Please see this article -- my comments on the Evri/Twine deal, as CEO of Twine. This provides more details about the history of Twine and what led to the acquisition.
Please see this article -- my comments on the Evri/Twine deal, as CEO of Twine. This provides more details about the history of Twine and what led to the acquisition.
Posted on March 23, 2010 at 05:12 PM in Artificial Intelligence, Business, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Groupware, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Knowledge Networking, Memes & Memetics, Microcontent, My Best Articles, Productivity, Radar Networks, Science, Search, Semantic Blogs and Wikis, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Software, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, The Semantic Graph, Twine, Venture Capital, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech | Permalink
In typical Web-industry style we're all focused minutely on the leading trend-of-the-year, the real-time Web. But in this obsession we have become a bit myopic. The real-time Web, or what some of us call "The Stream," is not an end in itself, it's a means to an end. So what will it enable, where is it headed, and what's it going to look like when we look back at this trend in 10 or 20 years?
In the next 10 years, The Stream is going to go through two big phases, focused on two problems, as it evolves:
The Stream is not the only big trend taking place right now. In fact, it's just a strand that is being braided together with several other trends, as part of a larger pattern. Here are some of the other strands I'm tracking:
If these are all strands in a larger pattern, then what is the megatrend they are all contributing to? I think ultimately it's collective intelligence -- not just of humans, but also our computing systems, working in concert.
I think that these trends are all combining, and going real-time. Effectively what we're seeing is the evolution of a global collective mind, a theme I keep coming back to again and again. This collective mind is not just comprised of humans, but also of software and computers and information, all interlinked into one unimaginably complex system: A system that senses the universe and itself, that thinks, feels, and does things, on a planetary scale. And as humanity spreads out around the solar system and eventually the galaxy, this system will spread as well, and at times splinter and reproduce.
But that's in the very distant future still. In the nearer term -- the next 100 years or so -- we're going to go through some enormous changes. As the world becomes increasingly networked and social the way collective thinking and decision making take place is going to be radically restructured.
Existing and established social, political and economic structures are going to either evolve or be overturned and replaced. Everything from the way news and entertainment are created and consumed, to how companies, cities and governments are managed will change radically. Top-down beaurocratic control systems are simply not going to be able to keep up or function effectively in this new world of distributed, omnidirectional collective intelligence.
As humanity and our Web of information and computatoins begins to function as a single organism, we will evolve literally, into a new species: Whatever is after the homo sapien. The environment we will live in will be a constantly changing sea of collective thought in which nothing and nobody will be isolated. We will be more interdependent than ever before. Interdependence leads to symbiosis, and eventually to the loss of generality and increasing specialization. As each of us is able to draw on the collective mind, the global brain, there may be less pressure on us to do things on our own that used to be solitary. What changes to our bodies, minds and organizations may result from these selective evolutionary pressures? I think we'll see several, over multi-thousand year timescales, or perhaps faster if we start to genetically engineer ourselves:
Posted on October 27, 2009 at 08:08 PM in Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Government, Group Minds, Memes & Memetics, Mobile Computing, My Best Articles, Politics, Science, Search, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Software, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, The Semantic Graph, Transhumans, Web 3.0, Web/Tech, Wild Speculation | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
If you are interested in collective intelligence, consciousness, the global brain and the evolution of artificial intelligence and superhuman intelligence, you may want to see my talk at the 2008 Singularity Summit. The videos from the Summit have just come online.
(Many thanks to Hrafn Thorisson who worked with me as my research assistant for this talk).
Posted on February 13, 2009 at 11:32 PM in Biology, Cognitive Science, Collective Intelligence, Conferences and Events, Consciousness, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Groupware, My Proposals, Philosophy, Physics, Science, Software, Systems Theory, The Future, The Metaweb, Transhumans, Virtual Reality, Web 3.0, Web/Tech, Wild Speculation | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
I've posted a link to a video of my best talk -- given at the GRID '08 Conference in Stockholm this summer. It's about the growth of collective intelligence and the Semantic Web, and the future and role the media. Read more and get the video here. Enjoy!
Posted on October 02, 2008 at 11:56 AM in Artificial Intelligence, Biology, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Knowledge Networking, Philosophy, Productivity, Science, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Software, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, The Semantic Graph, Transhumans, Virtual Reality, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Video from my panel at DEMO Fall '08 on the Future of the Web is now available.
I moderated the panel, and our panelists were:
Howard Bloom, Author, The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century
Peter Norvig, Director of Research, Google Inc.
Jon Udell, Evangelist, Microsoft Corporation
Prabhakar Raghavan, PhD, Head of Research and Search Strategy, Yahoo! Inc.
The panel was excellent, with many DEMO attendees saying it was the best panel they had ever seen at DEMO.
Many new and revealing insights were provided by our excellent panelists. I was particularly interested in the different ways that Google and Yahoo describe what they are working on. They covered lots of new and interesting information about their thinking. Howard Bloom added fascinating comments about the big picture and John Udell helped to speak about Microsoft's longer-term views as well.
Posted on September 12, 2008 at 12:29 PM in Artificial Intelligence, Business, Collective Intelligence, Conferences and Events, Global Brain and Global Mind, Interesting People, My Best Articles, Science, Search, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Software, Technology, The Future, Twine, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech, Weblogs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)
Tim Berners-Lee is giving a talk, and then we're on a panel, live, today, discussing the Semantic Web, Net Neturality and Web Science. Watch the live Webcast and submit your questions to the panel interactively. Details and times are here.
I have been thinking about the situation in the Middle East and also the rise of oil prices, peak oil, and the problem of a world economy based on energy scarcity rather than abundance. There is, I believe, a way to solve the problems in the Middle East, and the energy problems facing the world, at the same time. But it requires thinking "outside the box."
Middle Eastern nations must take the lead in freeing the world from dependence on their oil. This is not only their best strategy for the future of their nations and their people, but also it is what will ultimately be best for the region and the whole world.
It is inevitable that someone is going to invent a new technology that frees the world from dependence on fossil fuels. When that happens all oil empires will suddenly collapse. Far-sighted, visionary leaders in oil-producing nations must ensure that their nations are in position to lead the coming non-fossil-fuel energy revolution. This is the wisdom of "cannibalize yourself before someone else does."
Middle Eastern nations should invest more heavily than any other nations in inventing and supplying new alternative energy technologies. For example: hydrogen, solar, biofuels, zero point energy, magnetic power, and the many new emerging alternatives to fossil fuels. This is a huge opportunity for the Middle East not only for economic reasons, but also because it may just be the key to bringing about long-term sustainable peace in the region.
There is a finite supply of oil in the Middle East -- the game will and must eventually end. Are Middle Eastern nations thinking far enough ahead about this or not? There is a tremendous opportunity for them if they can take the initiative on this front and there is an equally tremendous risk if they do not. If they do not have a major stake in whatever comes after fossil fuels, they will be left with nothing when whatever is next inevitably happens (which might be very soon).
Any Middle Eastern leader who is not thinking very seriously about this issue right now is selling their people short. I sincerely advise them to make this a major focus going forward. Not only will this help them to improve quality of life for their people now and in the future, but it is the best way to help bring about world peace. The Middle East has the potential to lead a huge and lucrative global energy Renaissance. All it takes is vision and courage to push the frontier and to think outside of the box.
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit, and speak at, the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI), located in Galway, Ireland. My hosts were Stefan Decker, the director of the lab, and John Breslin who is heading the SIOC project.
DERI has become the world's premier research institute for the Semantic Web. Everyone working in the field should know about them, and if you can, you should visit the lab to see what's happening there.
Part of the National University of Ireland, Galway. With over 100 researchers focused solely on the Semantic Web, and very significant financial backing, DERI has, to my knowledge, the highest concentration of Semantic Web expertise on the planet today. Needless to say, I was very impressed with what I saw there. Here is a brief synopsis of some of the projects that I was introduced to:
In summary, my visit to DERI was really eye-opening and impressive. I recommend that major organizations that want to really see the potential of the Semantic Web, and get involved on a research and development level, should consider a relationship with DERI -- they are clearly the leader in the space.
Posted on March 26, 2008 at 09:27 AM in Artificial Intelligence, Collaboration Tools, Knowledge Management, Productivity, Radar Networks, Science, Search, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Software, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, The Semantic Graph, Web 3.0, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
I've been thinking lately about whether or not it is possible to formulate a scale of universal cognitive capabilities, such that any intelligent system -- whether naturally occurring or synthetic -- can be classified according to its cognitive capacity. Such a system would provide us with a normalized scientific basis by which to quantify and compare the relative cognitive capabilities of artificially intelligent systems, various species of intelligent life on Earth, and perhaps even intelligent lifeforms encountered on other planets.
One approach to such evaluation is to use a standardized test, such as an IQ test. However, this test is far too primitive and biased towards human intelligence. A dolphin would do poorly on our standardized IQ test, but that doesn't mean much, because the test itself is geared towards humans. What is needed is a way to evaluate and compare intelligence across different species -- one that is much more granular and basic.
What we need is a system that focuses on basic building blocks of intelligence, starting by measuring the presence or ability to work with fundamental cognitive constructs (such as the notion of object constancy, quantities, basic arithmetic constructs, self-constructs, etc.) and moving up towards higher-level abstractions and procedural capabilities (self-awareness, time, space, spatial and temporal reasoning, metaphors, sets, language, induction, logical reasoning, etc.).
What I am asking is whether we can develop a more "universal" way to rate and compare intelligences? Such a system would provide a way to formally evaluate and rate any kind of intelligent system -- whether insect, animal, human, software, or alien -- in a normalized manner.
Beyond the inherent utility of having such a rating scale, there is an additional benefit to trying to formulate this system: It will lead us to really question and explore the nature of cognition itself. I believe we are moving into an age of intelligence -- an age where humanity will explore the brain and the mind (the true "final frontier"). In order to explore this frontier, we need a map -- and the rating scale I am calling for would provide us with one, for it maps the range of possible capabilities that intelligent systems are capable of.
I'm not as concerned with measuring the degree to which any system is more or less capable of some particular cognitive capability within the space of possible capabilities we map (such as how fast it can do algebra for example, or how well it can recall memories, etc.) -- but that is a useful second step. The first step, however, is to simply provide a comprehensive map of all the possible fundamental cognitive behaviors there are -- and to make this map as minimal and elegant as we can. Ideally we should be seeking the simplest set of cognitive building blocks from which all cognitive behavior, and therefore all minds, are comprised.
So the question is: Are there in fact "cognitive universals" or universal cognitive capabilities that we can generalize across all possible intelligent systems? This is a fascinating question -- although we are human, can we not only imagine, but even prove, that there is a set of basic universal cognitive capabilities that applies everywhere in the universe, or even in other possible universes? This is an exploration that leads into the region where science, pure math, philosophy, and perhaps even spirituality all converge. Ultimately, this map must cover the full range of cognitive capabilities from the most mundane, to what might be (from our perspective) paranormal, or even in the realm of science fiction. Ordinary cognition as well as forms of altered or unhealthy cognition, as well as highly advanced or even what might be said to be enlightened cognition, all have to fit into this model.
Can we develop a system that would apply not just to any form of intelligence on Earth, but even to far-flung intelligent organisms that might exist on other worlds, and that perhaps might exist in dramatically different environments than humans? And how might we develop and test this model?
I would propose that such a system could be developed and tuned by testing it across the range of forms of intelligent life we find on Earth -- including social insects (termite colonies, bee hives, etc.), a wide range of other animal species (dogs, birds, chimpanzees, dolphins, whales, etc.), human individuals, and human social organizations (teams, communities, enterprises). Since there are very few examples of artificial intelligence today it would be hard to find suitable systems to test it on, but perhaps there may be a few candidates in the next decade. We should also attempt to imagine forms of intelligence on other planets that might have extremely different sensory capabilities, totally different bodies, and perhaps that exist on very different timescales or spatial scales as well -- what would such exotic, alien intelligences be like, and can our model encompass the basic building blocks of their cognition as well?
It will take decades to develop and tune a system such as this, and as we learn more about the brain and the mind, we will continue to add subtlety to the model. But when humanity finally establishes open dialog with an extraterrestrial civilization, perhaps via SETI or some other means of more direct contact, we will reap important rewards. A system such as what I am proposing will provide us with a valuable map for understanding alien cognition, and that may prove to be the key to enabling humanity to engage in successful interactions and relations with alien civilizations as we may inevitably encounter as humanity spreads throughout the galaxy. While some skeptics may claim that we will never encounter intelligent life on other planets, the odds would indicate otherwise. It may take a long time, but eventually it is inevitable that we will cross paths -- if they exist at all. Not to be prepared would be irresponsible.
This is a really great invention -- a hand held water bottle that can purify a year's worth of water. It removes not only parasites and bacteria, but also viruses. It was just announced recently at a defense industry tradeshow and was a big hit among military commanders who need a better way to get water to their troops. Beyond that it could be a lifesaver in disaster areas and in developing countries where finding clean water is a daily struggle.
An interesting new patent pending design for a photon thruster appears to be the real deal. Check out the article and who is behind it. (A fellow SRI alumnus!). Getting to Mars in a week means getting to the moon, as well as other nearby planets would be quite fast as well. This could be quite revolutionary.
TUSTIN, Calif., Sept. 7, 2007 -- An amplified photon thruster that could potentially shorten the trip to Mars from six months to a week has reportedly attracted the attention of aerospace agencies and contractors.
Young Bae, founder of the Bae Institute in Tustin, Calif., first demonstrated his photonic laser thruster (PLT), which he built with off-the-shelf components, in December.
I've been poking around in the DBpedia, and I'm amazed at the progress. It is definitely one of the coolest (launched) example of the Semantic Web I've seen. It's going to be a truly useful resource to everyone. If you haven't heard of it yet, check it out!
Russian scientists in the Khibinsky Mountains in the Arctic Circle have made an important scientific discovery. They've found a new mineral which absorbs radiation. It does not yet have an official name and is known only as number 27-4. It can absorb radioactivity from liquid nuclear waste.
Read the rest here.
Inventor, John Kanzius, has figured out a way to burn salt water. This could provide a clean, naturally available alternative fuel source. Salt water is one of the most abundant natural resources on our planet. Here's a video.
A very cool experiment in virtual reality has shown it is possible to trick the mind into identifying with a virtual body:
Through these goggles, the volunteers could see a camera view of their own back - a three-dimensional "virtual own body" that appeared to be standing in front of them.
When the researchers stroked the back of the volunteer with a pen, the volunteer could see their virtual back being stroked either simultaneously or with a time lag.
The volunteers reported that the sensation seemed to be caused by the pen on their virtual back, rather than their real back, making them feel as if the virtual body was their own rather than a hologram.
Even when the camera was switched to film the back of a mannequin being stroked rather than their own back, the volunteers still reported feeling as if the virtual mannequin body was their own.
And when the researchers switched off the goggles, guided the volunteers back a few paces, and then asked them to walk back to where they had been standing, the volunteers overshot the target, returning nearer to the position of their "virtual self".
This has implications for next-generation video games and virtual reality. It also has interesting implications for consciousness studies in general.
Whenever a scientist says something like, don't worry our new experiment could never get out of the lab, or don't worry the miniature black hole we are going to generate couldn't possibly swallow up the entire planet, I tend to get a little worried. The problem is that just about every time a scientist has said something is patently absurd, totally impossible or could never ever happen, it usually turns out that in fact it isn't as impossible as they thought. Now here's a new article about scientists creating new artificial lifeforms, based on new genetic building blocks -- and once again there's one of those statements. I'm guessing that this means that in about 10 years some synthetic life form is going to be found to have done the impossible and escaped from the lab -- perhaps into our food supply, or maybe into our environment. Don't get me wrong -- I'm in favor of this kind of research into new frontiers. I just don't think anyone can guarantee it won't escape from the lab.
I just heard about a very interesting new discovery in neuroscience:. The basic gist is that it appears that axons process information. Until now it has been thought that only the cell body of neurons was the part that processed information. Our present understanding of the brain, and also of psychopharmacology, is based completely on the dendrites and main body of the neuron. If it turns out that axons -- the "wires" that connect neurons -- are actually major contributors to how the brain computes, then it may point to both a new understanding of cognition, as well as a new frontier in treating mental and neurological disorders. (Thanks to Bram for letting me know).
Researchers at the International Space University (ISU), of which I am an alumnus, are proposing an interesting initiative to build an ark on the moon to preserve human civilization and biodiversity, and the Internet, in the event of a catastrophe on earth, such as a comet impact, nuclear war, etc. This project is similar to what I proposed in my Genesis Project posting in 2003.
Humans are just beginning to send trinkets of technology and culture into space. NASA's recently launched Phoenix Mars Lander, for example, carries a mini-disc inscribed with stories, art, and music about Mars.
The Phoenix lander is a "precursor mission" in a decades-long project to transplant the essentials of humanity onto the moon and eventually Mars. (See a photo gallery about the Phoenix mission.)
The International Space University team is now on a more ambitious mission: to start building a "lunar biological and historical archive," initially through robotic landings on the moon.
Laying the foundation for "rebuilding the terrestrial Internet, plus an Earth-moon extension of it, should be a priority," Burke said.
A new finding has discovered that the human genome may be highly networked. That is, genes do not operate in isolation, but rather they are networked together in a far more complex ecosystem than previously thought. It may be impossible to separate one gene from another in fact. This throws into question not only our understanding of genetics and the human genome, but also the whole genomics industry, which relies heavily on the idea that genes and drugs based on them can be patented:
The principle that gave rise to the biotech industry promised benefits that were equally compelling. Known as the Central Dogma of molecular biology, it stated that each gene in living organisms, from humans to bacteria, carries the information needed to construct one protein.
The scientists who invented recombinant DNA in 1973 built their innovation on this mechanistic, "one gene, one protein" principle.
Because donor genes could be associated with specific functions, with discrete properties and clear boundaries, scientists then believed that a gene from any organism could fit neatly and predictably into a larger design - one that products and companies could be built around, and that could be protected by intellectual-property laws.
This presumption, now disputed, is what one molecular biologist calls "the industrial gene."
"The industrial gene is one that can be defined, owned, tracked, proven acceptably safe, proven to have uniform effect, sold and recalled," said Jack Heinemann, a professor of molecular biology in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and director of its Center for Integrated Research in Biosafety.
In the United States, the Patent and Trademark Office allows genes to be patented on the basis of this uniform effect or function. In fact, it defines a gene in these terms, as an ordered sequence of DNA "that encodes a specific functional product."
In 2005, a study showed that more than 4,000 human genes had already been patented in the United States alone. And this is but a small fraction of the total number of patented plant, animal and microbial genes.
In the context of the consortium's findings, this definition now raises some fundamental questions about the defensibility of those patents.
If genes are only one component of how a genome functions, for example, will infringement claims be subject to dispute when another crucial component of the network is claimed by someone else?
Might owners of gene patents also find themselves liable for unintended collateral damage caused by the network effects of the genes they own?
And, just as important, will these not-yet-understood components of gene function tarnish the appeal of the market for biotech investors, who prefer their intellectual property claims to be unambiguous and indisputable?
While no one has yet challenged the legal basis for gene patents, the biotech industry itself has long since acknowledged the science behind the question.
"The genome is enormously complex, and the only thing we can say about it with certainty is how much more we have left to learn," wrote Barbara Caulfield, executive vice president and general counsel at the biotech pioneer Affymetrix, in a 2002 article on Law.com called "Why We Hate Gene Patents."
"We're learning that many diseases are caused not by the action of single genes, but by the interplay among multiple genes," Caulfield said. She noted that just before she wrote her article, "scientists announced that they had decoded the genetic structures of one of the most virulent forms of malaria and that it may involve interactions among as many as 500 genes."
Even more important than patent laws are safety issues raised by the consortium's findings. Evidence of a networked genome shatters the scientific basis for virtually every official risk assessment of today's commercial biotech products, from genetically engineered crops to pharmaceuticals.
Recent research has found a way to reverse the Casimir force, which causes objects to stick together at nanoscales. This enables nanoscale levitation -- among other things it could dramatically reduce friction in nanodevices. It could also enable new kinds of nanodevices in which for example rotating parts are levitated and held in place using the reverse Casimir force rather than by nanoscale axles or housings. For example nanowheels on a nanobot could perhaps be held in place and could turn without an axle. This could simplify the geometry of nanodevices, reducing the cost of manufacturing of more complex devices while also reducing the number of parts that could break. In addition, reversing the Casimir force could eliminate the main cause of friction (called "stiction") in nandevices -- it causes parts to stick together such that they can't even move. The solution to this problem has traditionally been to test and discard a percentage of defective nanodevices after production. Eliminating stiction by reversing the Casimir force could perhaps reduce these costs and make the process of nanomanufacturing more efficient.
St Andrews scientists have discovered a new way of levitating tiny objects - paving the way for future applications in nanotechnology.
Theoretical physicists at the University of St Andrews have created `incredible levitation effects' by engineering the force of nature which normally causes objects to stick together by quantum force. By reversing this phenomenon, known as `Casimir force', the scientists hope to solve the problem of tiny objects sticking together in existing novel nanomachines.
Professor Ulf Leonhardt and Dr Thomas Philbin of the University's School of Physics & Astronomy believe that they can engineer the Casimir force of quantum physics to cause an object to repel rather than attract another in a vacuum.
Casimir force (discovered in 1948 and first measured in 1997) can be demonstrated in a gecko's ability to stick to a surface with just one toe. However, it can cause practical problems in nanotechnology, and ways of preventing tiny objects from sticking to each other is the source of much interest.
Steorn, the Irish company that claims to have invented a mechanical device that generates unlimited free energy with no fuel, is scheduled to demonstrate their device publicly for the first time in London tomorrow. A panel of 22 independent world experts has been recruited to study the device. It should be an interesting demo!
Just in time for the 4th of July, here is a comprehensive report on sunscreens which may be potentially unsafe to use. Yes, it turns out there are several new ingredients now being used in sunscreens which are not FDA approved and may cause unknown effects on humans. Other sunscreen ingredients paradoxically break down in the sun after even a few minutes and offer much less UVA protection than advertised. The article contains lists of sunscreen products by health hazard level and effectiveness.
Suspicions of a link between Aspartame (the commonly used artificial sweetener) and various forms of cancer have received another boost from a new Italian study. The study found that even at relatively low levels of consumption, rats exposed to Aspartame had a significantly increased risk of several types of cancer. The implications of this are important for everyone, but especially children, because their lifetime consumption of Aspartame is expected to be much higher than those who started consuming it as adults. More details here.
The Business 2.0 Article on Radar Networks and the Semantic Web just came online. It's a huge article. In many ways it's one of the best popular articles written about the Semantic Web in the mainstream press. It also goes into a lot of detail about what Radar Networks is working on.
One point of clarification, just in case anyone is wondering...
Web 3.0 is not just about machines -- it's actually all about humans -- it leverages social networks, folksonomies, communities and social filtering AS WELL AS the Semantic Web, data mining, and artificial intelligence. The combination of the two is more powerful than either one on it's own. Web 3.0 is Web 2.0 + 1. It's NOT Web 2.0 - people. The "+ 1" is the addition of software and metadata that help people and other applications organize and make better sense of the Web. That new layer of semantics -- often called "The Semantic Web" -- will add to and build on the existing value provided by social networks, folksonomies, and collaborative filtering that are already on the Web.
So at least here at Radar Networks, we are focusing much of our effort on facilitating people to help them help themselves, and to help each other, make sense of the Web. We leverage the amazing intelligence of the human brain, and we augment that using the Semantic Web, data mining, and artificial intelligence. We really believe that the next generation of collective intelligence is about creating systems of experts not expert systems.
Posted on July 03, 2007 at 07:28 AM in Artificial Intelligence, Business, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, Philosophy, Productivity, Radar Networks, Science, Search, Semantic Blogs and Wikis, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Software, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Venture Capital, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
This just in. Lieutenant Walter Haut was the public relations officer at the Roswell Air Force base in 1947 when aliens or a weather balloon allegedly crash landed on a nearby ranch.
Lieutenant Walter Haut was the public relations officer at the base in 1947, and was the man who issued the original and subsequent press releases after the crash on the orders of the base commander, Colonel William Blanchard.
Haut died last year, but left a sworn affidavit to be opened only after his death.
Last week, the text was released and asserts that the weather balloon claim was a cover story, and that the real object had been recovered by the military and stored in a hangar. He described seeing not just the craft, but alien bodies.
Another interesting article on the move towards wireless power, or what some are calling "WiTricity." I've written about this previously. The team at MIT is making some good headway. Check out the article for a diagram of how their wireless power beaming system works. It can power any device within about 9 feet.
Nikola Tesla was working on wireless power beaming in the early 1900's, but since that time nobody has really succeeded in replicating his work or taking it further. Wireless power is an important and necessary step in technological evolution that simply must happen. My guess is that it will be a commercial mainstream technology within 20 years, if not sooner.
There are thousands of promising drugs for treating diseases that are simply not getting studied or brought to market because they are derived from natural or common substances that can't be patented. The dirty little secret of the pharma business is that even a miracle cure for cancer won't be invested in if it can't be defended as a proprietary product.
So here's an idea for the ultra-rich (if you are reading this). If you really want to help the world, start a foundation that funds "open-source medicine" -- the research, development, trials and distribution of non-patentable (or at least non-patented...) drugs. This includes not only herbal and traditional remedies, but also other remedies derived from common substances that just cannot be patented. And in addition it includes potentially patentable cures, which are found and then deliberately released as open-source so that nobody can patent them.
Open-source development has made a huge difference for software, so why not pharma and medicine? Why should all drug development be commercial?
Your shiny new foundation would bring together the greatest minds to collaboratively cure diseases for the betterment of mankind. Now that would be a great legacy!
New cancer treatment hailed as a breakthrough, but since it's based on a common, non-patented drug, it may be hard to find money for clinical trails:
A simple molecule, used for decades to treat children with rare metabolic diseases, commits "immortal" cancer cells to a natural death and could soon be used to treat many forms of cancer, according to a new study.
University of Alberta researchers were excited to discover that dichloroacetate (DCA) causes regression in several cancers, including lung, breast and brain tumours.
DCA, a non-toxic compound comprised of "a couple of oxygens, a couple of chlorides and a couple of carbons," appears to repair the damage that cancer cells cause to mitochondria -- the energy- producing units in cells.
Mitochondria regulate cell death and because cancer cells suppress their mitochondria, they achieve "immortality," Dr. Michelakis said. This appears to offer cancer cells a significant advantage in growth compared to normal cells as well as protection from many standard chemotherapies, he said.
DCA "puts life into the mitochondria," making cancer cells more susceptible to apoptosis -- a natural cell suicide mechanism that enables a person to control cell numbers and kill off cells that threaten his or her survival, he said.
DCA, being so small, is easily absorbed into the body, and after oral intake, it can reach areas in the body that other drugs cannot -- making it possible to treat brain cancers.
It could one day be used in conjunction with traditional chemotherapies, Dr. Michelakis said.
"The DCA will enable the cell death mechanisms and then chemotherapy would have a much easier job; you could use lower doses and [the chemotherapy would be] less toxic," he said.
DCA affects cancer cells without affecting normal ones, he added.
Because the inexpensive drug has been used on both healthy and ill patients for 30 years, it can be immediately tested on people suffering from cancer, Dr. Michelakis said.
But because DCA is not patented and is not owned by a pharmaceutical company, it will be a challenge to find funding to begin clinical trials, he said.
I've been thinking since 1994 about how to get past a fundamental barrier to human social progress, which I call "The Collective IQ Barrier." Most recently I have been approaching this challenge in the products we are developing at my stealth venture, Radar Networks.
In a nutshell, here is how I define this barrier:
The Collective IQ Barrier: The potential collective intelligence of a human group is exponentially proportional to group size, however in practice the actual collective intelligence that is achieved by a group is inversely proportional to group size. There is a huge delta between potential collective intelligence and actual collective intelligence in practice. In other words, when it comes to collective intelligence, the whole has the potential to be smarter than the sum of its parts, but in practice it is usually dumber.
Why does this barrier exist? Why are groups generally so bad at tapping the full potential of their collective intelligence? Why is it that smaller groups are so much better than large groups at innovation, decision-making, learning, problem solving, implementing solutions, and harnessing collective knowledge and intelligence?
I think the problem is technological, not social, at its core. In this article I will discuss the problem in more depth and then I will discuss why I think the Semantic Web may be the critical enabling technology for breaking through the Collective IQ Barrier.
Posted on March 03, 2007 at 03:46 PM in Artificial Intelligence, Business, Cognitive Science, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Group Minds, Groupware, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, My Best Articles, Philosophy, Productivity, Radar Networks, Science, Search, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Software, Technology, The Future, Web 2.0, Web 3.0, Web/Tech, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Japanese scientists have developed a technique that can encode 100-bit messages into the DNA of common bacteria. The bacteria replicate and pass the message down from generation to generation for at least thousands of years. Because there are millions or more copies of the message it can survive gradual degradation or mutuations (so they claim). Perhaps by taking a sample of the message across a large number of descendant bacteriums any errors or mutations can be detected and corrected. The message that was encoded was ""e=mc2 1905".
What's interesting of course is that since this is possible it begs the question of whether there are already messages encoded into the DNA of various living things on Earth? We might want to look at E Coli, or other common organisms, or perhaps human, dolphin, and whale DNA. We might also want to look at birds and lizards since they come down more directly from dinosaurs. Who knows -- maybe a long long time ago someone left us messages there, or their signature at least.
There are two places that I think it is most likely that we will first receive messages from aliens, if we ever do:
Thanks to Bram for pointing me to this article about how new research indicates that communication in the brain is quite different than we thought. Essentially neurons may release neurotransmitters all along axons, not just within synapses. This may enable new forms of global communication or state changes within the brain, beyond the "circuit model" of neuronal signaling that has been the received view for the last 100 years. It also may open up a wide range of new drugs and discoveries in brain science.
Nice article in Scientific American about Gordon Bell's work at Microsoft Research on the MyLifeBits project. MyLifeBits provides one perspective on the not-too-far-off future in which all our information, and even some of our memories and experiences, are recorded and made available to us (and possibly to others) for posterity. This is a good application of the Semantic Web -- additional semantics within the dataset would provide many more dimensions to visualize, explore and search within, which would help to make the content more accessible and grokkable.
Josh sent me this link. It's a video of a new technology for doing laser graffitti on the sides of buildings at night. Josh and I have been discussing how to do this for years. You could also project onto clouds. And of course with a computer to control the image you could make some very nice looking pictures, and ads...
Google's Larry Page recently gave a talk to the AAAS about how Google is looking towards a future in which they hope to implement AI on a massive scale. Larry's idea is that intelligence is a function of massive computation, not of "fancy whiteboard algorithms." In other words, in his conception the brain doesn't do anything very sophisticated, it just does a lot of massively parallel number crunching. Each processor and its program is relatively "dumb" but from the combined power of all of them working together "intelligent" behaviors emerge.
Larry's view is, in my opinion, an oversimplification that will not lead to actual AI. It's certainly correct that some activities that we call "intelligent" can be reduced to massively parallel simple array operations. Neural networks have shown that this is possible -- they excel at low level tasks like pattern learning and pattern recognition for example. But neural networks have not proved capable of higher level cognitive tasks like mathematical logic, planning, or reasoning. Neural nets are theoretically computationally equivalent to Turing Machines, but nobody (to my knowledge) has ever succeeded in building a neural net that can in practice even do what a typical PC can do today -- which is still a long way short of true AI!
Somehow our brains are capable of basic computation, pattern detection and learning, simple reasoning, and advanced cognitive processes like innovation and creativity, and more. I don't think that this richness is reducible to massively parallel supercomputing, or even a vast neural net architecture. The software -- the higher level cognitive algorithms and heuristics that the brain "runs" -- also matter. Some of these may be hard-coded into the brain itself, while others may evolve by trial-and-error, or be programmed or taught to it socially through the process of education (which takes many years at the least).
Larry's view is attractive but decades of neuroscience and cognitive science have shown conclusively that the brain is not nearly as simple as we would like it to be. In fact the human brain is far more sophisticated than any computer we know of today, even though we can think of it in simple terms. It's a highly sophisticated system comprised of simple parts -- and actually, the jury is still out on exactly how simple the parts really are -- much of the computation in the brain may be sub-neuronal, meaning that the brain may actually a much much more complex system than we think.
Perhaps the Web as a whole is the closest analogue we have today for the brain -- with millions of nodes and connections. But today the Web is still quite a bit smaller and simpler than a human brain. The brain is also highly decentralized and it is doubtful than any centralized service could truly match its capabilities. We're not talking about a few hundred thousand linux boxes -- we're talking about hundreds of billions of parallel distributed computing elements to model all the neurons in a brain, and this number gets into the trillions if we want to model all the connections. The Web is not this big, and neither is Google.
Posted on February 20, 2007 at 08:26 AM in Artificial Intelligence, Biology, Cognitive Science, Collective Intelligence, Global Brain and Global Mind, Intelligence Technology, Memes & Memetics, Philosophy, Physics, Science, Search, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Software, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, Web 3.0, Web/Tech, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
D-Wave, a company making quantum computers, claims the first quantum computer will be unveiled next week. If this really happens it could be big. Quantum computing can theoretically enable a massive increase in computing power. The question is what will it cost? If this technology is viable it also ups the ante in the encryption field -- because quantum computers can potentially crack codes that are today effectively beyond the limits of our present computing power. This could bring about a new market for quantum crytography, such as that provided by MagiQ, which is invulnerable to being cracked by quantum computers.
Check out this very impressive user-interface prototype for a desktop that works more like a real desk -- a messy desk in fact. Very delightful design work that makes want to use it now!
Some very interesting research out of University of Rochester. Researchers there have found a way to record and later retrieve an image using only a single photon. This is cool enough -- but wait, there's more -- they did this by leveraging the famous "double slit" experiment of quantum mechanics in a really smart way. Why didn't I think of this??? Duh!
To produce the UR image, Howell simply shone a beam of light through a stencil with the U and R etched out. Anyone who has made shadow puppets knows how this works, but Howell turned down the light so much that a single photon was all that passed through the stencil.
Quantum mechanics dictates some strange things at that scale, so that bit of light could be thought of as both a particle and a wave. As a wave, it passed through all parts of the stencil at once, carrying the "shadow" of the UR with it. The pulse of light then entered a four-inch cell of cesium gas at a warm 100 degrees Celsius, where it was slowed and compressed, allowing many pulses to fit inside the small tube at the same time.
It ranks among the most enduring mysteries of the cosmos. Physicists call it the Fermi paradox after the Italian Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi, who, in 1950, pointed out the glaring conflict between predictions that life was elsewhere in the universe - and the conspicuous lack of aliens who have come to visit.
Now a Danish researcher believes he may have solved the paradox. Extra-terrestrials have yet to find us because they haven't had enough time to look.
My guess is that the numbers might be different however. An alien civilization that could send out probes at one tenth the speed of light would probably be smart enough to create self-replicating probes, in order to generate thousands or millions of probes over time. This might bring the numbers down significantly -- although perhaps still not enough.
A new "miracle drug" appears to cure many types of cancers in a novel way. But the catch is no pharmaceutical company will fund research in it because it can't be patented! Maybe it's time to start a government agency or a non-profit that funds research and development, and distribution of, wonder drugs that are not patentable, for the public good. They could sell the drugs at cost as a non-profit -- so they would recover their investment, without making a profit. If the Gates Foundation really wanted to help cure the world's diseases this is a model for how they could do it. We can't rely only on for-profit big-pharma ventures to solve all our problems. As this case illustrates, there are potential solutions that are not only effective but also inexpensive, which are falling through the cracks because they are not defensible exclusive commerical product opportunites.
Posted on January 12, 2007 at 07:24 AM in Alternative Medicine, Alternative Science, Artificial Intelligence, Biology, Cognitive Science, Collective Intelligence, Consciousness, Fringe, Global Brain and Global Mind, Philosophy, Physics, Science, Space, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, Virtual Reality, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Scientists have discovered a dramatic variation in the genetic make-up of humans that could lead to a fundamental reappraisal of what causes incurable diseases and could provide a greater understanding of mankind.
The discovery has astonished scientists studying the human genome - the genetic recipe of man. Until now it was believed the variation between people was due largely to differences in the sequences of the individual "letters" of the genome.
It now appears much of the variation is explained instead by people having multiple copies of some key genes that make up the human genome.
Until now it was assumed that the human genome, or "book of life", is largely the same for everyone, save for a few spelling differences in some of the words. Instead, the findings suggest that the book contains entire sentences, paragraphs or even whole pages that are repeated any number of times.
The findings mean that instead of humanity being 99.9 per cent identical, as previously believed, we are at least 10 times more different between one another than once thought - which could explain why some people are prone to serious diseases.
Read the rest here.
A group of physicists at MIT have come up with a new model for beaming wireless power to mobile devices, such as computers or cell phones. It promises to do for power, what wireless ethernet hubs do for network connectivity.
I've been interested in wireless power ever since I first read the biography of Nikola Tesla in the early 1990's. Tesla was perhaps the most important inventor of the 20th century -- he singlehandedly invented much of what enables the modern electrical power grid today. He also pioneered radio, and many other technologies. But his greatest dream was wireless power. He believed he had discovered a way to beam electricity to any point on earth and embarked on several ambitious projects to test and commercialize his appraoch. But sadly his projects were never completed due to funding problems and interference by competitors and investors who had conflicting business interests. By the end of his life Tesla was a lonely and forgotten man, feeding pidgeons in the park. At his death, many of his lab notebooks were confiscated and classified as Top Secret by the US military -- never to be seen again -- (and at least some this confiscated information was later used as the foundation for the Star Wars particle beam weaponry program). The greatest electrical genius in history was just too far ahead of his own time.
Tesla's work has still not been fully understood or replicated today. But what remains unclassified is a treasure trove of invention of great relevance to the world we live in today. In 2003 I blogged an article, called "I Want Wireless Power" outlining why I want this technology. Another great article about this opportunity is here.
I've been reading some of the further posts on various blogs in reaction to the Markoff article in the New York Times last Sunday. There is a tremendous amount of misconception about the Semantic Web-- as evidenced for example by Ross Mayfield's post recently. Ross implied that the Semantic Web is about automating the Web, rather than facilitating people. This is a misconception that others have taken to even further extremes -- some people have characterized it as an effort to replace humans, replace social networks and social software, etc. etc. That is simply NOT at all correct! Quite the opposite in fact.
The Semantic Web is just a way to augment and improve the EXISTING Web and all the existing relationships, groups, communities, social networks, user-experiences, apps, content, and online services on it. It doesn't replace the Web we have, it just makes it smarter. It doesn't replace human intelligence and decision-making, it just augments human thinking, so that individuals and groups can overcome the growing complexity of information overload on the Web.
I've read several blog posts reacting to John Markoff's article today. There seem to be some misconceptions in those posts about what the Semantic Web is and is not. Here I will try to succinctly correct a few of the larger misconceptions I've run into:
Ok, here's a very unusual news item:
During his time as head of the Ministry of Defence UFO project, Nick Pope was persuaded into believing that other lifeforms may visit Earth and, more specifically, Britain.
His concern is that "highly credible" sightings are simply dismissed.
And he complains that the project he once ran is now "virtually closed" down, leaving the country "wide open" to aliens.
Mr Pope decided to speak out about his worries after resigning from his post at the Directorate of Defence Security at the MoD this week.
"The consequences of getting this one wrong could be huge," he said.
Read the rest here. I have several thoughts about this news and what it might mean...
Many years ago, in the late 1980s, while I was still a college student, I visited my late grandfather, Peter F. Drucker, at his home in Claremont, California. He lived near the campus of Claremont College where he was a professor emeritus. On that particular day, I handed him a manuscript of a book I was trying to write, entitled, "Minding the Planet" about how the Internet would enable the evolution of higher forms of collective intelligence.
My grandfather read my manuscript and later that afternoon we sat together on the outside back porch and he said to me, "One thing is certain: Someday, you will write this book." We both knew that the manuscript I had handed him was not that book, a fact that was later verified when I tried to get it published. I gave up for a while and focused on college, where I was studying philosophy with a focus on artificial intelligence. And soon I started working in the fields of artificial intelligence and supercomputing at companies like Kurzweil, Thinking Machines, and Individual.
A few years later, I co-founded one of the early Web companies, EarthWeb, where among other things we built many of the first large commercial Websites and later helped to pioneer Java by creating several large knowledge-sharing communities for software developers. Along the way I continued to think about collective intelligence. EarthWeb and the first wave of the Web came and went. But this interest and vision continued to grow. In 2000 I started researching the necessary technologies to begin building a more intelligent Web. And eventually that led me to start my present company, Radar Networks, where we are now focused on enabling the next-generation of collective intelligence on the Web, using the new technologies of the Semantic Web.
But ever since that day on the porch with my grandfather, I remembered what he said: "Someday, you will write this book." I've tried many times since then to write it. But it never came out the way I had hoped. So I tried again. Eventually I let go of the book form and created this weblog instead. And as many of my readers know, I've continued to write here about my observations and evolving understanding of this idea over the years. This article is my latest installment, and I think it's the first one that meets my own standards for what I really wanted to communicate. And so I dedicate this article to my grandfather, who inspired me to keep writing this, and who gave me his prediction that I would one day complete it.
This is an article about a new generation of technology that is sometimes called the Semantic Web, and which could also be called the Intelligent Web, or the global mind. But what is the Semantic Web, and why does it matter, and how does it enable collective intelligence? And where is this all headed? And what is the long-term far future going to be like? Is the global mind just science-fiction? Will a world that has a global mind be good place to live in, or will it be some kind of technological nightmare?
Posted on November 06, 2006 at 03:34 AM in Artificial Intelligence, Biology, Buddhism, Business, Cognitive Science, Collaboration Tools, Collective Intelligence, Consciousness, Democracy 2.0, Environment, Fringe, Genetic Engineering, Global Brain and Global Mind, Government, Group Minds, Groupware, Intelligence Technology, Knowledge Management, My Best Articles, My Proposals, Philosophy, Radar Networks, Religion, Science, Search, Semantic Blogs and Wikis, Semantic Web, Social Networks, Society, Software, Systems Theory, Technology, The Future, The Metaweb, Transhumans, Venture Capital, Virtual Reality, Web 2.0, Web/Tech, Weblogs, Wild Speculation | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
WASHINGTON (AP) - Clambakes, crabcakes, swordfish steaks and even humble fish sticks could be little more than a fond memory in a few decades. If current trends of overfishing and pollution continue, the populations of just about all seafood face collapse by 2048, a team of ecologists and economists warns in a report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
"Whether we looked at tide pools or studies over the entire world's ocean, we saw the same picture emerging. In losing species we lose the productivity and stability of entire ecosystems," said the lead author Boris Worm of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
"I was shocked and disturbed by how consistent these trends are - beyond anything we suspected," Worm said.
While the study focused on the oceans, concerns have been expressed by ecologists about threats to fish in the Great Lakes and other lakes, rivers and freshwaters, too.
Worm and an international team spent four years analyzing 32 controlled experiments, other studies from 48 marine protected areas and global catch data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's database of all fish and invertebrates worldwide from 1950 to 2003.
The scientists also looked at a 1,000-year time series for 12 coastal regions, drawing on data from archives, fishery records, sediment cores and archaeological data.
"At this point 29 percent of fish and seafood species have collapsed - that is, their catch has declined by 90 percent. It is a very clear trend, and it is accelerating," Worm said. "If the long-term trend continues, all fish and seafood species are projected to collapse within my lifetime - by 2048."
A Harvard University researcher believes that moral judgement is hard-wired into the brain:
The moral grammar now universal among people presumably evolved to its final shape during the hunter-gatherer phase of the human past, before the dispersal from the ancestral homeland in northeast Africa some 50,000 years ago. This may be why events before our eyes carry far greater moral weight than happenings far away, Dr. Hauser believes, since in those days one never had to care about people remote from ones environment.
Dr. Hauser believes that the moral grammar may have evolved through the evolutionary mechanism known as group selection. A group bound by altruism toward its members and rigorous discouragement of cheaters would be more likely to prevail over a less cohesive society, so genes for moral grammar would become more common.
This is so sad. Elephants are increasingly being wiped out due to encroachment by nearby human populations, and also by inept human attempts to help them -- and of course by poaching. As their species is increasingly backed into a dead-end corner, and as older elephants are separated from their herds, younger elephants are developing psychological disorders and are becoming violent. Meanwhile female elephants are not learning to rear their young properly, leading to developmental disorders and social problems that then ripple from generation to generation. All of this is adding up to a downward spiral for elephants worldwide -- and in fact, as the article illustrates, elephants in completely separate communites around the world are starting to exhibit signs of "going crazy." I've always loved elephants and I wish there was something that could be done.
Humanity is so out of balance with the rest of planet. I'm a realist though -- I don't believe that governments, or even the majority of people in the world, will ever just sacrifice their own gain for the good of the environment or any other species. Only if it is clearly tied to their survival or personal gain, will most people and governments "feel the pain" enough to change their behavior.
The solution to the tragedy of the commons is to privatize, or to somehow connect what happens in the commons to everyone's survival and benefit. Locally, elephant survival and well-being could be assured if the local government and people were paid to maintain them as a world resource. I think that there really should be a form of global taxation whereby every government pays into a fund that is then used to pay certain local communities around endangered resources and species to protect and steward them.
If there was a way to turn their environments and endangered species into resources that earned money for them (more money than they could earn by destroying them), then they would finally be motivated to take care of them. I doubt that any other kind of solution will ultimately work. Maybe I'm too cynical or too much of a realist or a pragmatist. But I really do think this solution would work, not just for the elephants, but the rainforests, the whales, coral reefs and fisheries, etc.