From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy - "A former academic mathematician and ex-hedge fund quant exposes flaws in how information is used to assess everything from creditworthiness to policing tactics, with results that cause damage both financially and to the fabric of society. Programmed biases and a lack of feedback are among the concerns behind the clever and apt title of Cathy O'Neil's book: Weapons of Math Destruction." [more inside]
"Autism is seen like some sort of mental superpower where we can see math in the air. In my experience, this isn’t really the case." - Dispelling some myths about the autistic wunderkind programmer. Also: Why you might not want to get TOO excited about autism employment initiatives. Autism FAQ
In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
Free Basics: Facebook's Biggest Setback From Zuckerberg’s vantage point, high above the connected world he had helped create, India was a largely blank map. [more inside]
World After Capital by Albert Wenger [Work in Progress; GitHub; GitBook; PDF; FAQ] - "Technological progress has shifted scarcity for humanity. When we were foragers, food was scarce. During the agrarian age, it was land. Following the industrial revolution, capital became scarce. With digital technologies scarcity is shifting from capital to attention. World After Capital suggests ways to expand economic, informational and psychological freedom to go from an industrial to a knowledge society." (previously)
Kim-Mai Cutler: Nothing Like This Has Ever Happened Before - "San Francisco Bay Area poverty rates in all nine counties have increased in the last economic cycle, even with the Facebook and Twitter IPOs and private tech boom. The main transfer mechanism is land and housing costs, as rising rents and evictions push service and other low-wage workers to the brink. [Henry] George's solution was a single land tax that would replace all other government revenue sources. If an owner wanted to develop their property to make it more useful or productive, George argued that they should have the right to keep the value from those efforts. But increases in the value of underlying land were created by — and ultimately belonged to — the public at large." (previously: 1,2,3) [more inside]
25 years ago, Paul M. Romer's oft-cited article: "Endogenous Technological Change" (pdf) was published in The Journal of Political Economy. In it, he tried to explain how technological progress and knowledge creation affected the dynamics of growth. Romer’s model (pdf) became the "primary engine that fueled a decade-long re-examination of long-term growth in economics." This past October, Dr. Romer posted 7 follow-up blog entries to his historic paper, in order to 'revisit the basics,' starting with: Nonrival Goods After 25 Years. [more inside]
It's Payback Time for Women - "Society is getting a free ride on our unrewarded contributions to the perpetuation of the human race." (via) [more inside]
The Future of (Post)Capitalism - "Paul Mason shows how, from the ashes of the recent financial crisis, we have the chance to create a more socially just and sustainable global economy." (previously; via) [more inside]
FINLAND: New Government Commits to a Basic Income Experiment - "The Finnish government of Juha Sipilä is considering a pilot project that would give everyone of working age a basic income."[1,2,3] (via) [more inside]
Fenlason dubbed his clone Hack for two reasons: "One definition was 'a quick [computer] hack because I don't have access to Rogue'. The other was 'hack-n-slash', a reference to one of the styles of playing Dungeons and Dragons." - A chapter long excerpt from David Craddock's Dungeon Hacks, a new book on the history of the Roguelike RPG.
Shared Prosperity, Common Wealth, National Equity and a Citizen's Dividend: Nirit Peled takes a look at social experiments in basic incomes for VPRO Tegenlicht, a Dutch public television documentary series. Starting with a German crowdfunded UBI chosen by raffle -- kind of like the opposite of Le Guin's Omelas (or Shirley Jackson's Lottery in reverse) -- the focus moves on to Albert Wenger who wants to disconnect work from income not only as automation progresses but to accelerate the process. Then it's on to Guy Standing who has conducted basic income experiments in India and Namibia (pdf) and is trying to get one off the ground in Groningen (Utrecht apparently is also a go). Finally, a stop in Alaska to ask some of its residents about their views on the state-owned Permanent Fund. This last part brings to mind the question: just what is wealth anyway? [more inside]
DevArt: An exhibition of art created with code - skywriting quadcopter drones programmed with c++, room dividers reimagined as 3D screens for psychedelic projections, using raspberry pi to rename WiFi networks as lines of poetry. They are collaborating with the Barbican in London for the Digital Revolution exhibition and are currently seeking an emerging creative coder to be funded to present at the exhibition alongside world-class interactive artists Zach Lieberman, Karsten Schmidt, and the duo of Varvara Guljajeva & Mar Canet.
Time-sink alert: The Cutting Room Floor is a site dedicated to unearthing and researching unused and cut content from video games. From debug menus, to unused music, graphics, enemies, or levels, many games have content never meant to be seen by anybody but the developers — or even meant for everybody, but cut due to time/budget constraints.
seaQuest: what if we could learn to live on/underneath the oceans (or in orbit)? [previously(er)] [more inside]
This is just the top 30, what I consider to be the most likely candidates for actual new programming jargon based on community upvotes, not just "funny thing that another programmer typed on a webpage and I felt compelled to upvote for hilarity". Because that would be Reddit. Coding Horror presents the top 30 Stack Overflow New Programming Jargon entries.
Malaysia is proposing a Computing Professionals Bill, based on the Registration of Engineers Act [.PDF] which makes it mandatory for all practicing "computing professionals" to be registered with a government body. Dealing in the IT industry, including sending “proposals, plans, designs, drawings, schemes, reports, studies or others to be determined by the Board to any person or authority in Malaysia” without being registered will incur a fine not exceeding RM20,000 (~US$6380) or 6 months in jail. Malaysian IT professionals and geeks are up in arms, and similarities have been drawn to Nigeria's law on computing professionals.
Science fiction always uses it in varying degrees. Some believe it will bring about a perfect Technological Utopia:Heaven on Earth. Some believe it will herald a dark and dystopian future. Perhaps it will elevate man to a being that is more than human; Human+ and permanently and irrevocably transform the human condition, and still others believe that too much involvement in it will void your existence. Some religions totally depend on it and others find it harder to deal with: The list of emerging technologies.
Commodity Prices and Paradigm Shifts - "The real paradigm shift, or more like a paradigm drift, because it is slowly enveloping us, is that we are moving toward preferences and lifestyle where we will simply consume less. A lot less... [more inside]
The library system in Polk County, Florida has installed vending machines so that patrons who aren't close to a library can still check books out.
Inducement Prizes -- Best known for the Ansari X Prize, the DARPA Grand Challenge and the Clay Mathematics Millennium Problems, inducement prizes have a long history, but their recent successes have led to increased government interest, viz. challenge.gov, and resulted in the development of vaccines, thanks in large part to the work of Michael Kremer.* [more inside]
Armed with a netbook, medical supplies and a bicycle, Bangladesh's InfoLadies are giving millions of poor people access to crucial information on their doorsteps that will improve their chances in life
Paul Romer: A Theory of History, with an Application - "His economic theory of history explains phenomena such as the constant improvement of the human standard of living by looking primarily at just two forms of innovative ideas: technology and rules." (previously, via) [more inside]
Women's rights: What's in it for men? - "Women in rich countries largely enjoy gender equality while those in poor countries suffer substantial discrimination. This column proposes an explanation for the relationship between economic development and female empowerment that emphasises changes in the incentives males face rather than shifts in moral sentiment. Technological change that raises demand for human capital may give men a stake in women's rights." [more inside]
In 2007 there will be lots of anniversaries, the web will keep killing the television star, the popcorn will taste familiar, humankind will come closer still to achieving immortality, and text messaging will conquer Africa. And although the spread of democracy is stalling (don't worry however - the Swedes still win (pdf)), it's still down to George Bush.
The Economist: The World in 2007.
The Economist: The World in 2007.
Lifestraw: From surface water to drinking water.
In China's newly wealthy cities, a research boom is starting. In parts of the countryside, the rivers are black and too toxic to touch.
MIT's R&D for the US Army of the future appears to be based on a comic book.
Lynn Conway is one of the major talents in the history of the development of computers, responsible for major advances without which computers we buy now would be much different. She's also a transsexual, born physically male. While working for IBM she had her sex-change operation, and IBM immediately fired her for it.
jon kats on "geek profiling": "W.A.V.E joins new sofware "security" programs ... being tested in public schools in America to compile and computerize information on students believed to be dangerous or potentially violent. This new rat-on-kids industry is an offshoot of the Geek Profiling anti-Net hysteria that broke out all across the United States after the Columbine High School killings, whose first anniversary is fast approaching. Despite the fact that horrific incidents like Columbine are extremely rare, and that the FBI and Justice Department have both reported that youth violence has dropped to its lowest levels in more than half a century, the belief persists in much of America that technologies like the Internet (and activities like computer gaming) are turning otherwise healthy school children into mass murderers."