technocultural evolution and how these processes can help us understand the human past, present, and future. Currently he works with the Global Brain Institute, specifically focused on how the Internet will fundamentally change major human institutions.
Learn more about digital democracy: https://www.coursera.org/course/digitaldemocracy
While much of the Northern Hemisphere clenched its collective teeth through yet another week of bitter cold, the end of February was a rather multifaceted celebration of art and design in South Africa when Design Indaba, World Design Capital 2014 events, the Cape Town Art Fair, and the Guild Design Fair converged in Cape Town (surely not by coincidence, as 2014 also marks the 20th anniversary of the nation's independence). The latter event was organized by the same folks behind Southern Guild, who made a strong showing at the very first Collective Design Fair last May, and like the NYC event, Guild skewed toward the Design Miami crowd. Not that there's anything wrong with that—I wish I'd had more time to explore the eclectic offerings on view (not that the multi-building venue was that big anyhow).
Nacho Carbonell exhibition in the courtyard
Instead, I chanced upon an exhibitor whose mission is precisely to engage the Cape Town design community and public at large in a meaningful way. I recognized Daniel Charny immediately—I posted a video of his talk from Design Indaba 2013 just a few days prior—and he proudly gave me a tour of the Maker Library at Guild.
As its name suggests, it's a variation on a makerspace, a community hub that serves as a library-like resource for designers even as it transcends the scope of a mere repository of information. Rather, the Maker Library is designed to be a workshop and studio as much as it is a gallery, and the 'Librarian in Residence'—Heath Nash, in the case of Guild—is not only a knowledgeable administrator but a well-connected member of the local design community.
The Maker Library initiative finds its origins in the British Council, an organization is tasked with "educational opportunities and cultural relations" around the world. This year sees a focus on South Africa: As 2014 sees the nation enter its second decade of independence, so too is the first generation of "born-frees" on the cusp of adulthood, and an arts program called Connect ZA (sometimes styled as "Connect/ZA"; pronounced "Connect Zed-A," per the local flavor) is intended to meet them halfway.
Although the exhibition closed on March 9 along with the rest of the Guild Design Fair, the British Council / ConnectZA have posted an open call for other Maker Libraries in South Africa; applications are due on April 4. Here is a selection of the work from the Maker Library at Guild, which Charny organized with V&A curator Jana Scholze:
** La pizza que ordenó Ellen Degeneres en Los Oscar estuvo valorizada en más de 10 millones de dólares (en publicidad) y el repartidor recibió gran propina
Fueron los tres minutos más memorables en la historia de los Óscar: Un repartidor de pizza ingresaba al teatro Dolby y, con la ayuda de Brad Pitt, alimentaba a los más famosos de Hollywood. Según cifras económicas, el momento estuvo valorizado en 10 millones de dólares, a favor de los dueños de la pizzería Big Mamma’s & Pappa’s. Solo bastó con tener el logo del restaurante en cada una de las cajas de reparto.
Durante la noche de los Óscar, cada 30 segundos de espacio publicitario tuvo un costo de 1,8 millones de dólares. Esto significa que la pizzería se ahorró 10 millones en publicidad. Fue el ‘cherry’ más grande de la historia. Eso sin contar con el valor de las 20 pizzas y de la gran propina que recibió Edgar Martirosyan, el repartidor.
En la ceremonia se vio cómo la presentadora Ellen Degeneres hizo una colecta en sombrero para pagar la pizza. Brad Pitt y Martin Scorsese fueron algunos de los famosos que desembolsaron varios dólares. Todo parecía parte del espectáculo, pero no. Al día siguiente, Degeneres invitó al joven repartidor a su programa para hacerle entrega de los 1000 dólares que había recolectado.
“Me dijeron que sólo iba a entregar pizza a unos escritores. Después tú me dijiste que te siga. Te seguí y de repente veo que estábamos en un escenario. Estaba en shock”, confesó Edgar a la comediante y anfitriona de los premios.
Cuando regresó a la pizzería, luego de esa gran comisión, Edgar fue recibido por sus compañeros como un héroe. Además, durante el resto de la noche el teléfono no dejó de sonar, todos quería comer la misma pizza que los famosos