Tag Archives | Technology

Sales Of Plug-In Cars Exceed 600,000 Worldwide

2014-Chevrolet-Volt-003-medium-570x379

via CleanTechnica:

It hasn’t even been four full years since the first plug-in hybrid and electric cars went on sale across the globe, and in many places plug-in cars are still few and far between. Yet across the world, consumers are turning to plug-in cars in greater numbers, with the top ten countries now accounting for over 600,000 plug-in vehicle sales according to a tally by Hybrid Cars.

Most of these sales happened after 2010, when the Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volt (the two top-selling plug-in cars worldwide) went on sale, though there are a handful of EVs accounted for dating back to 2006. The numbers show that plug-in sales have increased at a staggering pace, with the total number of electrified vehicles jumping from 180,000 in December of 2013 to over 405,000 little more than a year later in January of 2014. Plug-in car sales have since climbed past 500,000 by the end of summer, and Hybrid Cars accounts for at least 603,932 plug-in vehicle sales at the end of last month.

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The Eye of the Luddite: Ruminations on Anti-Technological Themes in the Rocky Series

rocky-balboa-hd-4

There is a tendency among many in our culture to conflate the idea of “progress” with technological advance. The advent of the iPhone 6 is the next step “forward” in mankind’s (and gyno-kind’s, I suppose) evolution towards becoming an enlightened, intelligent species. The message has been drilled into us for the past 150 years or so by the priestly scientist caste, who have promised us absolution, atonement and the alleviation of all of life’s supposed ills, if only we pledge ourselves and our faith in the seemingly unending and supposedly unerring path of technological advance. War, famine, disease, boredom–as technology advanced, there was to be a corresponding decrease in the suffering and discomfort inherent in daily life.

Obviously, none of this has come to pass. Technology has advanced to the point that it’s almost superfluous to distinguish between it and magic, and yet people are still fucking miserable–perhaps in many more and varied ways than they had been in the past.… Read the rest

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‘Hidden brain signatures’ of consciousness in vegetative state patients discovered

Brain networks in two behaviorally similar vegetative patients (left and middle), but one of whom imagined playing tennis (middle panel), alongside a healthy adult (right panel) (credit: Srivas Chennu)

Brain networks in two behaviorally similar vegetative patients (left and middle), but one of whom imagined playing tennis (middle panel), alongside a healthy adult (right panel) (credit: Srivas Chennu)

via Kurzweil: Accelerating Intelligence:

Scientists in Cambridge, England have found hidden signatures in the brains of people in a vegetative state that point to networks that could support consciousness — even when a patient appears to be unconscious and unresponsive. The study could help doctors identify patients who are aware despite being unable to communicate.

Although unable to move and respond, some patients in a vegetative state are able to carry out tasks such as imagining playing a game of tennis, the scientists note. Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner, researchers have previously been able to record activity in the pre-motor cortex, the part of the brain that deals with movement, in apparently unconscious patients asked to imagine playing tennis.

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A Real Hoverboard

The New York Times discovers a couple of California garage tinkerers who have made a real hoverboard, as in Marty McFly’s ride in Back to the Future:

LOS GATOS, Calif. — A lot of things can hover. There are helicopters. There are hovercraft. But for the last three decades, a generation of engineers and movie fans have been waiting for something else: a hovering skateboard like the one in “Back to the Future Part II.”

The hoverboard is fiction, the vision of screenwriters who created the film about Marty McFly, a teenager who travels from 1985 to Oct. 21, 2015, and uses a floating skateboard to flee a gang of bullies.

The movie had other futuristic items, like flying cars and self-tying shoes, but none touched the imagination as much as the hoverboard. For the last 25 years, garage tinkerers, physics professors and top engineers at Google have been trying to make one.

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The Undying Stars – Was Ancient Man Connected Through Star Myth, Shamanism and Megaliths?

IMG_6010Via Midwest Real

Join Author, David W. Mathisen and I as we hack our way through the gnarled nether-regions of history, philosophy and a litany of other woo-drenched topics. 

Imagine the level of genius and insanity it must have taken to pitch the idea of of constructing the Great Pyramid of Giza– “Let’s take 2.3 million stones weighing up to 80 tons each that fit together seamlessly to create the world’s tallest structure. Also, let’s make sure it aligns to true north, mimics Orion’s belt, measures equinoctial precession and encodes roughly a shit ton of other astral and mathematical phenomena.”Best pitch ever, right?

Despite the fact that my pitch sounds totally bat shit bonkers, the Egyptians were far from the only ones who undertook such a herculean labor. There are dozens of ancient megalithic structures with countless astral alignments and striking similarities all over the world. Yet, if we take that observation a step further, positing the idea that many ancient cultures had sacred traditions built upon a common, interconnected, esoteric system that communicated transcendent truth via celestial allegory, myth and megaliths, we’re starting to get pretty deep into the hairy nethers of history– a place where mainstream academia dares not dwell.… Read the rest

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OpenBazaar: P2P Marketplace to Undermine our Corporate Overlords

Howard Pyle: The Buccaneer (1905)

Howard Pyle: The Buccaneer (1905)

Around the turn of the century, Amazon, eBay and other online marketplaces provided revolutionary new venues for small-business entrepreneurship, but they have since grown into heavy-handed corporate behemoths that treat sellers like share croppers while exerting an ever-expanding influence over government and the economy. In the future, online marketplaces will be publicly shared via distributed p2p networks. There will be no fees, no trade restrictions, no corporate overlords running the show. The concept is gaining traction; the technology is already here.

One promising effort in this direction is OpenBazaar. They hope to offer a full release in 2014, and are currently seeking beta testers:

OpenBazaar is an open source project to create a decentralized network for peer to peer commerce online—using Bitcoin—that has no fees and cannot be censored. Put simply, it’s the baby of eBay and BitTorrent.

Right now, online commerce means using centralized services. eBay, Amazon, and other big companies have restrictive policies and charge fees for listing and selling goods.… Read the rest

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MIT Study Says Robot Overlords Could Make for Happier Human Workers

Most of the human bosses I’ve had lead me to find this claim not just possible but probable.

Mat Smith writes at Engadget:

New research from MIT reckons that robots controlling human tasks in manufacturing is not only more efficient than flesh-and-blood middle-management, but preferred by people that do the work too. Automation in the manufacturing process has been around for decades, but the new study aimed to seek out the sweet spot where human workers were “both satisfied and productive.”

“We discovered that the answer is to actually give machines more autonomy, if it helps people to work together more fluently with robot teammates,” said project lead Matthew Gombolay. The study was composed of groups of two humans and one robot, working in three test conditions. One had all tasks allocated by a human, another where all tasks were allocated by the robot and the final scenario had one human allocating tasks to themselves, while the robot allocated tasks to the other meatsack.

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Are we heading for technological unemployment? An Argument

Altar of technology by zeitfaenger.at via Flickr.

Altar of technology by zeitfaenger.at via Flickr.

This piece was first published on Philosophical Disquisitions We’re all familiar with the headlines by now: “Robots are going to steal our jobs”, “Automation will lead to joblessness”, and “AI will replace human labour”. It seems like more and more people are concerned about the possible impact of advanced technology on employment patterns. Last month, Lawrence Summers worried about it in the Wall Street Journal but thought maybe the government could solve the problem. Soon after, Vivek Wadhwa worried about it in the Washington Post, arguing that there was nothing the government could do. Over on the New York TimesPaul Krugman has been worrying about it for years.

But is this really something we should worry about? To answer that, we need to distinguish two related questions:

The Factual Question: Will advances in technology actually lead to technological unemployment?

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