August 29, 2009
Here is some stuff I read on the internet today.
China is trying to be less dependent on harvesting organs from prisoners, (while incidentally admitting that they do kill people and take their organs).
China is trying to move away from the use of executed prisoners as the major source of organs for transplants.
Musing on the planet as a hard-drive.
A couple from Cryptogon: Birth control vaccine patent, and a bill to give the US President power to pull parts of the internet in an emegency.
The fallacy of climate change – arguing that soft-peddling the doom, and holding off from engaging with the utter life change that is required to adjust our unsustainable lives to something sustainable, is really limiting the climate movement’s effectiveness. (Man, even the Pope is saying Creation is under threat.)
and finally, John Key is to whore NZ tourism on the Late Show with Dave Letterman. He will apparently present a top ten list. Clearly a symptom of the dissolution of hyper-reality.
Maybe I should just stop reading stuff on the internet. Oh, wait, I’ve been here before…
August 26, 2009
We haven’t posted much about DARPA for the past couple of years, but these two programs are pretty startling.
During military operations it can be important to gain covert access to denied or hostile space. Unmanned platforms such as mechanical robots are of limited effectiveness if the only available points of entry are small openings.
The goal of the Chemical Robots (ChemBots) Program is to create a new class of soft, flexible, mesoscale mobile objects that can identify and maneuver through openings smaller than their dimensions and perform various tasks.
But hey, take another hit on the crack pipe, and hold on.
A revolutionary new technology may allow future warfighters to command their equipment to physically change itself to meet new operational needs or to form spare parts or tools. Researchers are developing techniques to order materials to self-assemble or alter their shape, perform a function and then disassemble themselves. These capabilities offer the possibility for morphing aircraft and ground vehicles, uniforms that can alter themselves to be comfortable in any climate, and â€œsoftâ€ robots that flow like mercury through small openings to enter caves and bunker complexes.
Zakin envisions programmable matter in this way: In the future a soldier will have something that looks like a paint can in the back of his vehicle. The can is filled with particles of varying sizes, shapes and capabilities. These individual bits can be small computers, ceramics, biological systemsâ€”potentially anything the user wants them to be. The soldier needs a wrench of a specific size. He broadcasts a message to the container, which causes the particles to automatically form the wrench. After the wrench has been used, the soldier realizes that he needs a hammer. He puts the wrench back into the can where it disassembles itself back into its components and re-forms into a hammer. â€œThat is the essence of programmable matter,â€ he says.
Exhale the smoke.
The future is going to be weirder than anyone can imagine.
August 23, 2009
Unexpected things that happened this weekend:
* shook hands (and had my photo taken) with John Banks.
* discovered wattles go crazy this time of year, all shrieking yellows, scarlet and pink. (Not actually sure what the scarlets and pinks were, but they seemed related.)
* found a bar in Auckland I liked.
* found a copy of Mount Analogue by Rene Daumal for $5. \m/
August 20, 2009
Saturday, 22 August Wellington cyclists are gathering for a photo op and a group cycle ride. The aim is to promote cycling as a low-carbon form of transportation (www.350.or.nz) and to raise further awareness about the need for safe cycle lanes in the city. We will start the day at 11.45am in front of St Johns by the waterfront (5 Cable St, near Mac’s Brewery) where we will form a huge 350 human/cycle sculpture, take a great photo, tell the media what we’re doing and why, and then go on a short cycle ride. Kashi Leuchs (3x Olympic Mtn Bike rider), Frocks on Bikes, Cycle Aware Wellington (CAW), avid & recreational cyclists will all be there. So come out and support safe cycling and the 350 movement!
When: Saturday, 22 August
Time: 11.45am – please be prompt for the photo!
Where: In front of St Johns on the waterfront, 5 Cable St.
August 18, 2009
Just read a fascinating article about how cellphones, wifi, and the general tendency towards GPS everything means that there will be a huge volume of personal data about where we are and when – and what use can be made of this.
With the data out and specialized analytics emerging, this infant industry is already doing some pretty amazing work. Your space-time-travel data makes where you live and where you work self-evident, and it reveals your most frequent, periodic, infrequent and rare destinations.
The data reveals the number of co-workers that join you Thursdays after work for a beer, and roughly where you all go. It knows where these same co-workers call home, and just exactly what kind of neighborhood they come from (e.g., average income, average home price) â€¦ information certainly useful to attentive direct marketing folks.
From there it gets a bit more speculative.
I can barely get my mind around the ramifications. My concept about what comes next shifts almost daily now. A government not so keen on free speech could use such data to see a crowd converging towards a protest site and respond before the swarm takes form â€“ detected and preempted, this protest never happens. Or worse, it could be used to understand and then undermine any political opponent.
A stalker might be questioned just days after he starts and before his victim is personally aware of it â€“ detection previously beyond human capacity. Maybe itâ€™s not a crime in this case, and it turns out to be just a private investigator with poor tradecraft hired by a suspicious husband.
Such a surveillance intensive future is inevitable, irreversible and as I have said before here â€¦ irresistible.
And the rest of the article takes it further. I don’t have much comment on it, other than it is interesting speculation, informative about the status of trends already happening, and worth reading as we head into spimeworld.
August 16, 2009
August 15, 2009
This is required viewing.
The deep field is the furtherest the Hubble telescope has looked into space. This is a short 3d video of what it found. Probably the simplest and most staggering way to grasp the scale of the universe. Extraordinary.
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August 12, 2009
As an update to the last post, things are actually worse than embarassing.
NZ has announced to the world that our emissions cuts of 10-20% are conditional on developing nations cutting emissions by 30-40%. And that we aren’t planning on making any real changes, only meeting those targets by carbon offsetting.
The mind boggles at how shite this is.
John Key. Worst. Leader. Ever.
So after all the consultations, the government announced their plan to deal with climate change, with the announcement of 10% emissions reduction – maybe 20% if the rest of the world plays ball first. Never mind that Germany and Scotland have opted for 40% or higher. Never mind that the science says less than 40% is incommensurate with ongoing human civilisation.
We are led by a donkey.
And, y’know, the world is noticing:
So yet again, New Zealand gets awarded a fossil. The Climate Action Network unanimously awarded New Zealand the fossil for:
Adopting a completely inadequate mid term target and demanding that the accounting rules get changed in its favour. This follows comments in the New Zealand Parliament where the Government criticised small Pacific Island States for advocating for the targets needed to ensure their survival.
Embarassing. And scary too.