Tag Archives | Technology

Is the internet killing middle class jobs?

James Pethokoukis Via The Week:

The robopocalypse for workers may be inevitable. In this vision of the future, super-smart machines will best humans in pretty much every task. A few of us will own the machines, a few will work a bit — perhaps providing “Made by Man” artisanal goods — while the rest will live off a government-provided income. Silicon-based superintelligence and robots will dramatically alter labor markets — to name but one example, the most common job in most U.S. states probably will no longer be truck driver.

But what about right now? If you’re unemployed or working part-time instead of full-time, or haven’t seen a raise in years, should you blame technology?

Yes, says venture capitalist and former Intel executive Bill Davidow. In a provocative piece for Harvard Business Review, “The Internet Has Been a Colossal Economic Disappointment,” Davidow makes a strong claim: “For all its economic virtues, the internet has been long on job displacement and short on job creation.

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Guerrilla Radio: How some prison inmates hack, rewire, and retool their radios to create walkie-talkies

Take notes from this Marshall Project post: you’ll want to retool your radio too come the Apocalypse:

Prisoners face numerous restrictions when communicating with one another or the outside world. But where there is a rule, there is often a workaround. At Pelican Bay State Prison in Northern California, inmates have yelled to one another through drainpipes under their cells; inmates in Texas talk through cans connected with twine; and in facilities throughout the country, little paper notes — known as “kites” — are literally handed off. As technology has developed, so have the communication methods; cell phones and iPods are regularly smuggled to inmates by visitors and guards. And occasionally, the technology is already inside the prison. Some inmates have learned how to transform their radios into devices that allow them to talk to each other and even eavesdrop on guards.

Radionette kurer transi back.png

Once an inmate has purchased an analog radio from the prison commissary (they usually cost less than $30), he can open it up and pull apart a coil, which changes the range of frequency that the radio can access.

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Can a Molecular 3D Printer Change the Way We Make Everything?

Kyle Maxey via engineering.com

Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has become one of the wonder-techs of the new millennium. Granted, while the vast majority of 3D printers on the market are little more than souped-up trinkets, some machines are leveraging the technology’s additive assets to instigate real change.

Chemistry has always been a daunting subject. When confronted with working on the molecular level, extreme precision is required. For many researchers the process of working with small molecules requires such long-durations and precise equipment to synthesize that it prevents them from doing any fundamental research.

To stop this production bottleneck Martin Burke, a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, has been developing a “3D Printer” that can replicate what nature does when it builds small molecules. Key to Burke’s machine is an understanding that there is a small number of small molecules that nature uses to produce a large portion of life’s chemistry.

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How to Set Up a Clinton-Style Home Email Server

“The crazy thing is that the private configuration actually worked,” writes Mike Murphy at the Atlantic:

Responding to mounting questions, Hillary Clinton—the former U.S. secretary of state and a presumptive presidential candidate—said this week that she “opted for convenience” by using a personal email account instead of her official one.

Server stuff

Photo: Lee Bennett (CC)

 

But let’s be real: There’s absolutely nothing convenient about setting up a private email server, as Clinton says she did in her Chappaqua, New York, home. And security experts say her system may have had vulnerabilities that could have exposed correspondence to hackers and government snooping.

Setting up a server is no simple task. “It’s a pretty big job to maintain a server like that and make sure it’s properly configured,” says Peter Firstbrook, an Internet security researcher at Gartner. Firstbrook says such an endeavor is “highly unusual.” He has not heard of any companies whose executives had set up personal servers for work emails, let alone government officials.

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The Electric Mood-Control Acid Test

We recently ran a post about brain-altering devices like Zen Vibez and Thync. MIT Technology Review dives deep on the latter:

I’m working on a story that’s almost due. It’s going well. I’m almost finished. But then everything falls apart. I get an angry e-mail from a researcher who’s upset about another article. My stomach knots up. My heart pounds. I reply with a defensive e-mail and afterward can’t stop mentally rehashing my response. Taking deep breaths and a short walk don’t help. I can’t focus on finishing my story, and as the deadline approaches, that makes me more uptight and it gets even harder to write.

brain power

But then I apply electrodes to my head and neck, power up a small electronic device, and shock myself. Within a few minutes I calm down. I can focus on my story. I meet the deadline.

The device, which you’ll be able to buy later this year for a price that has yet to be disclosed, was developed by a team of neuroscientists and engineers at the startup Thync.

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Inside the Weird World of 3D Printed Body Parts

3D printed tissue construct in a Petri dish (right after printing). Photo courtesy of University of Iowa.

3D printed tissue construct in a Petri dish (right after printing). Photo courtesy of University of Iowa.

Via Andrew Leonard at Medium:

Laura Bosworth wants to 3D print breast nipples on demand. The CEO of the Texas startup TeVido Biodevices is betting on a future in which survivors of breast cancer who have undergone mastectomies will be able to order up new breasts printed from their own living cells.

“Everyone,” she says, “knows a woman who has had breast cancer.” Right now their options are limited. Reconstructed nipples using state-of-the-art plastic surgery techniques, she says, “tend to flatten and fade and don’t last very long.” A living nipple built from the patient’s own fat cells, and reconstructed to the precise specification of the original nipple, could go a long way to ameliorating the psychological trauma often associated with mastectomies.

Bosworth readily acknowledges that significant obstacles must be overcome before 3D printed breast parts become an affordable reality.

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Technology should be used to create social mobility – not to spy on citizens

Private eyes are watching you: the British government communications headquarters (GCHQ) is monitoring the communications of millions of people. Photograph: GCHQ / British Ministry of Defence/EPA

Private eyes are watching you: the British government communications headquarters (GCHQ) is monitoring the communications of millions of people. Photograph: GCHQ / British Ministry of Defence/EPA

Cory Doctorow via The Guardian:

Why spy? That’s the several-million pound question, in the wake of the Snowden revelations. Why would the US continue to wiretap its entire population, given that the only “terrorism” they caught with it was a single attempt to send a small amount of money to Al Shabab?

One obvious answer is: because they can. Spying is cheap, and cheaper every day. Many people have compared NSA/GCHQ mass spying to the surveillance programme of East Germany’s notorious Stasi, but the differences between theNSA and the Stasi are more interesting than the similarities.

The most important difference is size. The Stasi employed one snitch for every 50 or 60 people it watched. We can’t be sure of the size of the entire Five Eyes global surveillance workforce, but there are only about 1.4 million Americans with Top Secret clearance, and many of them don’t work at or for the NSA, which means that the number is smaller than that (the other Five Eyes states have much smaller workforces than the US).

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Wind Energy Was Largest Source Of New US Electricity In 2014

Joshua S. Hill Via CleanTechnica:

The American Wind Energy Association has commented on the US Department of Energy’s data released for 2014 this week, which showed that wind energy added “significantly more” electricity than any other resource across the year.

According to Department of Energy (DoE) Energy Information Administration (EIA) statistics, wind energy generated 4.4% of all electricity during 2014, maintaining its position as the country’s fifth largest electricity source.

Wind energy generated a total of 181,791 GWh of electricity in 2014, up 13,951 GWh over 2013 levels.

EIA-1

 

Continue reading. (And please mark this article as “interesting” over at CleanTechnica if you found it informative.)

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Scientists capture first ever image of light acting as a particle and a wave


Ryan Whitwam via ExtremeTech:

Despite being a well-established tenet of modern physics, the particle-wave duality of light can be a real mind-bender. This approach to understanding the universe was pioneered by scientists like Albert Einstein and Max Planck, eventually leading to quantum mechanics. Researchers have been trying to visualize light in both forms ever since, but haven’t had success until now. A team at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) claim they’ve devised an experiment to photograph light as both a particle and wave.

Einstein’s eureka moment in the study of light came when he described the photoelectric effect. When UV light hits a metal surface, it results in an emission of electrons. Einstein explained this phenomenon by proposing that light can act as a particle in addition to a wave. We now know these particles as photons, but that term wasn’t coined until later. Subsequent experiments have confirmed the dual property of light, but actually seeing both at once would be something.

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Is this life real?

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Hartwig HKD (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Via Mathew Francis at Aeon.co:

Our species is not going to last forever. One way or another, humanity will vanish from the Universe, but before it does, it might summon together sufficient computing power to emulate human experience, in all of its rich detail. Some philosophers and physicists have begun to wonder if we’re already there. Maybe we are in a computer simulation, and the reality we experience is just part of the program.

Modern computer technology is extremely sophisticated, and with the advent of quantum computing, it’s likely to become more so. With these more powerful machines, we’ll be able to perform large-scale simulations of more complex physical systems, including, possibly, complete living organisms, maybe even humans. But why stop there?

The idea isn’t as crazy as it sounds. A pair of philosophers recently argued that if we accept the eventual complexity of computer hardware, it’s quite probable we’re already part of an ‘ancestor simulation’, a virtual recreation of humanity’s past.

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