Thursday, January 26, 2017

Friday Thinking 27 Jan. 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


A transfixing audiovisual dive into varieties of emergence

Compasses over Maps
Detailed maps can be more misleading than useful in a fast-changing world, where a compass is the tool of choice. In the same way, organizations that plan exhaustively will be outpaced in an accelerating world by ones that are guided by a more encompassing mission.

A map implies a straightforward knowledge of the terrain, and the existence of an optimum route; the compass is a far more flexible tool and requires the user to employ creativity and autonomy in discovering his or her own path.

One advantage to the compass approach is that when a roadblock inevitably crops up, there is no need to go back to the beginning to form another plan or draw up multiple plans for each contingency. You simply navigate around the obstacle and continue in your chosen direction.

It is impossible, in any case, to make detailed plans for a complex and creative organization. The way to set a compass direction for a company is by creating a culture—or set of mythologies—that animates the parts in a common worldview.

Joi Ito - Principles for an Age of Acceleration

Just take a step back and look at the current battery of services provided by platforms, all of which were conceived in the last five-to-fifteen years: shopping (Amazon/Alibaba), media (Youtube, Netflix, Spotify), personal communication (Skype/Whatsapp/WeChat), cultural communication (Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat), transportation (Uber/Lyft), accommodations (Airbnb), dating (Tinder, OKCupid), classifieds and resale (Craigslist, eBay) investment (Wealthfront, Betterment) and even work (TaskRabbit, UpWork).

Whereas traditional organizations rely on rigid infrastructure that’s inordinately expensive to build and maintain, the rules, management and service provision of platforms are defined entirely by software. This makes them much easier to develop and launch, and orders of magnitude cheaper to run, scale, maintain and improve. Most platforms also create both sides of the markets that they enter, facilitating both supply and demand wherever they exist. The Airbnb app creates both lodgers and hosts, the TaskRabbit app both workers and their part-time employers.

Significantly, national borders are mostly irrelevant for platforms, which scale their membership networks across the known world simply through people downloading them onto their phones. The algorithmic matchmakers of Tinder and broadcasters of Netflix are replicated and distributed for free. And while Netflix and Uber and Airbnb spread quickly around the globe, they deliver services that can meet the individual context of every single user. Unlike a TV network or a retail store or a federal law, everybody’s Netflix queue and Amazon shopping lists are customized specifically to them and available everywhere at any hour.

This ability–to provide global access and localized personalization– is both the critical weakness of the current nation state and the table stakes for networked platforms. It’s why they’ve been so successful. Uber, founded in 2009, is already the third-largest private employer on the planet. Think about that for a second.

Another way of saying this: these platforms have already become too important to be managed entirely by individual companies.

And unlike nations, cities are inherently governable. They are large enough to implement meaningful system-wide policies, and small enough that residents can reasonably influence those policies through council hearings, mayoral elections, and local protest. And while only one-in-five Americans trust the federal government to make the right decisions, nearly three-quarters trust their local and city governments. Cities like New York and San Francisco have already pledged to use the many means at their disposal to protect against unwanted federal policies during the Trump administration.

Now imagine this: take a white label version of your favorite platform, and restructure it as a city service, or a private/public partnership. The contracts and negotiations for how gig workers are hired and paid now become subject to the regulations of the city, which are subject to the democratic will of the city residents. The app’s profit, once vacuumed back to the corporate mothership, is now a form of direct revenue for the city. Like a state lottery, every rideshare and guestroom hotel becomes a direct investment in your favorite public good: education, healthcare, poverty eradication, childcare.

Now imagine the full suite of publicly owned matching services relevant to the domain of the city: transportation, accommodations, up-skilling, task-routing, job-matching. Add to this the platform services that are just now emerging, and that will represent the next wave of platform innovation over the coming decade: urban agriculture, food waste re-use, micro-certification of job skills, community health, citizen journalism.
The Internet of Cities, and a new framework for social innovation.

The Near-Term Future of Democracy & Civic Innovation: The Internet of Cities

The Blockchain continues its emergence.
... the central bank has concluded that blockchain is indeed a disruptive technology that can potentially revolutionise the financial industry. The successful proof of concept could pave the way for further in-depth research into a wide range of potential applications in the sector.

Reserve Bank of India Successfully Tests Blockchain Technology

The Indian central bank recently tested Bitcoin’s underlying blockchain technology. The Reserve Bank of India’s research arm is said to be involved in its first ever end-to-end test of the technology along with other stakeholders of the country’s financial system.

Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology (IDRBT), the Reserve Bank’s research arm has worked closely with the regulators, banks, financial institutions and clearing houses during the evaluation process. MonetaGo, a New York-based cryptocurrency firm served as a technology partner during the study.

The adoption of blockchain technology among stock exchanges and trade platforms is increasing. The potential of blockchain technology to automate trade settlements and transactions can prove to be a huge cost saver for financial institutions. Even Reserve Bank of India’s experiment involved the use of blockchain in a trade application and the results are now available in a white paper titled “Applications of blockchain technology in banking and financial sector in India”.

Maybe some might not think that India’s adoption of the Blockchain is a serious test - this may be more convincing.

Wall Street Moves to Adopt Blockchain Tech by 2018

The DTCC announced it will replace one of its central databases with a distributed ledger similar to Bitcoin's blockchain, with plans to have it fully functional by early 2018.

Wall Street's transition to blockchain is a testament to the perceived value of the technology, which allows for faster and more secure financial transactions.

Wall Street is finally ready to bet big on blockchain technology. Many of the world’s largest banks have already moved a sizable segment of their financial infrastructure onto blockchains, and now Wall Street is following suit, according to Monday’s announcement by the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), which serves as the backend for a significant portion of Wall Street trading.

The DTCC said that it’s replacing one of its central databases with a distributed ledger similar to Bitcoin’s blockchain. This ledger will be powered by IBM together with financial blockchain startups Axoni and R3. It will allow multiple financial institutions to view and update transactions at the same time. The DTCC aims to have it fully functional by early 2018.

This is one possible alternative use of the Blockchain. I’m not convinced this is the long-term solution - but as long as there is differences in who can access who using our personal data, for what purposes - this may serve as an interim form of leveling the playing field.
“We’re living in a time period where the new incumbents like Amazon, Google, and Facebook have firmly established themselves, and are near monopolists in their markets,” says Wenger. “If we want a long-term, open playing field for innovation, we’re going to need new, decentralized infrastructure.”

One Startup’s Vision to Reinvent the Web for Better Privacy

Blockstack’s system would let you control your own personal data—for example, by revoking a site’s access to it.
Blockstack received $4 million in funding from USV and others this month to try to establish that more open playing field. The startup is working on open-source software that will create a kind of parallel universe to the Web we know—one where users have more control of their data.

Later this year, Blockstack will release software that lets you surf sites and apps created for this new digital domain using your existing Web browser. You will still be able to load sites by clicking links or typing Web addresses, perhaps to find places to chat with friends or go shopping. But instead of needing to create accounts with each site, as people do with Google or Facebook, users of sites built on Blockstack’s system will control their own digital identity (or identities). To use a site that needs your information, you will grant access to a profile under your control alone. If you want to stop using a service, you can revoke its access to your profile and data and take it elsewhere. Sites will run all their code on your computer, in the browser.

Blockstack’s vision is made possible by an identity system built to be independent of any one company, including the startup itself. It uses the digital ledger, or blockchain, underpinning the digital currency Bitcoin to track usernames and associated encryption keys that allow a person to control his or her data and identity. A collective of thousands of computers around the globe maintains the blockchain, and no one entity controls it.

Blockstack’s system uses the blockchain to record domain names, too, meaning there’s no need for an equivalent to ICANN, the body that oversees Web domains today. Software built on top of the name and ID systems gives people control over the data they let online services use. Microsoft is already collaborating with Blockstack to explore uses for its platform.

It seems that the AC-DC (not the band) wars of Edison and Tesla are not over.

Electricity now flows across continents, courtesy of direct current

Transmitting power over thousands of kilometres requires a new electricity infrastructure
Oklahoma’s wind electricity is to be exported. Later this year, lawsuits permitting, work will begin on a special cable, 1,100km (700 miles) long, between the panhandle and the western tip of Tennessee. There, it will connect with the Tennessee Valley Authority and its 9m electricity customers. The Plains and Eastern Line, as it is to be known, will carry 4,000MW. That is almost enough electricity to power Greater London. It will do so using direct current (DC), rather than the alternating current (AC) that electricity grids usually employ. And it will run at a higher voltage than such grids use—600,000 volts, rather than 400,000.

This long-distance ultra-high-voltage direct-current (UHVDC) connector will be the first of its kind in America. But the problem it helps with is pressing everywhere. Fossil fuels can be carried to power stations far from mines and wells, if necessary, but where wind, solar and hydroelectric power are generated is not negotiable. And even though fossil fuels can be moved, doing so is not desirable. Coal, in particular, is costly to transport. It is better to burn it at the pithead and transport the electricity thus generated instead.

Transmitting power over thousands of kilometres, though, requires a different sort of technology from the AC now used to transmit it tens or hundreds of kilometres through local grids. And in China, Europe and Brazil, as well as in Oklahoma, a new kind of electrical infrastructure is being built to do this. Some refer to the results as DC “supergrids”.

If anyone wants a clear signal that coal is dead - this should provide that.

China suspends 104 planned coal power plants

The Chinese government is taking dramatic steps in order to comply with the coal capacity target laid out in its latest Five Year Plan.

The National Energy Administration has announced that 104 planned and under-construction coal power projects – with a total capacity of 120GW – have been suspended.

Around 54GW of suspended capacity comes from projects already under construction.
And that’s just in 13 provinces. More suspensions to come to light, and will update this piece if that happens.

In the electricity chapter of the 13th Five Year Plan, Beijing committed to a coal capacity cap of 1,100GW — which is still a sizeable increase on the 920GW capacity the country currently has.
But the number of coal power projects in the pipeline would have taken that figure to 1250GW.

Hence this raft of suspensions.
In the last year China has grappled with a coal overcapacity crisis, and has taken a number of steps and introduced several policies designed to tackle it.

This is an interesting development - bridging electricity with a fuel - which may to able to leverage existing infrastructure more easily.
“The world of energy is transforming very, very fast,” Shell CEO Ben Van Beurden said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. “Hydrogen has massive potential.”

Toyota, Shell Among Giants Betting $10.7 Billion on Hydrogen

Toyota Motor Corp. and four of its biggest car-making peers are joining oil and gas giants including Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Total SA with plans to invest a combined 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion) in hydrogen-related products within five years.

In all, 13 energy, transport and industrial companies are forming a hydrogen council to consult with policy makers and highlight its benefits to the public as the world seeks to switch from dirtier energy sources, according to a joint statement issued from Davos, Switzerland. The wager demonstrates that batteries aren’t the only way to reduce pollution from cars, homes and utilities that are contributing to climate change.

Fuel cell vehicles are a cornerstone of Toyota’s plan to rid 90 percent of carbon dioxide emissions from its vehicles by 2050. The automaker has long contended it’s more likely to convince consumers to use gasoline-electric hybrids and fuel cell vehicles rather than battery-electric autos, which tend to have less driving range and take longer to recharge than filling up with gasoline or hydrogen.

This is happening faster than expected. Not quite there yet - but I think it is safe to say that by 2020 we enter a very different world.

Illumina wants to sequence your whole genome for $100

The first sequencing of the whole human genome in 2003 cost roughly $2.7 billion, but DNA sequencing giant Illumina has now unveiled a new machine that the company says is “expected one day” to order up your whole genome for less than $100.

Illumina’s CEO Francis deSouza showed off the machine, called the NovaSeq, onstage at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in downtown San Francisco today, telling the crowd the machine’s scanning speed could decipher an entire human genome in less than an hour.

Let that sink in. In less than 15 years we went from what once took billions of dollars and over a decade of research to an hour’s worth of time with the promise of a blip of the cost.

But the price for genome sequencing has been in continuous free fall since the beginning. In 2006, Illumina’s first machine could sequence a human genome for $300,000, and in 2014 the company announced it could do the same thing for $1,000.

llumina’s new machine is meant to be a lower-priced device and comes in two models — NovaSeq 5000 for $850,000 and the NovaSeq 6000 for $985,000.

Six customers have already come on board to test NovaSeq, including the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub (the life sciences arm started by Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan), the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and biotech companies Regeneron and Human Longevity Inc. DeSouza also confirmed each company had put in a purchase order for the new machine.

But Illumina doesn’t have its device down to $100 a pop just yet. And it will still take some time to interpret the data. Of course, the rapid adoption of AI may help speed things up a bit there, and the mind-boggling reduction in price to get this genetic information is exciting.

This may be somewhat premature - but it does signal ongoing advances in the domestication of DNA and prolonging human lifetimes.
"Telomeres represent the clock of a cell," said TSRI Associate Professor Eros Lazzerini Denchi, corresponding author of the new study, published online today in the journal Science. "You are born with telomeres of a certain length, and every time a cell divides, it loses a little bit of the telomere. Once the telomere is too short, the cell cannot divide anymore."

Scientists discover master regulator of cellular aging

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered a protein that fine-tunes the cellular clock involved in aging.

This novel protein, named TZAP, binds the ends of chromosomes and determines how long telomeres, the segments of DNA that protect chromosome ends, can be. Understanding telomere length is crucial because telomeres set the lifespan of cells in the body, dictating critical processes such as aging and the incidence of cancer.

In this new study, the researcher found that TZAP controls a process called telomere trimming, ensuring that telomeres do not become too long.

"This protein sets the upper limit of telomere length," explained Lazzerini Denchi. "This allows cells to proliferate—but not too much."

A good week for the aging - here’s another development.
“At the end of the day, nobody wants blood transfusions,” says Yousef. “We want rejuvenating proteins and antibodies to help people age in a healthy manner.” She is patenting her compound, and hopes to develop a treatment to protect people from the effects of ageing.

Antibody can protect brains from the ageing effects of old blood

Old blood may have a powerful effect, damaging organs and contributing to ageing. Now a compound has been developed that seems to protect against this, preventing mice’s brains from ageing.

The effects of blood on ageing were first discovered in experiments that stitched young and old mice together so that they shared circulating blood. Older mice seem to benefit from such an arrangement, developing healthier organs and becoming protected from age-related disease. But young mice aged prematurely.

Such experiments suggest that, while young blood can be restorative, there is something in old blood that is actively harmful. Now Hanadie Yousef at Stanford University in California seems to have identified a protein that is causing some of the damage, and has developed a way to block it.

Yousef has found that the amount of a protein called VCAM1 in the blood increases with age. In people over the age of 65, the levels of this protein are 30 per cent higher than in under-25s.

Another significant step in the domestication of DNA.
“We are hoping that this may be a first step toward a truly off-the-shelf stem cell product that would enable people to receive beneficial stem cell therapies when they’re needed, without costly delays,” Cheng says.
“The synthetic cells operate much the same way a deactivated vaccine works,” Cheng says. “Their membranes allow them to bypass the immune response, bind to cardiac tissue, release the growth factors and generate repair, but they cannot amplify by themselves. So you get the benefits of stem cell therapy without risks.”

Synthetic Stem Cells Could Offer Therapeutic Benefits, Reduced Risks

Researchers from North Carolina State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University have developed a synthetic version of a cardiac stem cell. These synthetic stem cells offer therapeutic benefits comparable to those from natural stem cells and could reduce some of the risks associated with stem cell therapies. Additionally, these cells have better preservation stability and the technology is generalizable to other types of stem cells.

Stem cell therapies work by promoting endogenous repair; that is, they aid damaged tissue in repairing itself by secreting “paracrine factors,” including proteins and genetic materials. While stem cell therapies can be effective, they are also associated with some risks of both tumor growth and immune rejection. Also, the cells themselves are very fragile, requiring careful storage and a multi-step process of typing and characterization before they can be used.

The synthetic stem cells are much more durable than human stem cells, and can tolerate harsh freezing and thawing. They also don’t have to be derived from the patient’s own cells. And the manufacturing process can be used with any type of stem cell.

This is an interesting mathematical model development - an effort to formalize the sense of how patterns of innovation unfold - by addressing Stuart Kaufman’s ‘Adjacent Possibles’.

Mathematical Model Reveals the Patterns of How Innovations Arise

The work could lead to a new approach to the study of what is possible, and how it follows from what already exists.
Innovation is one of the driving forces in our world. The constant creation of new ideas and their transformation into technologies and products forms a powerful cornerstone for 21st century society. Indeed, many universities and institutes, along with regions such as Silicon Valley, cultivate this process.

Today, all that changes thanks to the work of Vittorio Loreto at Sapienza University of Rome in Italy and a few pals, who have created the first mathematical model that accurately reproduces the patterns that innovations follow. The work opens the way to a new approach to the study of innovation, of what is possible and how this follows from what already exists.

The notion that innovation arises from the interplay between the actual and the possible was first formalized by the complexity theorist Stuart Kauffmann. In 2002, Kauffmann introduced the idea of the “adjacent possible” as a way of thinking about biological evolution.

The adjacent possible is all those things—ideas, words, songs, molecules, genomes, technologies and so on—that are one step away from what actually exists. It connects the actual realization of a particular phenomenon and the space of unexplored possibilities.

But this idea is hard to model for an important reason. The space of unexplored possibilities includes all kinds of things that are easily imagined and expected but it also includes things that are entirely unexpected and hard to imagine. And while the former is tricky to model, the latter has appeared close to impossible.

Well it’s only the beginning of 2017 - and already the number of trials of emerging around the world is more than I ever expected.

Self-driving cars are coming to London: Nissan will tests its driverless vehicles in the capital next month

Passengers will be able to experience the technology in a modified Nissan LEAF
This will be the first time Nissan has tested self-driving cars in Europe
The firm has been using self-driving vehicles as tow-vehicles in its production facility in Japan since December
In a bid to keep up with its rivals including Tesla and Google, Nissan has announced its plans to bring real-world demonstrations of autonomous vehicles to the UK.

The on-road demonstrations will take place in London in February, where passengers will be able to experience the technology in a modified Nissan LEAF.

The demonstrations mark the first time Nissan's autonomous drive technology will be showcased on public roads in Europe.

This is interesting for a number of reasons both for next generation military air capabilities - but also as a weak signal toward the long prophesied ‘flying car’. A self-driving flying car would not require trained pilots or drivers with piloting licenses. There’s a 4 min video.
“In Phase 2, we exceeded our original program objectives with two performers, Sikorsky and Aurora Flight Sciences, each of which conducted flight tests on two different aircraft.” The next phase of development looks to bring the system to seven more types of aircraft, including fixed-wing, and rotary propelled vehicles. “In Phase 3, we plan to further enhance ALIAS’ ability to respond to contingencies, decrease pilot workload, and adapt to different missions and aircraft types,” says Wierzbanowski. Given the extensive strides the first two phases of the project have made, it may not be too much longer before we see the technology deployed.

DARPA’s Latest Tech May Make Human Pilots a Thing of the Past

DARPA is developing a tailorable, drop-in, removable kit that would promote the addition of high levels of automation into existing aircraft, enabling operation with reduced onboard crew.

Last month, the system was successfully tested in three different models of military aircraft, a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter, a Diamond DA-42 aircraft, and two Cessna 208 Caravan aircraft.

While future pilots of these planes may be relegated to other tasks on the aircraft, other workers whose jobs are being taken over by automation do not share the same luxury. Some reports indicate that seven percent of all jobs in the United States could be lost to automation. Not only does this include low-skill manufacturing jobs but also professions in the fields of law and even medicine.

Did I just mention flying cars? No sooner had I chosen the article above than this article showed up.
Flying cars may still seem outlandish and primarily the province of science fiction, but helicopter-maker Airbus actually believes that they’d be ignoring the category at their peril, given the pace and progress of technology that can help make it possible, including autonomous driving systems and electric battery tech.

Airbus plans to test self-driven airborne taxi by the end of 2017

Airbus is not kidding around about flying cars – the maker of airborne transportation vehicles plans to test out a prototype self-flying small urban transport made for single-passenger travel by the end of this year, according to Airbus CEO Tom Enders (via Reuters). Airbus has been developing its autonomous vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) concept through Project Vahana, an internal project designed to test viability and refine a prototype for urban air transport.

The project is something that Airbus takes “very seriously,” Enders told the DLD tech conference in Munich on Monday, noting that airborne transit for goods and individual passengers would actually be tremendously beneficial in terms of alleviating urban congestion, and reconfiguring how urban planners think about designing cities.

Vahana aims to have a viable production urban aircraft for short-haul trips available by 2021, and so actual prototype tests by the end of this year make sense given those timelines. In fact, the company previously said it was hoping to field a full-scale prototype sometime in 2017, so it looks like Enders is still committed to keeping his company to that timeline, including active flight testing.

The vehicle will likely use a four-rotor design with variable positioning possible to help with vertical take off, and then shift for propelling the craft through the air. The design process is taking into account what’s feasible and most efficient, given requirements like an electric motor, which Airbus is focusing on so that a fleet of the vehicles, once deployed, will not actually have a worse ecological impact than ground-based transportation in terms of contributing to air pollution.

I recently received my less than $100 3D printer - a 101HERO - that was born through a Kickstarter campaign (yes I supported it). It is very easy - but did take some tinkering to get going - and doing custom models that some software knowhow (and artistic capability). But to take this sort of weak signal to mainstream - here’s a development to keep an eye on. The key trajectory - is the combination of ‘foot scanning’ and delivering a custom made shoe to your door in days …. Or less.

New Adidas 'Speedfactories' will start making 3D printed shoes this year

Over the past couple of years, German sportswear brand Adidas has become increasingly recognized as a company that is not scared to push boundaries. By exploring new manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing, and by partnering with eco-minded organizations such as Parley, Adidas has emerged on the front line of a changing manufacturing landscape. Recently, the company made further inroads into new manufacturing terrains with the announcement of its new “Speedfactories,” which the company is opening in Germany and the United States.

Adidas’ first Speedfactory, which will soon open in Ansbach, Germany, will be the site of many new manufacturing processes, including 3D printing, computerized knitting, and robotic cutting. Its goal? To bring Adidas manufacturing back to Germany, and to open the doors for a new approach to footwear manufacturing.

Outsourcing difficulties are not the only reasons Adidas has made the step towards more technological and local production, however, as the company explains that shorter production times and more simplified supply chains are needed in order to keep up with consumer demand. Gerd Manz, head of technology innovation at Adidas, explained, “The way our business operates is probably the opposite of what consumers desire.”

By contrast, production at the Speedfactory will be able to supply stores with sneakers and sports shoes in under a week. According to the company, the production cycle could even be as short as one day, once the design is finalized. The shortened cycle is largely owed to new digital technologies which not only allow shoes to be digitally designed, but can also test and simulate the models.

This is a great animation of the growth of human population beginning from about 200,000 years ago - 7min - worth the view.

Watch the human population skyrocket in 200 years

For millennia, the population of the Earth trundled along at a pretty even rate. But then came the Industrial Revolution ...
It took 200,000 years for the human population to reach a billion – and only 200 years to reach seven billion.
But growth has slowed as women have fewer babies on average. So when will our global population peak?
The American Museum of Natural History's animation chronicles human population over time. See the slight downward blip, thanks to the bubonic plague, and growth accelerate during the Industrial Revolution.

This is an interesting concept for anyone interested in diversity in the workplace or in society. While I know I’m an introvert - after working with my spectrum daughter for many years - I wonder how many adults are on the spectrum - potential understanding themselves as ‘introverts’ but definitely feeling the stress of having to don camouflage everyday - and in fact how many other ‘invisible disabilities’ undergo the stress of continual camouflage.
“Camouflaging seems to be something that a lot of autistic people feel they’re doing a lot of the time, but nobody had really gone about finding a way to actually measure it,” says William Mandy, senior lecturer in clinical psychology at University College London. Mandy was not involved in this study, but is collaborating with Lai on another study of the behavior. “This is an interesting start on what is going to be a big topic, which is mapping the costs and benefits of camouflaging,” Mandy says.

New method aims to quantify ‘camouflaging’ in autism

A combination of multiple diagnostic tests may gauge the extent to which adults with autism mimic the behavior of people not on the spectrum1. Both sexes engage in such ‘camouflaging,’ but women do so more than men, the study found.

“If you have a range of autism characteristics inside, but you don’t show it outside by your external behavior, that can be defined as showing camouflaging,” says lead researcher Meng-Chuan Lai, assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

In the new study, published 29 November in Autism, researchers combined several diagnostic tests to quantify the chasm between how an individual acts and her true inclinations and abilities.

Camouflaging may help people with autism maintain jobs and relationships, but many of them say it takes an emotional toll. The new work may help scientists better understand the behavior’s fallout.

For Fun
This is a 4 min animation of wonder - patterns of emergence - a lovely experience.

A transfixing audiovisual dive into varieties of emergence

A collaboration between the UK-based electronic musician Max Cooper and the French motion graphics artist Maxime Causeret, Order from Chaos features an experimental soundtrack inspired by the concept of emergence accompanied by mesmerising representations of emergent systems, including the cooperation of simple cells, swarm behaviour and Alan Turing’s proposed mathematical theory of embryology.