Tag Archives | Science

Top 5 Moments In Decentralization History

Via COINTELEGRAPH

Decentralization is at the heart of Bitcoin’s core principals. I hesitate to use that term because I think overuse of it can lead to rigid thinking, but if there is even one core principal of Bitcoin, decentralization is it. But Bitcoin isn’t the only major instance of decentralization shaking up the course of history, neither is the internet; at least, if you are able to keep an open mind about what exactly decentralization means.

The Internet and in particular Bitcoin are the two best examples of something resembling true decentralization in history, where pretty much every participant got equal access at a relatively reasonable pace; even then, there are some centralization issues. The other examples that are listed here were hampered in reaching the masses either through intentional suppression by those who controlled it, or technological limitations or both. Nevertheless, they do represents mankind’s previous attempts at or accidental creations of situations that greatly, even if only briefly, broke down the pillars of centralization.

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The Billionaires’ Space Club Is About Ego, Not Exploration

Apollo 8 Reentry (photo via NASA)

Apollo 8 Reentry (photo via NASA)

via Slate:

It’s an old trick. Multimillionaires regularly try to spin acts of crass ego gratification as selfless philanthropy, no matter how obviously self-serving. They jump out of balloons at the edge of the atmosphere, take submarines to the bottom of the ocean, or shoot endangered animals on safari, all in the name of science and exploration. The more recent trend is billionaires making fleets of rocket ships for private space exploration. What makes this one different is that the public actually seems to buy the farce. Space buffs everywhere are acting as if everyone in the world will somehow be enriched when Lady Gaga is finally able to sip pink Cristal in zero gravity. Call it the trickle-down theory of space exploration: Somehow, building a luxury-liner suborbital rocket ship for the amusement of the ultrarich, ultrafamous, and ultrabored will be a great victory for all of humanity.

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The Future Is Local, The Future Is Not Monsanto

via RINF:

The US as a nation consumes more than anyone else, virtually at the expense of everyone else. The petrodollar system has ensured that imports into the US have been cheap and readily available. Post 1945, Washington has been able to take full advantage of the labour and the material resources of poor countries.

Consider that ‘developing’ nations account for more than 80 percent of world population but consume only about a third of the world’s energy. Also bear in mind that US citizens constitute 5 percent of the world’s population but consume 24 percent of the world’s energy. On average, one American consumes as much energy as two Japanese, six Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, 307 Tanzanians and 370 Ethiopians [1].

The US is able to consume the way it does because of high demand for the US dollar: it is the world reserve currency.

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Billions of Dollars + Zero Wisdom = Google Hires Resident Philosopher

Picture of italian philosopher Luciano Floridi (Stefano Oreschi via Wikimedia Commons).

Picture of italian philosopher Luciano Floridi (Stefano Oreschi via Wikimedia Commons).

via Pacific Standard:

How an Oxford don is helping the tech giant understand the nature of modern identity—and stay out of court.

One day this past September, Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, sat down with a group of experts in Madrid to begin publicly discussing how Google should respond to a recent, perplexing ruling by the European Union’s Court of Justice. In May, the court had declared that, in accordance with the European “right to be forgotten,” individuals within the E.U. should be able to prohibit Google and other search firms from linking to personal information that is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive.”

In an age of revenge porn, social media gaffes, and all the infinite varieties of embarrassment that can attend one’s name in a Google search, the ruling was, in spirit, an attempt to keep ordinary Europeans from being unduly tyrannized by an Internet that, famously, never forgets.

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Global Citizenship: Technology Is Rapidly Dissolving National Borders

Lars Plougmann (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Lars Plougmann (CC BY-SA 2.0)

By  via Singularity Hub

Besides your passport, what really defines your nationality these days?

Is it where you were live? Where you work? The language you speak? The currency you use?

If it is, then we may see the idea of “nationality” quickly dissolve in the decades ahead. Language, currency and residency are rapidly being disrupted and dematerialized by technology.

Where you live, where you work…

Increasingly, technological developments will allow us to live and work almost anywhere on the planet… (and even beyond).

Soon, you’ll be able to live in the Greek Islands and work in Manhattan, London, and Los Angeles.

Telepresence & Virtual Environments

Today I use telepresence robots to telecommute around the globe, attend an XPRIZE meeting in India, or if I’m overseas, pop home for breakfast or dinner with my kids.

The product I personally use comes from Suitable Technology and is called the “Beam.” I have about 15 beams across my different companies, and I’ll be integrating another 20 beams into my Abundance 360 Summit.

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Topaz Turns On 9 Million Solar Panels at World’s Largest Photovoltaic Power Plant

Oregon Department of Transportation (CC BY 2.0)

Oregon Department of Transportation (CC BY 2.0)

Via IEEE Spectrum:

Silence generally reigns across California’s Carrizo Plain, about 160 kilometers northwest of Los Angeles. But for much of the past three years, this expanse of grassland and farms was anything but silent, as up to 880 people trucked out each day to the plain’s sparsely inhabited northern end to build a hefty power plant. On a bright October afternoon, only a handful of construction workers remain, and the nearly completed plant is generating at close to full tilt. And yet it makes nary a click, buzz, or whir, even as it pumps hundreds of megawatts of electricity into California’s power grid.

The utter quiet is a facet of the technology. This is the world’s largest solar power plant, Topaz Solar Farms, where First Solar, based in Tempe, Ariz., has erected nearly 9 million of its cadmium-telluride thin-film photovoltaic panels across 19 square kilometers of former ranchland.

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Follow the Money: Meet the US Senate’s most important anti-environmentalist

Global average temperature anomaly since 1880, compared to the average temperature from 1901 to 2000. (NOAA).

Global average temperature anomaly since 1880, compared to the average temperature from 1901 to 2000. (NOAA).

Via The Verge

In 2003, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) and then-chair of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, took to the Senate floor and asked, “With all of the hysteria, all of the fear, all of the phony science, could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people?” More than 10 years of science has been completed since Inhofe first posed his question. Nearly all of it shows climate change is definitely not a hoax. That hasn’t stopped Sen. Inhofe and other conservative politicians from waging a crusade against climate policy and science.

The Senate changes hands

Republicans took back the Senate in the November elections. That means Inhofe is headed back to the EPW chairmanship after a seven-year absence. He’s promised to use his position to stop environmental legislation in its tracks and rein in the Environmental Protection Agency.

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The Unreality of Time

violscraper via flickr

violscraper via flickr

Via Physics Central

Philosophy and physics may seem like polar opposites, but they regularly address quite similar questions. Recently, physicists have revisited a topic with modern philosophical origins dating over a century ago: the unreality of time. What if the passage of time were merely an illusion? Can a world without time make sense?

While a world without the familiar passage of time may seem far-fetched, big names in physics, such as string theory pioneer Ed Witten and theorist Brian Greene, have recently embraced such an idea. A timeless reality may help reconcile differences between quantum mechanics and relativity, but how can we make sense of such a world? If physics does indeed suggest that the flow of time is illusory, then philosophy may be able to shed light on such a strange notion.

British philosopher J.M.E McTaggart advanced this idea in 1908 in his paper titled, “The Unreality of Time.

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Let’s leave behind the age of fossil fuel. Welcome to Year One of the climate revolution

Mohamed Malik (CC BY 2.0)

Mohamed Malik (CC BY 2.0)

Via The Guardian

It was the most thrilling bureaucratic document I’ve ever seen for just one reason: it was dated the 21st day of the month of Thermidor in the Year Six. Written in sepia ink on heavy paper, it recorded an ordinary land auction in France in what we would call the late summer of 1798. But the extraordinary date signaled that it was created when the French Revolution was still the overarching reality of everyday life and such fundamentals as the distribution of power and the nature of government had been reborn in astonishing ways. The new calendar that renamed 1792 as Year One had, after all, been created to start society all over again.

In that little junk shop on a quiet street in San Francisco, I held a relic from one of the great upheavals of the last millennium. It made me think of a remarkable statement the great feminist fantasy writer Ursula K Le Guin had made only a few weeks earlier.

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How to debunk false beliefs without having it backfire

Tambako The Jaguar (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Tambako The Jaguar (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Via VOX

There’s nothing worse than arguing with someone who simply refuses to listen to reason. You can throw all the facts at them you want, and they’ll simply dig in their heels deeper.

Over the past decade, psychologists have been studying why so many people do this. As it turns out, our brains have glitches that can make it difficult to remember that wrong facts are wrong. And trying to debunk misinformation can often backfire and entrench that misinformation stronger. The problem is even worse for emotionally charged political topics — like vaccines and global warming.

So how can you actually change someone’s mind? I spoke to Stephan Lewandowsky, a psychologist at the University of Bristol and co-author of The Debunking Handbook, to find out:

Susannah Locke: There’s evidence that when people stick with wrong facts, it isn’t just stubbornness — but actually some sort of brain glitch.

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