Category: Information (Page 1 of 5)

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

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

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.


Facebook: creating the matrix for the third world

Facebook’s 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

FDA Approves First 3-D Printed Drug

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a drug that is produced by a 3-D printer, the pill produced by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, treats seizures.

NPR reports:

“The drug is called Spritam and is designed to treat seizures in people suffering from epilepsy. It’s a new version of a seizure medication that’s been on the market for years.

“The new tablets are manufactured using 3-D printing, which creates objects by very precisely spewing out one layer of a substance on top of another. 3-D printing is being used to make all sorts of things these days.

“The FDA had previously approved medical devices made with 3-D printing. The company that makes Spritam says the 3-D-printed version of the drug allows it to dissolve more quickly, which makes it easier to swallow.”

Your DNA can be used in discriminatory ways

The ultimate concept of ‘person(al) information’ can be used to block your access to the internet. A programmer has come up with a way to block users from websites based on their DNA.

It basically worked as a log-in mechanism. The third-party program was designed to hook up to the company’s API and mine the 23andMe accounts of users who agreed to share their information, as they would agree to let apps connect to their Facebook or Twitter profiles. Websites using Genetic Access Control could scan that data for information about “sex, ancestry, disease susceptibility, and arbitrary characteristics” — and then restrict users’ access to the site based on this information.

Image: Flickr / skreck

Can books save us from what digital does to our brains?

Do you find yourself reading books less? Or atleast not being able to sustain the act of reading a book at length? The author of this article reasons that the hypertextual nature of our information consumption challenges readers to want to jump to “the next thing” – link, image, video. This can translate to an actual dopamine hit for the brain when new information arrives. Some tests report a drop in IQ when exposed to this multitasking process.

What’s the solution? Is there a solution?

Still, I am an optimist. Most nights last year, I got into bed with a book — paper or e — and started. Reading. Read. Ing. One word after the next. A sentence. Two sentences. Maybe three. And then … I needed just a little something else. Something to tide me over. Something to scratch that little itch at the back of my mind— just a quick look at email on my iPhone; to write, and erase, a response to a funny Tweet from William Gibson; to find, and follow, a link to a good, really good, article in the New Yorker, or, better, the New York Review of Books (which I might even read most of, if it is that good). Email again, just to be sure.

Is it utopian to believe we’re on the verge of an evolution beyond capitalism?

In the new computing ‘Age of Context’, where the information supplied by objects produces more value than the objects themselves. This ‘Internet of Things’ will produce something that a traditional capitalist market can’t quite measure adequately: the usefulness of information. This is because information is abundant (and growing everyday), the cost of replication/reproduction is zero for most digital information. If modern economics starts from a position of scarcity, what does it mean when the most prevalent force in today’s economy is abundant and increasingly social?

In the 1990s economists and technologists began to have the same thought at once: that this new role for information was creating a new, “third” kind of capitalism – as different from industrial capitalism as industrial capitalism was to the merchant and slave capitalism of the 17th and 18th centuries. But they have struggled to describe the dynamics of the new “cognitive” capitalism. And for a reason. Its dynamics are profoundly non-capitalist.

Image: Guardian – Joe Magee

Where citations come from

xkcd comic - citogenesis

xkcd comic – citogenesis

Some Facebook users have no idea they’re using the internet

Researchers find that a large majority of users in non-western countries misunderstand the concept that Facebook is on the internet, not IS the internet.

But the survey does provide replicable evidence of the behaviors described by Stork and Galpaya. Considering the substantial percentages—about 10% of Facebook users in our surveys—the data suggest at the very least that a few million of Facebook’s 1.4 billion users suffer from the same misconceptions. (Quartz commissioned limited surveys in just two countries; we encourage researchers and other journalists to conduct more large-scale studies.)
The effects of the misconception also are visible in the survey results. We asked respondents whether they follow links out of Facebook. In both countries, more than half of those who don’t know they’re using the internet say they “never” follow links out of Facebook, compared with a quarter or less of respondents who say they use both Facebook and the internet. If people stay on one service, it follows that content, advertisers, and associated services also will flow to that service, possibly to the exclusion of other venues.

Read more about the way Facebook is positioning itself in the developing world to BE the internet…


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