Thursday, February 2, 2017

Friday Thinking 3 Feb. 2017

Hello all – Friday Thinking is a humble curation of my foraging in the digital environment. My purpose is to pick interesting pieces, based on my own curiosity (and the curiosity of the many interesting people I follow), about developments in some key domains (work, organization, social-economy, intelligence, domestication of DNA, energy, etc.)  that suggest we are in the midst of a change in the conditions of change - a phase-transition. That tomorrow will be radically unlike yesterday.

Many thanks to those who enjoy this.
In the 21st Century curiosity will SKILL the cat.
Jobs are dying - work is just beginning.

“Be careful what you ‘insta-google-tweet-face’”
Woody Harrelson - Triple 9


At Repair Cafes, ‘Beloved but Broken’ Possessions Find New Life

There are three ways to judge a thing. The first is the Platonic way: we compare it to an ideal. We do this with people — and it poisons our relationships. We do it with societies — and this is the leftist objection: no society lives up to my Platonic ideal, thus no society can be successful.

The second way is the Hegelian way: we compare a thing to it’s antithesis. We do this with ourselves — and it damages our sense of self-worth: I am not as good as them, they are the opposite of me, rich, pretty, handsome, famous, and so on. We do it with societies, too. This is the rightist objection: no society is as good as it could be if it was something else, a kingdom, a jungle, a family, some kind of antithesis of a society, therefore no society can be successful.

Do you see the illogic of both these positions? The leftist compares society to a Platonic ideal, and finds it ever wanting. The rightist compares society to a Hegelian antithesis, and finds it ever wanting. They are answering the questions “is a society perfect?” or “is a society better off being something else?”. But neither of these questions are relevant to “is a society successful?”. What is the right way to answer that question?

The third way to judge a thing is neither Platonic nor Hegelian but Aristotelian. Not to compare it to an ideal, or to an antithesis, but to understand if it is fully realizing itself. How are we to do that for a society? How can we say a society is successful at being a society? Not a jungle, an airplane, or an eclair, but a society.

The facts are simple. Societies like Sweden, Canada, and Australia are more successful than societies like the US. At what? At being societies. No: not perfect. But more successful at what societies exist to do: deliver social goods, that allow people to enjoy genuinely prosperous lives. How do we know? Objective reality tells us so: in them, people live longer, enjoy their lives more, have greater opportunities, face fewer insecurities, and so on — the list is nearly endless, and you can edit it as you see fit.

A society is not an objective reality. It has no substance, no form. It is not a mountain or a river. It is more like a cloud. It is just agreements and norms and unsaid contracts. And yet. It is for precisely that reason that we can validate its success objectively. They must have a function, must they not? A society is not an objective reality, but the function, the telos, the purpose of a society most assuredly is

Umair Haque - What Is a Successful Society? Plato, Hegel, Aristotle, You, Me

“The next 30 years are critical for the world,” he said. “Every technological revolution takes about 50 years.” In the first 20 years, we witnessed the rise of technology giants like eBay, Facebook, Alibaba and Google. This is “good”, Ma said, but now we need to focus on what comes next.

“The next 30 years,” should be about handling “the implications of this technology,” he argued.

“The most important thing is to make the technology inclusive – make the world change. Next, pay attention to those people who are 30 years old, because those are the internet generation. They will change the world, they are the builders of the world.
“Third, let’s pay attention to the companies who have fewer than 30 employees. So, 30 years, and 30 years old, and 30 employees, that way we can make the world much better.”

These 3 trends will define your future, says Jack Ma

The contributions of post-industrial workers cannot be understood as fixed-wage generic inputs, but they can easily be understood as risk investments, in the very same way as we have understood shareholders’ financial contributions. We should ask whether the current social construct of allocating risks and rewards between different contributions is inevitable for some reason, or whether it is an outdated industrial era artifact that should be redesigned?

The programmable view understands enterprises as contextual interaction, rather than seeing them as entities outside of that interaction. The programmable view sees firms as continually evolving live networks. Work is not job roles, but context specific contributions. The challenge for the firm is to be inviting to as many applicable contributions/investments as possible, from as many people as possible. The firm of the future may be ten million people working together for ten minutes.

A firm, then, is not a bundle of assets belonging to owners, but a bundle of dynamic, smart contracts between people.

The Programmable Enterprise

It took 50 years for the world to install the first million industrial robots. The next million will take only eight, according to Macquarie. Importantly, much of the recent growth happened outside the U.S., in particular in China, which has an aging population and where wages have risen.

The Robot Rampage

This is a 4 min must read - for anyone interested in the future of work and knowledge management as the assemblage of knowledge networks as and when needed.
The programmable enterprise is able to dynamically integrate contributions from its entire network around the problem definitions of each individual customer context. The on-demand-chain means continuous change. Because the organization is in effect a process of continuous organizing, software needs to take the role of managers in organizing and coordinating work. Human managers become a bottleneck.

The Programmable Enterprise

The firm of the future may be ten million people working together for ten minutes
Corporations are the dominant mechanism by which economic activity is organized. Whether there are opportunities for social innovation in the corporate world is hence a key question for the prosperity and well being in the emerging post-industrial society.

Over the past years, intelligent technologies, peer-to-peer cryptocurrencies and the Internet have laid the foundation for a very small size and a very low-cost enterprise with the potential for managing very large numbers of business relationships. The impact of these new actors is still hard to grasp because we are used to thinking about work from a different perspective.

Our thinking arises from a make-and-sell economic model. Most managers still subscribe to this and think that the core of creating value is to plan and manage a supply chain. A firm is accordingly seen as an entity that is separate from the people who work there. After specific financial investments have been made, the firm is defined by the ownership of the assets and the power that the people who made these investments have. As a result of this model, the relationship between the company and the contributors of financial capital is very different from the relationship between the company and the people who work there, the employees.

We are passing through a technological discontinuity of huge proportions. The new programmable economy demands new approaches to value creation. In the mass-market economy, the focus was to create a quality product. With increased global competition that is not enough any more. The focus changes to a joint process of defining and solving contextual problems. You and your customer necessarily then become cooperators. You are together creating value in a way that both satisfies the customer and ensures a profit for you. New economic spaces beyond incumbent firms are emerging.

I hesitated to include this 19 min read - while I have obvious biases in this curation - I’ve tended to stay away from direct political commentary. However, given the above post on the programmable organization and so many other posts about the emerging need for self-organizing and agile forms of managing and governing ourselves - I thought this post would provide some interesting insight to the current state of the world and illustrates some of the principles often referred to here. This is Well Worth the read.

Situational Assessment 2017: Trump Edition

While many things have changed in the world in the past two years, 2016 saw what looks like a phase transition in the political domain. While the overall phenomenon is global in scale and includes Brexit and other movements throughout Europe, I want to focus specifically on the victory of the “Trump Insurgency” and drill down into detail on how this state change will play out.

I use John Robb’s term “Trump Insurgency” here to highlight the fact that the election of 2016 was not an example of “ordinary politics”. Anyone who fails to understand this is going to be making significant errors. For example, the 2016 election is not comparable to the 2000 election (e.g., merely a “close” election) nor to the 1980 election (e.g., an “ideological transition” election). While it is tempting to compare it to 1860, I’m not sure that is a good match either.

In fact, as I go back and try to do pattern matching, the only real pattern I can find is the 1776 “election” (AKA the American Revolution). In other words, while 2016 still formally looked like politics, what is really going on here is a revolutionary war. For now this is war using memes rather than bullets, but war is much more than a metaphor.

This war is about much more than ideology, money or power. Even the participants likely do not fully understand the stakes. At a deep level, we are right in the middle of an existential conflict between two entirely different and incompatible ways of forming “collective intelligence”. This is a deep point and will likely be confusing. So I’m going to take it slow and below will walk through a series of “fronts” of the war that I see playing out over the next several years. This is a pretty tactical assessment and should make sense and be useful to anyone. I’ll get to the deep point last — and will be going way out there in an effort to grasp “what is really going on”. I’ll definitely miss wildly, but with any luck, the total journey will be worth the time.

The growing number of pilot projects and the continued discussion of a guaranteed livable income is another weak signal - of a change in conditions of change that may be the next requisite social platform for unleashing wealth creation - despite the likely delay that recent populist governments may cause.
What tends to go unrealized about the idea of basic income, and this is true even of many economists – but not all – is that it represents a net transfer. In the same way it does not cost $20 to give someone $20 in exchange for $10, it does not cost $3 trillion to give every adult citizen $12,000 and every child $4,000, when every household will be paying varying amounts of taxes in exchange for their UBI. Instead it will cost around 30% of that, or about $900 billion, and that’s before the full or partial consolidation of other programmes and tax credits immediately made redundant by the new transfer. In other words, for someone whose taxes go up $4,000 to pay for $12,000 in UBI, the cost to give that person UBI is $8,000, not $12,000, and it’s coming from someone else whose taxes went up $20,000 to pay for their own $12,000. However, even that’s not entirely accurate, because the consolidation of the safety net and tax code UBI allows could drive the total price even lower.

Why we should all have a basic income

Consider for a moment that from this day forward, on the first day of every month, around $1,000 is deposited into your bank account – because you are a citizen. This income is independent of every other source of income and guarantees you a monthly starting salary above the poverty line for the rest of your life.

What do you do? Possibly of more importance, what don’t you do? How does this firm foundation of economic security and positive freedom affect your present and future decisions, from the work you choose to the relationships you maintain, to the risks you take?

The idea is called unconditional or universal basic income, or UBI. It’s like social security for all, and it’s taking root within minds around the world and across the entire political spectrum, for a multitude of converging reasons. Rising inequality, decades of stagnant wages, the transformation of lifelong careers into sub-hourly tasks, exponentially advancing technology like robots and deep neural networks increasingly capable of replacing potentially half of all human labour, world-changing events like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump – all of these and more are pointing to the need to start permanently guaranteeing everyone at least some income.

This is a good article on the combination of self-driving cars and Blockchain technology exploring new forms of mass transportation - or maybe a transportation ‘commons’. The article signals the importance of rethinking what ownership mean - individual and corporate - a transportation commons could be collectively owned in a cooperative model - or as a municipal infrastructure.

Goodbye car ownership, hello clean air: welcome to the future of transport

In many ways, the motor vehicle has shaped modern society and the urban areas in which more than half of us live. But as global incomes rise, cars and trucks are choking these cities with deadly pollution and productivity-sapping traffic jams. More than a million people are killed in motor vehicle accidents each year, and many more are threatened by transportation’s contribution to global warming.

Imagine instead a world where fleets of autonomous vehicles that are electric and shared (FAVES) slash the number of vehicles on the road by as much as 90%. Hailing and paying for a ride or delivery is as easy as tapping a smartphone app. Car loans and insurance payments shrink or disappear because renting a vehicle when it would otherwise sit idle (or feeding electricity back to the electric grid) more than pays for it.

Perhaps best of all, imagine wider, less congested streets with more room for pedestrians and bicycles, clean air, much less global warming, shorter commutes, and even “crowd-funded” fleets of vehicles whose routing and pricing software is tuned to minimize energy use or provide low-cost transportation to underserved regions.

Speaking about the blockchain - here’s an article about the inevitable shift to a fully digital currency.

The US should get rid of cash and move to a digital currency, says this Nobel Laureate economist

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already removed 86% of his country's currency from circulation in an attempt to curb tax evasion, tackle corruption and shut down the shadow economy.
Should the US follow suit?

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist, thinks so. Phasing out currency and moving towards a digital economy would, over the long term, have “benefits that outweigh the cost,” the Columbia University professor said on day one of the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos.

Here’s another moment in the file of ‘Moore’s Law is Dead - Long Live Moore’s Law’.

Rebooting the molecular computer

The idea of using single molecules as key components in computers has been around for more than 40 years. What progress is it making?
The fuzzy sound of a distorted electric guitar is, for rock fans, a thing of beauty. It has been a staple of music since the early 1950s, when guitarists strained the vacuum tubes inside their amplifiers to match the raw voices of blues singers. Later generations relied on digital devices: “effects pedals” with circuits built from silicon diodes and transistors.

But last year, a completely new source of distortion hit the market—one that uses an electronic junction made from organic molecules J. Phys.: Condens. Matter 2016. Billed as the world’s first commercial device to rely on this form of “molecular electronics,” the Heisenberg Molecular Overdrive contains aromatic azo compounds strung between two electrodes just a few nanometers apart. This forms a molecular junction that only allows a current to flow once a threshold voltage is reached.
It is an unlikely pioneer in a field that once hoped to reinvent the computer.

More than four decades ago, researchers suggested that individual molecules could act as components in electronic circuits, potentially offering the ultimate in miniaturization. By the turn of the century, this vision was seemingly becoming a reality: Science magazine heralded the first molecular-scale circuits as their “Breakthrough of the Year” in 2001. And since then researchers have created a bewildering array of organic molecules and nanotubes that can act as diodes, transistors, and memory devices.

I have to admit I’m disappointed in the progress the memristor has made. It’s been a decade since HP labs discovered this anticipated new electronic component to the existing triad of capacitor, resistor and inductor - the memristor. This may have to do with the state of HP than the potential of the memristor. However - this too should be included in the file “Moore’s Law is Dead - Long Live Moore’s Law’.
Hewlett Packard has discovered it is very difficult to redesign computers and software to leverage the new capabilities of memristors. This is being done and could see systems that get close to realizing the close to the full potential of memristors in the 2020s

Memristor can do multistate processing as well as nonvolatile memory

Short of full blown molecular computers or universal quantum computers or optical computers memristors have the most potential for a hardware change to dramatically boost the power and capabilities of computers. The boost to computer power could be nearly a million times by fully leveraging memristors. It would likely be more like a thousand times with more near to mid term usage of memristors.

Memristors (aka ReRAM) could become computer memory that is over 10 times denser than Flash or DRAM in two dimensions. Memristors like flash would be nonvolatile memory that would not need power for retain memory. Memristors are created from nanowire lattices which could be stacked in three dimensions. Memristors have also previously been shown to behave like brain synapses which could be used for computer architectures that emulate the human brain for neuromorphic computing. Now there is work on multistate memristors that perform computation. This means that eventually processing and memory could be tightly integrated.

Light travels 30 centimeters in 1 nanosecond. Wires have an approximate propagation delay of 1 ns for every 6 inches (15 cm) of length. Logic gates can have propagation delays ranging from more than 10 ns down to the picosecond range, depending on the technology being used.

Memristors by allowing multiple state processing to live side by side with memory would vastly reduce latency and delays within computers. Memristors can also have more than binary (two) states.

And here’s another frontier that has potential to revolutionize memory storage.

Cool laser writes data in 20 trillionths of a second

It breaks data writing records, but the storage technique is still a long way off everyday use.
European researchers have unveiled a memory storage device that writes data 1,000 times faster than today’s hard drives while producing little heat.

Andrzej Stupakiewicz from the University of Bialystok in Poland and colleagues used precisely tuned laser pulses to store information on garnet crystal at blistering speeds with very little heat. The work was published in Nature.

Stupakiewicz’s team enlisted the help of lasers to write magnetic data bits too, but in a slightly different manner. Instead of using a high-temperature laser on a metal, they used polarised light to flip the magnetisation on points of a garnet material.

This is a great 35 min video of Sergei Brin at Davos talking about AI - feeling like the luddite in the room. Anyone really interested in fostering innovation in a large organization - should listen to this.

Davos 2017 - An Insight, An Idea with Sergey Brin

A conversation with Google founder Sergey Brin on leadership, entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This is a fascinating weak signal - of the looming potential of Big Data and machine learning. This is not quite ready for prime time - but soon could be applied across a spectrum of modalities - speech, gait, keyboarding and more - and not just the creation of metrics based on averages across many people but against a lifetime of one’s own behavior.
“Medical and psychiatric diagnosis will be more accurate when we have access to large amounts of biological and psychological data, including speech features,” Marmar says.
in 2015, a voice test developed by Marmar and his team was 77 percent accurate at distinguishing between PTSD patients and healthy volunteers in a study of 39 men. More voice recordings have been collected since that study, and Marmar and his colleagues are close to identifying speech patterns that can distinguish between PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Voice Analysis Tech Could Diagnose Disease

Researchers enlist smartphones and machine learning to find vocal patterns that might signal post-traumatic stress disorder or even heart disease.
Charles Marmar has been a psychiatrist for 40 years, but when a combat veteran steps into his office for an evaluation, he still can’t diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder with 100 percent accuracy.

“You would think that if a war fighter came into my office I’d be able to decide if they have PTSD or not. But what if they’re ashamed to tell me about their problems or they don’t want to lose their high-security clearance, or I ask them about their disturbing dreams and they say they’re sleeping well?” says Marmar.

Marmar, who is chairman of the department of psychiatry at New York University's Langone Medical Center, is hoping to find answers in their speech.
Voice samples are a rich source of information about a person’s health, and researchers think subtle vocal cues may indicate underlying medical conditions or gauge disease risk. In a few years it may be possible to monitor a person’s health remotely—using smartphones and other wearables—by recording short speech samples and analyzing them for disease biomarkers.

For psychiatric disorders like PTSD, there are no blood tests, and people are often embarrassed to talk about their mental health, so these conditions frequently go underdiagnosed. That’s where vocal tests could be useful.

As part of a five-year study, Marmar is collecting voice samples from veterans and analyzing vocal cues like tone, pitch, rhythm, rate, and volume for signs of invisible injuries like PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and depression. Using machine learning to mine features in the voice, algorithms pick out vocal patterns in people with these conditions and compare them with voice samples from healthy people.

Here’s another signal of the looming role of AI in medical diagnosis and in many other domains.

Machine Vision Helps Spot New Drug Treatments

A startup uses algorithms that understand the anatomy of cells to discover new uses for existing drugs.
Web users searching for photos and cops looking for suspects in video already benefit from software that understands the content of images. Chris Gibson says it can also make it easier to find treatments for diseases not targeted by existing drugs.

“By combining robotics and machine vision, we can work at large scale on hundreds of diseases simultaneously, using a small number of people,” says Gibson, who is CEO and cofounder of the 40-person startup Recursion Pharmaceuticals.

Recursion uses software to read out the results of high-throughput screening, which automates drug testing in cells. That isn’t a new idea, but Recursion uses algorithms that inspect cells at an unusual level of detail. The software measures a thousand features of a cell, such as the size and shape of its nucleus or the distance between different internal compartments.

In the company’s labs in Salt Lake City, automated microscopes feed image recognition software that scrutinizes hundreds of thousands of images each week of human cells modified to model genetic diseases. They’re watching for signs that one of the more than 2,000 compounds Recursion is testing on sick cells can make them look more like healthy ones.

This is a fascinating article - about one use of emerging AI. When I was young you had to go to where the music was - the radio, television, record player, live event. Today we can live within a field of music that can be wherever we are. Looming around the corner we may be able to live within our own unique, responsive sound track - living a life with a mood enhancer/manager. There quite a few short video examples. Worth the listen two are a combination of AI and human performances - lovely.
“We see our system as still in its infancy; it’s only learnt a certain amount about music,” Mr. Stobbs said, although he quickly hinted how he hoped Jukedeck’s music could advance: “There’s no rule of physics that says computers can’t get as good as a human.”

From Jingles to Pop Hits, A.I. Is Music to Some Ears

...countless researchers have pushed that work forward. But several start-ups are now trying to commercialize A.I. music for everything from jingles to potential pop hits. Jukedeck, for instance, is looking to sell tracks to anyone who needs background music for videos, games or commercials. The company charges large businesses just $21.99 to use a track, a fraction of what hiring a musician would cost. Mr. Stobbs wouldn’t reveal how many tracks it has sold, but said that the British division of Coca-Cola pays for a monthly subscription.

Jukedeck’s system involves feeding hundreds of scores into its artificial neural networks, which then analyze them so they can work out things like the probability of one musical note’s following another, or how chords progress. The networks can eventually produce compositions in a similar style, which are then turned into audio, using an automated production program. It has different networks for different styles, from folk to “corporate” — something that sounds like the glossy electronica typically played at business conferences. The company only recently started experimenting with the artificial neural networks for the audio output as well as the composition. This should make tracks sound more natural and varied — more human, in other words.

Marshall McLuhan noted that clothes extended our body as a second skin - we are getting close to another extension of our body through the clothes we wear.

'Knitted muscles' provide power

Researchers have coated normal fabric with an electroactive material, and in this way given it the ability to actuate in the same way as muscle fibres. The technology opens new opportunities to design "textile muscles" that could, for example, be incorporated into clothes, making it easier for people with disabilities to move. The study, which has been carried out by researchers at Linköping University and the University of Borås in Sweden, has been published in Science Advances.

Developments in robot technology and prostheses have been rapid, due to technological breakthroughs. For example, devices known as "exoskeletons" that act as an external skeleton and muscles have been developed to reinforce a person's own mobility.

"Enormous and impressive advances have been made in the development of exoskeletons, which now enable people with disabilities to walk again. But the existing technology looks like rigid robotic suits. It is our dream to create exoskeletons that are similar to items of clothing, such as "running tights" that you can wear under your normal clothes. Such device could make it easier for older persons and those with impaired mobility to walk," says Edwin Jager, associate professor at Division of Sensor and Actuator Systems, Linköping University.

In the new study, the researchers have instead used the advantages provided by lightweight and flexible fabrics, and developed what can be described as "textile muscles". The researchers have used mass-producible fabric and coated it with an electroactive material. It is in this special coating that the force in the textile muscles arises. A low voltage applied to the fabric causes the electroactive material to change volume, causing the yarn or fibres to increase in length. The properties of the textile are controlled by its woven or knitted structure. Researchers can exploit this principle, depending on how the textile is to be used.

Nanobots in the blood stream - a combination of AI, nano-biotech as a potential immune system augmentation - may not be that far away.

Engineers Have Created Biocompatible Microrobots That Can be Implanted Into the Human Body

Sam Sia, a Biomedical Engineering Professor at Columbia Engineering recently led a team that used biomaterials that can safely be implanted in the body to manufacture microscale-sized machines. Engineers have been studying hydrogels (biocompatible materials) for decades and Sia has used these to make devices that have freely moving, three-dimensional parts. He achieved this by inventing a new technique that stacks the soft material in layers.

The team developed a “locking mechanism” for precise movement and actuation of freely moving parts by taking advantage of the unique mechanical properties of hydrogels. This will provide functions such as manifolds, valves, pumps, rotors and drug delivery. The biomaterials were then tuned within a wide range of diffusive and mechanical properties. The team also managed to control them after implantation without having to use a sustained power supply such as a battery. Payload delivery was tested in a bone cancer model. The researchers found that triggering the release of doxorubicin from the device over a 10-day period resulted in high treatment efficacy. Toxicity was also found to be extremely low at 1/10 of the standard systemic chemotherapy dose.

More advances in the development of the mobile autonomous self-organizing automated drones.

A swarm of autonomous miniature underwater robot drifters for exploring submesoscale ocean dynamics

Measuring the ever-changing 3-dimensional (3D) motions of the ocean requires simultaneous sampling at multiple locations. In particular, sampling the complex, nonlinear dynamics associated with sub-mesoscales (< 1 - 10km) requires new technologies and approaches. Here we introduce the Mini-Autonomous Underwater Explorer (M-AUE), deployed as a swarm of 16 independent vehicles whose 3D trajectories are measured near-continuously, underwater. As the vehicles drift with the ambient flow or execute preprogrammed vertical behaviours, the simultaneous measurements at multiple, known locations resolve the details of the flow within the swarm. We describe the design, construction, control and underwater navigation of the M-AUE. A field programme in the coastal ocean using a swarm of these robots programmed with a depth-holding behaviour provides a unique test of a physical–biological interaction leading to plankton patch formation in internal waves. The performance of the M-AUE vehicles illustrates their novel capability for measuring submesoscale dynamics.

The cyborg is here - only it’s an insect - soon though combinations of domesticated DNA, implants and AI we will see new forms of hybrid life.

DragonflEye Project Wants to Turn Insects Into Cyborg Drones

As hard as we’re trying, it’s going to be a very long time before we’re able to build a robotic insect that’s anywhere near as capable or versatile as a real one. So for now, we rely on a cybernetics approach to get real insects to do our bidding instead. Over the past several years researchers have managed to steer large insects using electrical implants, a sort of brute-force method with limited real-world usefulness.

Now engineers at the R&D company Draper, based in Cambridge, Mass., are hoping to overcome those limitations by creating a cybernetic dragonfly that combines “miniaturized navigation, synthetic biology, and neurotechnology.” To steer the dragonflies, the Draper engineers are developing a way of genetically modifying the nervous system of the insects so they can respond to pulses of light. Once they get it to work, this approach, known as optogenetic stimulation, could enable dragonflies to carry payloads or conduct surveillance, or even help honey bees become better pollinators.

And new advances in 3D printing.
“The idea is that you could print a material and subsequently take that material and, using light, morph the material into something else, or grow the material further,” says Jeremiah Johnson, the Firmenich Career Development Associate Professor of Chemistry at MIT.

Technique enables adaptable 3-D printing

Once fabricated, objects can be altered by adding new polymers.
Three-dimensional printing technology makes it possible to rapidly manufacture objects by depositing layer upon layer of polymers in a precisely determined pattern. Once these objects are completed, the polymers that form the material are “dead” — that is, they cannot be extended to form new polymer chains.

MIT chemists have now developed a technique that allows them to print objects and then go back and add new polymers that alter the materials’ chemical composition and mechanical properties. The researchers can also fuse two or more printed objects together to form more complex structures.

This technique could greatly expand the complexity of objects that can be created with 3-D printing, says Johnson, the senior author of a paper describing the approach in the Jan. 13 issue of ACS Central Science. The paper’s lead authors are former MIT postdoc Mao Chen and graduate student Yuwei Gu.

For Fun?
This is a lovely 5 min animation of an interview with Stephen King - worth the view & listen.

Why the ‘exotic and strange’ world of childhood is ripe for horror

‘It’s a secret world that exists by its own rules and lives in its own culture.’
Using archival audio excerpted from a 1989 interview with Stephen King, this instalment of PBS’s animated Blank on Blank series features the horror fiction master discussing why his work combines the fantastical universe of childhood with the macabre realities of adulthood, and how effective horror preys on the practical fears ‘just outside the spotlight’ of reality.
There are many more such video here

Here’s a weak signal of a potential change in how we create space for socializing, generative community and productive creative activity.

At Repair Cafes, ‘Beloved but Broken’ Possessions Find New Life

Repair Cafe started in 2009 and spread across the Netherlands. Today, it has more than 1,100 sites in almost 30 countries
If you’ve ever despaired of getting your vacuum cleaner fixed or thought that your broken lamp was a lost cause, there’s hope. A worldwide movement is trying to reform our throwaway approach to possessions.

The movement’s foundation is the Repair Cafe, a local meeting place that brings together people with broken items and repair coaches, or volunteers, with the expertise to fix them.

The cafes have taken root in 11 states, including New York, where they are most prevalent in the Hudson Valley: Eight exist and more are on the way. John Wackman of Kingston, N.Y., who organized the cafe in New Paltz, N.Y., in 2013 and coordinates the others in the Hudson Valley, said the region was home to “people who are sustainability-minded” and have a “strong ethos of community.”

Organizers count as small victories any broken goods that can be repaired and kept out of the trash. In 2013, Americans generated about 254 million tons of garbage, including furniture, clothing and appliances, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

No comments:

Post a Comment