Homo Conexus: where bigdata meets human context

What does it take to make better decisions? Just more data? Are you smarter now with that prosthetic brain in your pocket? Moving beyond the AR/haptic/mobile interfaces of tomorrow, we will have deep learning systems that are “designed for interruption”. Will this help to augment human decision making or lead to an ultimately annoying digital assistant in our heads?

In his book Consilience, E. O. Wilson said: “We are drowning in information…the world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely.” Only it won’t be people doing that synthesis, it’ll be a hybrid of humans and machines. Because after all, the right information at the right time changes your life.

See full story on Data: Emerging Trends and Technologies – O’Reilly Media

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Can Blockchains change the world?

Don Tapscott was writing about the Digital Economy 20 years ago and now stands firm on the idea that blockchains could revolutionise the global economy. How? Like most examples of digital disruption, the concept of the blockchain decreases reliance on gatekeepers and moves financial services toward a more democratic peer to peer system.

If I’m going to send some money to somebody else, I have to go through an intermediary—a powerful bank, a credit-card company—or I need a government to authenticate who I am and who you are. What if we could do that peer to peer? What if there was a protocol—call it the trust protocol—that enabled us to do transactions, to do commerce, to exchange money, without a powerful third party? This would be amazing.

See full story on How blockchains could change the world | McKinsey & Company

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How Denmark Improves Patient Safety Through Big Data

Denmark provides alternative healthcare system based on compensation not litigation. Data collected from claims used to improve system not punish practitioners.

Denmark offers a radically different alternative, as do similar programs in other Scandinavian countries and New Zealand. To be sure, these countries have nationalized health care systems, unlike the public-private model in the U.S. But alternative responses to patient harm have been tried on a smaller scale. Virginia, for example, has a program designed to compensate for severe neurological childbirth injuries that is similar in some ways to the Danish system.

Common to all these programs is a commitment to provide information and compensation to patients regardless of whether negligence is involved. That lowers the bar of entry for patients and doesn’t pit doctors against them, enabling providers to be open about what happened.

“It’s not easy to discuss a mistake, but there has to be a very safe relationship between doctor and patient,” Hamberg said. “The most important thing in patient safety is to talk about it.”

Learn more about How Denmark Dumped Medical Malpractice and Improved Patient Safety

Hattip: Wendy

Image: Pixabay

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Take the pill if you want a bigger..longer…stronger..LIFE

Living longer is one of the ancient human endeavours. Generally in the modern era this has translated to “looking” younger for as long as possible with a combination of washes and creams grey goop. Now you might be able to trigger a longer lasting and healthier life through an inexpensive pill.

Currently the FDA is currently recruiting participants for a clinical trial for the drug Metformin. It is already an approved Diabetes (Type 2) drug, but has been tested and seen to decrease the effects of ageing in fruitflies and nematode worm. So researchers are interested in the metabolic and possible cellular effects in humans.

Interestingly, “ageing” has never been seen as a proper target for drug development but as co-morbidities increase with age, being able to slow down the ageing process at a metabolic level may affect the prevalence of those diseases such as cancer and dementia. More studies are obviously needed but this trial is a first.

The Singularity Hub has more on this.

 

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Doing the robot

Check out this tiny skull borrowing robot worm bringing precise, nerve dodging, surgical help in accessing tumors  growing around the nerves and bones of the inner-ear.

This TED talk presents a future for flying robots: Precision Farming.

For those of you with a bet on, the dominant life form out in the cosmos is probably superintelligent robots.

 

 

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First contact: what aliens will see and hear

In 1977 NASA launched the Voyager 1 & 2 spacecraft with a mission to explore the outer solar system. They were to gather information and imagery on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. After their mission was complete they were to keep travelling into interstellar space and end up orbiting the milky way galaxy in some form.

The Golden Record was produced to be attached to the side of the craft that would be an artefact of information about humanity. Our location, our species, our arts, our environment. All would be contained on a golden disc that may end up surviving even our current planetary civilisation. If you want to know what type of images, sounds and diagrams are being used as a kind of galactic advertising, Vox.com has a good summary here.

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Facebook: creating the matrix for the third world

Facebook’s internet.org project is all about scooping up future users before they get a taste for Google, according to this author. Those future users are predominantly in those parts of the world which suffer from poor internet access. So the ZuckerBorg will connect them – but only through the matrix of Facebook and those “services” deemed friendly to FB share price obviously.

It’s an interesting read and like one of the comments below, seems quite commonsense and obvious. Infact, it seems to be a kind of physical representation of Facebook and other social platforms ethos:that the “free” platform isn’t really free, value is extracted in other ways. The stink emanates from the humanitarian/not-for-profit marketing angle. Though this will change. Facebook’s strength comes from its ability to weather the tirade and morph into more consumer friendly (or atleast digestable) forms.

Facebook has about the same number of users as Google: about 1.4 billion. That’s one out of five people on earth. And the social network made US$12.4 billion off them last year – that’s about US$ 8.65 per person on their service. While Google made $66 billion off about the same number of people – almost $46 per head – a revenue efficiency more than 5 times that of Facebook. And that gap isn’t narrowing nearly fast enough.

Revenue growth to support Facebook’s stratospheric stock price at 60 times earnings is a big challenge, I’d imagine. Oh, and even at 5 times the revenue efficiency, Google’s Price-to-Earnings (P/E) ratio is less than half of Facebook’s – so the pressure on the Facebook stock price can only increase with time.

There’s only so much you can squeeze out of the first world – the current billion or so people – even though Facebook has cut virality, decreased organic reach and tried every which way of getting someone, anyone to pay more for visibility on its once-open social network. A more desperate measure was probably needed.

Image: Maurizio Pesce

Hattip: Mez

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Dungeons & Dragons: a cultural dice roll

I first started playing D&D in high school, introduced to it by my shiny new friends in Year 7. I don’t think it could have gone any other way really. I didnt know anybody when I started high school and I’ve never been sporty so geekdom felt more a natural fit. Every lunch time, all lunch time. Good times.

Now 30 something years later, still playing (just a different game), still good mates, even though I have been absent of late I know all will be forgiven, one is rarely ejected from the tribe. Paper and dice have given way to laptops, shared desktops and random algorithmic “rolling” but its still imaginative, creative and best of all fun.

So read on about Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons & Dragons and the cultural effect this game had on a generation and arguably later digital generations.

If you have ever played a first-person shooter video game like Call of Duty, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game like World of Warcraft, or a computer role-playing game like Final Fantasy; if you have ever logged on to an online virtual world like Second Life or experienced the wildly popular Game of Thrones television series and books, then you are already tangentially familiar with Dungeons & Dragons. Simply put, this seminal game made these later multibillion-dollar pop culture phenomena possible. D&D helped establish our dominant cultural moment: We live in an era when it is chic to be geek.

Image: fighting with the legends of yore

Hattip: Su

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Terms and Conditions: the graphic novel

Terms and Conditions are the voluminous text that you have to agree to in order to access software programs or initialise digital services. They are generally not something you want to read, which may be why artist R. Sikoryak is currently creating a graphic novel version of the itunes Terms and Conditions. You can access it for free here (start at bottom of feed). There are many different comic drawing styles on show.

Hattip: Open Culture

 

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Social media helping teens with the important stuff – dating

A new Pew Center research study titled “Teens, Technology, and Romantic Relationships” confirms that teens evolve any communication tool toward connecting with the opposite sex. I remember the days when the public phone booth allowed the best avenue for non-parental communication. The kids have it good these days.

One interesting comment from a high school girl:

I can be a little bit more bold over text, because you wouldn’t say certain things in person. You would … you just wouldn’t say certain things in, like, talking face to face with them because that might be kind of awkward. But over text, it’s like, OK. Cause they’re not really there.

Because they’re not really there. An interesting issue of the digital environment, the idea of identity. There could be questions of whether the person you are interacting with is real, is being ‘who they are’. This is why the larger social networks flourish, they can provide that legitimacy, creating authority data about you, what you like. Your ‘friends’ help in this regard by liking, or atleast interacting with your content. Digitally rounding you out.

Teens consider social media useful in that it allows a common way to show your support of the relationships of others. Was there ever an “analogue” parallel of this?

Image: PewInternet.org

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