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Are we living on the hinge of history?


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Med Tech Roundup: Eight-Day Cancer Cure and other Quick Fixes

4/2/13

 

A new gene therapy has been found to cure leukemia in eight days. Five patients with a fatal diagnosis received the treatment, and only one of them succumbed. A doctor from Sloane-Kettering will now lead a second trial with fifty patients.

 

That isn’t the only good news for the fight against cancer. The WSJ recently *reported on a new attempt to compile information on “hundreds of thousands” of cancer patients into a searchable database. Doctors consulting the database could see how patients similar to their own responded to various treatments. It’s such a good idea, one wonders why it hasn’t happened already:

 

(Snip)

 

Getting all this data in one place is just one of the many types of low-hanging fruit in health care reform. The WSJ reported yesterday on the growth of [/url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323296504578396442302663234.html]medical imaging sharing[/url]. New services are reducing the costs of repeat medical scans by allowing hospitals to transfer the scans to each other directly over a secure electronic network. Patients can now get a same-day second opinion from a doctor across the country without having to pay for the trip or a second scan. Essentially, this is Dropbox for doctors.

 

(Snip)

 

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Smartphones Bringing Smart Government to a City Near You

4/2/13

 

Red tape may soon be a thing of the past in Los Angeles. According to Yahoo, the city has just released a new app that lets citizens communicate directly with city officials:

 

[it] will let residents report potholes, pay city utility bills and look up dog parks at the tap of a virtual button.

 

Instead of calling 311 to report problems, residents can use the app. They can even snap photos to accompany reports of potholes or graffiti.

 

This will give Los Angeles residents just a taste of the governance of the future. Instead of waiting in long lines and navigating chaotic bureaucracies, Americans will be able to take care of their civic business from anywhere.

 

This is a minor little gee-whiz technology story, but it does point to a larger truth which tends to get lost in the shrill partisan debates: it’s not so much a question of whether we should have big government or small government as much as it is a question of how do we get a smart government. We need a government that is both more efficient and more responsive to the needs of an increasingly busy population.

 

(Snip)

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The Latest In SmartFashion is Wearable Technology

Marcelle Sussman Fischler

4/6/13

 

Maxwell Smart would have loved this stuff. From smart watches that take your calls and your emails to Google glasses’ latest take on reality, tech companies are creating wearable gadgetry. Futuristic Muse brain-sensing headbands let you play thought-controlled games, improve your memory and reduce stress via Bluetooth. Purses with built in smartphone chargers are downright chic. Hot flashes? New lines of smart jackets are designed to cool you down, and warm you up again. Body sensors, some built into shirts, are letting doctors remotely monitor and diagnose vitals.

 

Handbags are no longer just for holding our stuff. Everpurse.com’s stylish clutch and a cross-body purse are designed with built-in docking stations that can be used to charge your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy III phone twice — then the handbag itself needs to be recharged on its own thin charging mat. Sensatex’s Smart Shirt has embedded sensors to monitor your heartbeat and health-related problems as go about your day, with programming built in to call for help.

 

(Snip)

 

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Really interesing stuff, @Valin.

 

So can we expect to see you with the latest in fashions? smile.png

 

Probably not. My cell phone had run out of minutes and I neither noticed nor cared until I flew up to Portland and knew I would need it to stay in touch with my daughter as I cared for my grandsons and she was at work. bag.gif

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Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance Through Technology

Bradley A. Smith

4/8/13

 

Title: Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance Through Technology

Author: John O. McGinnis

Publish Date: 2012

Publisher / Edition: Princeton University Press

 

John McGinnis certainly doesn’t underestimate the importance of his task in Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance Through Technology. By page 4, he makes clear that “mass disorientation” caused by rapid technological change “can become the source of both national aggression and non-state terrorism… the dynamic of modern technology could as easily lead to a nightfall of civilization as to the dawn of a far better world.”

 

With that bold statement of the stakes, McGinnis, the George C. Dix Professor of Constitutional Law at Northwestern University, takes on the very Madisonian task of considering the design of a government for the twenty-first century (to say “and beyond” would almost seem to ignore an important component McGinnis’s thesis: that technological change is coming so rapidly that tremendous and ongoing flexibility in government structures will be required).

 

For purposes of this review, we can breeze over some of the most interesting reading in Accelerating Democracy. McGinnis devotes the opening chapters to reviewing the rapid and accelerating nature of technological change, and argues convincingly that such change creates upheavals that can lead to mass social unrest and disruption. Additionally, technology, while opening new avenues for progress, can also pose greater threats. To take an easy example, the advent of the nuclear age offers a great source of clean energy while creating a waste disposal problem rarely if ever seen before – not to mention the destructive power of weapons resulting from some of the same discoveries.

 

Meeting this challenge requires updating government structures to assure better public decision-making, and here we find the meat of McGinnis’s project......(Snip)

 

 

 

H/T John J Miller: Between The Covers

 

Accelerating Democracy: Transforming Governance Through Technology

Book Description

Publication Date: December 10, 2012

 

Successful democracies throughout history--from ancient Athens to Britain on the cusp of the industrial age--have used the technology of their time to gather information for better governance. Our challenge is no different today, but it is more urgent because the accelerating pace of technological change creates potentially enormous dangers as well as benefits. Accelerating Democracy shows how to adapt democracy to new information technologies that can enhance political decision making and enable us to navigate the social rapids ahead.

 

John O. McGinnis demonstrates how these new technologies combine to address a problem as old as democracy itself--how to help citizens better evaluate the consequences of their political choices. As society became more complex in the nineteenth century, social planning became a top-down enterprise delegated to experts and bureaucrats. Today, technology increasingly permits information to bubble up from below and filter through more dispersed and competitive sources. McGinnis explains how to use fast-evolving information technologies to more effectively analyze past public policy, bring unprecedented intensity of scrutiny to current policy proposals, and more accurately predict the results of future policy. But he argues that we can do so only if government keeps pace with technological change. For instance, it must revive federalism to permit different jurisdictions to test different policies so that their results can be evaluated, and it must legalize information markets to permit people to bet on what the consequences of a policy will be even before that policy is implemented.

 

 

This looks like it might be worth the time spent.

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Cool! And amazing.

 

Life after silicon: How carbon nanotubes will power future gadgets

Geoff Duncan

November 11, 2012

 

 

For most of the last five decades, the processing hearts of all our computers, game consoles, smartphones, cars, media players and even alarm clocks have been made of silicon. No surprise: The namesake of Silicon Valley is cheap, readily available, and easily manipulated during manufacturing processes.

 

But scientists and researchers now believe silicon-based processors are reaching their limits. Physical laws limit how small silicon transistors can get before the signals they process just become a random electrical haze. That’s why new research from scientists at IBM seems to hold so much promise for the future of computing: They may have found a realistic way to ditch silicon in favor of carbon nanotubes.

 

Carbo-nano-what?

 

graphene-alexanderalus-300x300-c.jpg

Graphene crystalline grid

 

Carbon is one of the most versatile elements in nature, taking the form of everything from coal to pencil lead and diamonds. One of the forms it can take is graphene. You can think of graphene as a bit like molecular chicken wire: individual carbon atoms bond together in a hexagonal pattern, forming a sheet that can be just one atom thick. At a very basic level, a carbon nanotube is a sheet of graphene that’s rolled up and joined with itself to form a cylinder: The hexagonal structure of the carbon bonds means that tube can ideally be seamless — no point is weaker than any other — and the tubes can be very, very long — molecularly speaking, anyway. Carbon nanotubes have been constructed that are more than 100 million times longer than they are wide. Sure, that’s still tiny to you and me, but carbon nanotubes can be far larger than any other known cylindrical nanostructure — and that’s a tremendously useful characteristic if you’re trying to design very tiny things like processor chips.

 

(Snip)

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

 

Nanotechnology one of the waves of the future.

 

When I was with the Donaldson co. worked a lot with nano fibers. Donaldson Membranes

 

 

 

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New Publisher Authors Trust: Themselves

LESLIE KAUFMAN

April 16, 2013

 

When the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and author David Mamet released his last book, “The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture,” with the Sentinel publishing house in 2011, it sold well enough to make the New York Times best-seller list.

 

This year, when Mr. Mamet set out to publish his next one, a novella and two short stories about war, he decided to take a very different path: he will self-publish.

Mr. Mamet is taking advantage of a new service being offered by his literary agency, ICM Partners, as a way to assume more control over the way his book is promoted.

 

 

(Snip)

 

As digital disruption continues to reshape the publishing market, self-publishing — including distribution digitally or as print on demand — has become more and more popular, and more feasible, with an increasing array of options for anyone with an idea and a keyboard. Most of the attention so far has focused on unknown and unsigned authors who storm onto the best-seller lists through their own ingenuity.

 

The announcement by ICM and Mr. Mamet suggests that self-publishing will begin to widen its net and become attractive also to more established authors. For one thing, as traditional publishers have cut back on marketing, this route allows well-known figures like Mr. Mamet to look after their own publicity.

 

 

(Snip)

 

Since last fall, Trident Media Group, which represents 800 authors, has been offering its clients self-publishing possibilities through deals negotiated though online publishers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, in a system very similar to the one ICM is setting up. Robert Gottlieb, chairman of Trident, says that 200 authors have taken advantage of the service, though mostly for reissuing older titles, the backlist.

 

(Snip)

 

 

H/T Breitbart

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Atomically precise placement of dangling bonds on silicon surface

4/5/13

 

We have previously speculated here whether the continued improvement of technology to place single atoms on silicon with atomic precision for the purpose of developing practical quantum computers would also lead to more general methods of atomically precise or molecular manufacturing. That speculation remains open, but we note that the field of atomically precise quantum engineering continues to advance. A hat tip to ScienceDaily for reprinting this University College London news release “Building quantum states with individual silicon atoms“:

 

By introducing individual silicon atom ‘defects’ using a scanning tunnelling microscope, scientists at the London Centre for Nanotechnology have coupled single atoms to form quantum states.

 

Published today in Nature Communications [open access paper: Quantum engineering at the silicon surface using dangling bonds, the study demonstrates the viability of engineering atomic-scale quantum states on the surface of silicon – an important step toward the fabrication of devices at the single-atom limit.

 

(Snip)

 

 

H/T Instapundit

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What?!!

 

Life is rapidly passing me by. I'm still trying to figure out if I need to get a new printer and if I do, do I need to have my son come over and hook it up for me.

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What?!!

 

Life is rapidly passing me by. I'm still trying to figure out if I need to get a new printer and if I do, do I need to have my son come over and hook it up for me.

 

In regards to post #113, I'm not even going to pretend I understand what a Quantum computer is...let alone dangling bonds. I'm sure I approve of dangling bonds, and I think someone should do something about them!

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star-wars-episode-v---the-empire-strikes-back-photo.jpg

 

Professors Block Online Ed to Keep Their Jobs

5/1/13

 

A number of universities have been integrating online coursework into their programs in recent years. But Duke University has just pulled out of an online education consortium at the behest of its faculty, the New York Times reports:

 

(Snip)

Faculty concerns about the spread of online courses may be on the rise. Just two weeks ago, faculty members at Amherst College voted against participating in edX, the nonprofit collaboration founded by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, citing concerns about costs and about how “massive open online courses” would affect a residential campus devoted to small discussion classes.

 

According to Amherst’s internal report, faculty members also worried that the introduction of MOOCs would “take student tuition dollars away from so-called middle-tier and lower-tier” schools, pushing their colleagues at these institutions out of their jobs.

 

(Snip)

 

It comes as little surprise that entrenched interests want to obstruct online ed to protect their careers, but they would do honor to their profession by letting it thrive instead.

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The printable gun has arrived

Jazz Shaw

5/4/13

 

Just to establish a baseline of what we’re talking about here, any of you who regularly watch shows like How it’s Made, Modern Marvels or any of the other science and technology offerings on cable probably already know about 3-D printing. (One of the featured manufacturers of these machines has a nice video tutorial on it.) Basically, a 3-D model is designed and the “printer” lays down one layer after another of material until the model is produced. And some of these machines are already getting down to the affordable range.

 

So what would you do if you got one? Well, if you’re Cody Wilson, you’d print a gun of course. Forbes has the exclusive.

 

Eight months ago, Cody Wilson set out to create the world’s first entirely 3D-printable handgun.

 

Now he has.

 

Early next week, Wilson, a 25-year University of Texas law student and founder of the non-profit group Defense Distributed, plans to release the 3D-printable CAD files for a gun he calls “the Liberator,” pictured in its initial form above. He’s agreed to let me document the process of the gun’s creation, so long as I don’t publish details of its mechanics or its testing until it’s been proven to work reliably and the file has been uploaded to Defense Distributed’s online collection of printable gun blueprints at Defcad.org.

 

PrintableGunFull-300x200.jpg

 

(Snip)

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From The Dark Side...or potential dark side.

 

Walking the ethical edge: ‘Made-to-order’ embryos address genuine needs

Jon Entine

5/6/13

 

An important debate has erupted around the desire for infertile couples to have children and how best to service this growing need.

 

The latest round of ethical contretemps is an intriguing April article in The New England Journal of Medicine, "Made-to-Order Embryos for Sale-A Brave New World?" which discusses-comprehensively and dispassionately-many of the concerns raised about embryo donations, whether gifted or for sale.

 

It was a response to the controversy touched off last fall by a report in the Los Angeles Times featuring a Davis, California for-profit embryo selling business that opened in 2010. That story stirred an ethical tizzy. "I am horrified by the thought of this," the article quoted Andrew Vorzimer, a Los Angeles fertility lawyer, who voiced his belief that there was a huge and disturbing distinction between clinics that arranged "friendly" donations of embryos and ones that paired anonymous ones. "It is nothing short of the commodification of children."

 

As if on cue, the NEJM report written by I. Glenn Cohen, a lawyer and Co-Director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard University and Eli Y. Adashi, physician-scientist and Immediate Past Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences at Brown University, brought out a familiar rebuke from the Center for Genetics and Society, which called the made-for-order' IVF model "truly terrifying."

 

Fist, let's acknowledge the "eeeew" factor. The idea of selling any body part, let alone the combination of sperm and egg that leads to the formation of an embryo, can be disconcerting at first (or even second) thought......(Snip)

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The Jobs Crisis: Bigger Than You Think

Walter Russell Mead

5/10/13

 

Of the Big Five questions facing America today, the most pressing and urgent is the question of jobs. This is more than the problem of recovering from the last economic slump; it is more than the impact of globalization and automation on manufacturing jobs. The American economy is shedding jobs, especially long-term, well-paying jobs with good benefits, and the jobs that replace them are often less secure and less well paid. The relentless transformation of the American labor market is changing the nature of American life, calling into question some of the basic assumptions and building blocks of the last fifty years, and generating a complex mix of political and social pressures that will shake the country to its foundations.

 

Essentially, the problem is this: automation and IT are moving routine processing, whether that being processed is information or matter, out of the realm of human work and into the realm of machines. Factory floors are increasingly automated places where fewer and fewer human beings are needed to transform raw materials into finished products; clerical work and many forms of mass employment in business, government and management are also increasingly performed more economically by computers than by trained human beings.

 

The transformation is only beginning to kick in......(Snip)

 

 

The question, and it is not only a question for Americans, is where do we go from here? Is the new economy locking us into permanent inequality, insecurity, polarization and class conflict? Are we at the early stage of a Great Unraveling that will roll back the clock on the social achievements of the twentieth century and fall back from Blue Model Fordism to Victorian capitalism red in tooth and claw? People in Italy and France are asking this as much as people in California and Connecticut; these changes in the labor market are stirring huge and justifiable anxieties across the entire developed world.

 

(Snip)

 

A service economy resting on the high productivity agriculture, manufacturing and information processing will be a more affluent and a more human economy than what we have now. Human energy will be liberated from wringing the bare necessities from a reluctant nature; energy and talent will flow into making life more beautiful, more interesting, more entertaining and easier to use. By 1960 few American suburbanites really envied their hardscrabble, uneducated ancestors shivering through the winter in sod huts on the open prairie; one suspects that few Americans in 2060 will be pining for the glorious old days of 9 to 5 at GM.

 

But the change will come hard. The tax system and the financial system will have to change to promote the rise of a new world of jobs. The educational system will have to change to prepare young people for new kinds of lives. We are going to have to make all kinds of changes as our society comes to embody a new kind of economic logic. The changes won’t be easy but they aren’t optional.

 

Our jobs problem won’t be solved by macroeconomic policy shifts or money manipulation by the central bankers. It’s not going away anytime soon. Like the nation of family farmers as the industrial revolution took hold, Americans used to blue model Fordism are going to have to move on.

 

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Experiment Brings Human Cloning One Step Closer

GAUTAM NAIK

5/15/13

 

Scientists have used cloning technology to transform human skin cells into embryonic stem cells, an experiment that may revive the controversy over human cloning.

The researchers stopped well short of creating a human clone. But they showed, for the first time, that it is possible to create cloned embryonic stem cells that are genetically identical to the person from whom they are derived.

These stem cells could go on to differentiate into heart, nerve, muscle, bone and all the other tissue types that make up a human body.

 

(Snip)

 

But the refinements described Wednesday in the latest experiment suggest that "it's a matter of time before they produce a cloned monkey," said Jose Cibelli, a cloning expert at Michigan State University, who wasn't involved in the study. It also means, he added, "that they are one step closer to where the efficiency is high enough that someone is willing to try" to clone a person, though that remains a distant—and to some, disturbing—prospect.

The experiment was published online in the journal Cell. It was funded by Oregon Health and Science University and a grant from Leducq Foundation of France.

 

(Snip)

 

*The achievement is a long way from creating a cloned human embryo. Even if the entire blastocyst had been implanted into a womb, it wouldn't have yielded a human clone. The blastocyst was "missing a few cell types that it would need to implant" and was suffering other deficiencies, said Dr. Mitalipov.

Never mind the prospect of cloned humans; despite years of experiments, scientists have failed to clone monkeys.

Dr. Mitalipov said his lab had tried transplanting entire blastocysts into a monkey's womb, but those experiments hadn't yielded a single successful pregnancy.

 

(Snip)

 

 

* Define "A Long Way"?

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Via Meadia: The Bandwidth of the Future

5/28/13

 

A team of researchers at Bell Laboratories has reportedly developed a new technique for sending data farther and faster along fiber-optic lines, the physical infrastructure that forms the backbone of the internet. This is a big step. Researchers have long feared that there might be a limit to the speed and distance data can be transmitted over fiber-optic cables. But this new technique may allow us to improve on the infrastructure we already have.

 

According to the BBC, the technique neutralizes distortions picked up during transmission in much the same way that noise-canceling headphones block sound. As a result, the researchers were able to overcome fiber-optic limitations:

 

(Snip)

 

In case we needed any more proof, these researchers have shown us once again that the pace of the information revolution is not slowing down. Technological developments like this will over time reshape the global economy—and if anything they feel like they’re coming faster and faster with each passing day.

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Another Israeli Medical Miracle

6/4/13

 

If the video above doesnt have you marveling at the creativity of humanity, we feel for you: the 21st century is going to be rough.

 

The Israeli company OrCam offers the latest proof that the tiny, embattled Middle Eastern state is a leader in world-class technology. OrCam has created a pair of eyeglasses that allows blind and visually impaired people to read labels as they shop, navigate city streets, and read the newspaper. But, as the NYT reports, its even more impressive than that:

 

 

 

What is remarkable is that the device learns from the user to recognize a new product, said Tomaso Poggio, a computer scientist at M.I.T. who is a computer vision expert and with whom Dr. Shashua studied as a graduate student. This is more complex than it appears, and, as an expert, I find it really impressive. [...]

 

[T]he OrCam technique, which was described in a technical paper in 2011 by the Hebrew University researchers, offers a reasonable trade-off between recognition accuracy and speed. The technique, known as Shareboost, is distinguished by the fact that as the number of objects it needs to recognize grows, the system minimizes the amount of additional computer power required.

(Snip)
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Graphene: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

6/13/13

 

cientists may have found a way to power electronic devices with just a fraction of the energy they currently use, and its all thanks to graphene, a much-hyped material with some remarkable properties.

 

Graphene has been hailed as a miracle material, but its structure is fairly simple. Its just a sheet of carbon molecules, connected in a honeycomb-like structure. It can barely be called three dimensionalit is only one atom thickbut can extend indefinitely in two dimensions. And its been called[/url] the strongest, most flexible, and most conductive material in the world. The FT reports:

 

The latest finding, reported in the journal Nature Communications, is that microscopic patches of graphene can be made magnetic and the magnetism turned on and off with an electric switch. [...]

 

Magnetic materials are key to many information storage devices including computer discs, which store bits of data through north or south polarisation. But flipping orientation is a relatively slow and energy-consuming process, which has not yet been incorporated in active devices such as transistors. [...]

 

This could open a new route to electronic devices with extremely low energy consumption, said Andre Geim, who shared a Nobel Prize for the original discovery and is a co-author of research.

(Snip)

 

This serves as another reminder that those who predict the future based on the technologies of the present are almost guaranteed to look foolish. Here is a material with immense potentialjust a collection of carbon atomsthat wasnt discovered until 2004. Were excited to see what scientists and engineers can come up with next.

 

Also Graphene Can Work in Real Life Electronics--With One-Atom-Thin Wires

 

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