Technolotics #14 – Blame it on Francis



Listen: Episode 14
Feed: RSS


Flock Released

Folksonomy browser released
Very early version
Includes blogging features, integration instead of bookmarks, and a feedreader

Why Google are really scanning the whole worlds library

Whats the point – the books can’t be read online, and google don’t have an online store
Searching within books seems a small return for such a large effort
When fururist George Dyson visited google recently, he got an interesting explanation for google books
“We are not scanning all those books to be read by people,” explained one of my hosts after my talk. “We are scanning them to be read by an AI.” [1]
This ties in with this weeks post from thegoogleblogger

Google Base is a web application, a publically accessable semantic-web database of everything [2]
Could be the backbone of an ebay style service but is probably much more
Google’s suggestsions include “Description of your party planning service; Articles on current events from your website; Listing of your used car for sale; Database of protein structures”.
This release could also mean that the long awaited equivalent of ebay’s paypal gmoney is coming
Google’s stock price is the highest its ever been.

Dysons article [3]
A thoroughly mapped symantically coded web would allow programs to operate as cellular automota – interacting in novel ways independent of the necessity for specific instructions
Turing “intellectual activity consists mainly of various kinds of search.”
Combine distributed semantised memory, which distributed emergent processing – you get, what? A conscious internet

He who controls the net (part 2)

As we’ve decribed in previous shows, a battle for control of the domain name root servers is taking place [4]
A number of developing countries are seeking to take control away from ICANN (a not for profit US coporation) and put it in the hand of a UN body
Last month Viviane Reding, the EU commissioner for Internet and media affairs proposed removing US oversight of ICANN
In the past the US had spoken of ending government connections to ICANN,
But in June the Department of Commerce statemented that the U.S. would retain control over the governing of the Internet
Recent government intervention has included preventing the deployment of the .XXX domain
Some fear that the internationalisation of ICANN will hasten the “cantonization” of the internet into a series of ‘internets’ segregated by firewalls, and edited to remove dissent and ‘socially undesirable content’

Human 2.0

A.I researcher Ray Kurzweil discusses the post human future [5]
Kurzweil argues we are approaching the technological singularity [6] – when the exponential benifits of digitalisation will be applied to human society through biotechnology and an erasure of the levels of separation between the mind/brain and the digital world
This is refered to as a singularity, because beyond this point, change in the computational power of intelligence and its impact on society becomes so rapid and profound it cannot be meaningfully predicted
This development of Moores Law is an example of Kurzweil’s Law of accelerating returns – when a system approaches a fundamental limit of complexity, a paradigmatic evolution occurs, allowing it to leap past that limit
Kurzweil belives that throughout history more complex forms of life have been evolving – with shorter and shorter gaps between leaps in evolution – an evolution ultimately leading to the end of evolution – with engineering replacing the random guesswork of natural selection
Kurzweil views scientific development as chaotic in a mathamatical sence, random but rule based and hense predictable
Leaps in nano-technology, genetics and molecular computing will result in complete flexability of the physical body, combined with enhancements of the mind increasing intelligence by incomprehensible amounts
Together the biological and computing revolutions will remove the gap between natural humans and created bio-tech intelligences
Nanobots will allows brain to brain communication, fully immersive virtual reality, and near imortality through gene repair and disease combat
Problems with this view

Ignores knowledge deficits and hyper complexity of the human brain – not a unitary organ, but a variety of interconnected systems
intelligence and cognitive functioning don’t merely rely on a neural net of interconnectiosn
also a complex neurotransmitter interchange – which differs from area to area within the brain
protein synthesis, influenced by genetic and epigenetic factors is a process which keeps revealing new onion like layers of complexity
No practical progress toward strong A.I has been made
Assuming the 20th century level of exponential development will continue ignores the specific economic and sociological factors which led to rapid technological development – e.g.: Effective peace in Western Europe and America, high Kensian Coldwar investment by government, cheap oil, microprocessor development (which may well not be replicated by molecular computing)

First bio-eclectronic organism created

In an interesting conjunction, the first functioning bio-mechanical organism has been created [7]
Ravi Saraf a University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineer, has grafted bacteria, a silicon chip and gold nano particles together to create a humidity measuring device [8]

The bacteria contract when they lose moisture, decreasing the distance between the nano particles and greatly increasing the current across the nano particles
Saraf wants to continue his research to produce devices powered by the energy of the bacteria itself – and integrating with the cells own logic

Yahoo criticised by Chinese Dissident

Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo has written to Yahoo founder Jerry Yang criticising Yahoo’s cooperation with China [9]
Lauren Gelman, Associate Director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society blog about this – asking why can’t western corporations like Cisco and Yahoo band together to develop ethical ways of working in China
Simply put..They will only do this if public pressure forces the creation of effective ‘ethics abroad legislation’ in the US and Europe – Chances of that low – none

or alternately if consumer pressure forces a change of policy – how ever, as coporations like Nike have shown, such changes generally last only as long as public attention is focused on a specific problem

Here’s a link to a mirror of the original FT article (which was subscriber only) [10]
Interestingly Liu Xiaobo claims that Yahoo lied about being legally obliged to hand over the bloggers information (without knowledge of how it would be used) as the Chinese business is located in Hong Kong, which has an independent judiciary

Flickr not as open as all that

Flickr have attempted to block access to amatur flickr porn site [flickerlicious]
This despite the site obaying flickrs terms of service, and the flickr founders being proponents of open API’s and social networking

How to punish bloggers

‘Attack of the Blogs’ from Forbes magazine [11]
The story describes 50% – 60% of criticism of companies by blogs as astroturfing by competitors (a random and nonsence figure)
Apparently ‘Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective’
Encourages business to build a ‘blog swarm’ of bribed bloggers
Suggests feeding dirt on critics to rival bloggers, using the DMCA to scare a bloggers host, threatening the host with defamation and ultimately evening suing bloggers
‘The potential for brand damage is really high’

Examples of ‘brand bashing’ given include Groklaws critques of SCO’s laughable were it not so dangerous attack on linux, and the security flaw discovered by bloggers in Kryptonite bicycle locks

Really makes you feel bad for the poor mega corporations – of course the genuine danger is a media so reduced to soundbites, so complacent and owned by so few vested interests that it ignores both stories which threaten its paymasters and any discussion of the deeper causes and implications of the stories it covers
The article is full of factual errors – for example makes veiled reference to [Jeff Gannon] describing how one right wing blogger was supposedly attacked for defending him

The article does not mention that Gannon, who’s real name is James Guckert – was attacked not for having been a gay prostitute, but for having worked as a shill for the whitehouse, masquerading about his identity and his press position, and his involvement in the [Valerie Plame] affair [12] – which has recently led to the indictment of whitehouse staffer Lewis Libby [13], and may yet lead to the conviction of top bush ‘advisor’ Karl Rove [14]

Media Pimp

Francis: He Man Sings 4 Non-Blondes [15]


One thought on “Technolotics #14 – Blame it on Francis

  1. Daryl says:

    Hi, guys. Thanks for featuring us in your broadcast. I got a kick out of your banter (let me assure you that we do not condone folksodomy!). To address a couple of points you brought up:

    – Our RSS story is incomplete as yet. We don’t support export to OPML, etc. I think there are bugs already logged for that and other enhancements to make feeds in Flock much more useful.

    – I’ve never heard a report of the back button weirdness you mention. If you can reproduce it consistently, it’d be peachey if you’d log a bug for it. 🙂

    There are definitely a lot of things like these that we need to get fixed. As you speculate, we did feel a bit of a crunch to get something out there. We’re generally following the “release early and often and try like hell to get the community involved” approach, which naturally has tradeoffs that you guys hit on.

    In any case, overwhelmingly positive review or not, I enjoyed hearing what you guys had to say, and I hope you’ll wait a month or two and try the browser again to see if at least some of the rough edges are smoothed out. We may not (yet!) be revolutionary in a month, but don’t forget that we’re less than four months down our path, and Firefox was 5 years in the making before it became mainstream. So give us a *leetle* more time. Thanks again.

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