President Barack Obama's video/web overture to the Iranian people marks not only a strategic shift in U.S. policy toward the country, but also a fundamental change in tactics better-suited for an increasingly connected world.
Now let's see how Iranian leaders Mahmoud Ahmanadinejad and the Ayotollah respond.
By helping us to climb the stairs of abstraction, user-friendly immersive data visualization (ie, geospatial data mapping) is poised to become one of the more significant near-term drivers of accelerating human inteligence and economics. Leading the charge is the small but robust company Green Phosphor, core participants in the progressive and under-recognized Second Life DataViz Group, which is laying down the foundations for Matrix-esque search: "I need guns, lots of guns."
Color me impressed by Green Phosphor's newest release, Glasshouse (demo vid below - don't worry, better graphics are on the way), which converts raw binary data into interactive 3d models. As indicated by the hire of a molecular biologist as Chief Scientist, the company is gearing up to monetize by applying this technology to the medical domains such as genomics and drug discovery.
As CEO Ben Lindquist points out, "The immersive 3d environment creates an entirely new paradigm for business intelligence and process modelling." More specifically, I'd argue that it marks a Meta-System Transition, or topsight leap, in our ability to process then interact with a variety of systems.
Edging out the forthcoming Singularity Movie (not to be confused with this web version), here comes Transcendent Man, a new documentary film that portrays Ray Kurzweil and his vision of a, well, transcendent future for mankind. The film appears to be packed with star-power and will debut at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC this April. The trailer below indicates 1) a focus on universal human transcension (a positive expansion of human perspective, imho), and 2) an attempt at objective framing by allowing in some critical voices, but none of the heavy hitters - appears to be mostly straw men. While I am optimistic the film will represent a socially necessary forward push of philosophical futurism, many futurists and I will ultimately judge this work on its analytical and objective qualities. That said, I'm hoping it delivers and eagerly await its broader release (probably via a cable network).
Some choice excerpts from the producer's press release:
Human beings have mastered the brute-force era of ‘energy by engineering’ where we’ve pulled stored energy from the Earth locked up as coal, oil and natural gas. But we are just beginning to achieve a more Zen-like ability to manipulate molecules that we harness and store ourselves.
Energy is about the interaction of molecules. And the way human beings can create cleaner energy interactions is by designing materials at the nanoscale to achieve unprecedented performance. Surface area is a key piece to this puzzle.
One Gram = One Football Field = How many molecules? Now, imagine holding a material in your hand that was made up of tiny nano-sized ‘cages’ that could hold gas molecules like hydrogen and carbon. Now imagine a gram of this material having the surface area of a football field. How many hydrogen or carbon molecules could you fit in that space? We don't yet know what practical storage systems might yield. This is a big question for energy researchers.
A research team led by University of Michigan’s Adam Matzger has created a novel nanoporous material known as UMCM-2 (University of Michigan Crystalline Material-2) that could claim the world record for surface area with more than 5,000 square meters per gram.
"Surface area is an important, intrinsic property that can affect the behavior of materials in processes ranging from the activity of catalysts to water detoxification to purification of hydrocarbons," Matzger said. That means we can design high surface area materials to scrub carbon leaving cleaner hydrogen bonds, or desalinate water using less energy.
Until recently the threshold for surface area was 3,000 square meters per gram. Then in 2004, a U-M team that included Matzger reported development of a material known as MOF-177 (metal-organic frameworks) that has the surface area of a football field.
"Pushing beyond that point has been difficult," Matzger said, but apparently not impossible using a new method of coordination copolymerization. If it's hard to get your head around, just think: Building Legos wth Molecules! That's a Big Idea!
It's part of human nature to label, classify, and quantify the world around us. We feel empowered when we're able to create structure and meaning out of our surroundings. Maps have been used for thousands of years to that end; enabling us to plot a course, make informed decisions of paths to take, and decide which trajectory will give us desired results. In today's modern culture, digital media has taken mapping to a whole new level, giving us the ability to visualize our world in 3D, and on a global scale
So what do maps have to do with social change?
Potentially, everything. A map is a tool, and historically those that have the best maps win. Several digital and social media tools are in the process of converging to create unprecedented platforms for sharing information in real-time. Whereas software like Google Earth allowed us to visualize on a macro scale, these new tools map information on local levels. GPS software, location based tracking, souveillance, and geotagging are coming together to produce information-rich maps that can be visualized in both space and time. Powered by social media, a space is being created where real-time maps can be used to empower communities to connect and collaborate instantaneously.
Google's announcement that they are now openly beta-testing "interest-based advertising" confirms that the near-term future of web advertising will involve tapping into your behavior and interest graph.
To date, we have shown ads based mainly on what your interests are at a specific moment. So if you search for [digital camera] on Google, you'll get ads related to digital cameras. ... We think we can make online advertising even more relevant and useful by using additional information about the websites people visit. Today we are launching "interest-based" advertising as a beta test on our partner sites and on YouTube. These ads will associate categories of interest — say sports, gardening, cars, pets — with your browser, based on the types of sites you visit and the pages you view. We may then use those interest categories to show you more relevant text and display ads.
There is no doubt that this will make for a more interesting and valuable advertising experience, while also boosting Google's bottom line by cutting out advertising inefficiencies. It is also clear that allowing Google to pair your behavioral data with your ad click data will open up a new frontier of behavioral data mining that will further fuel the Google system and lead to additional advances in search, understanding online behavioral modes, and advertising strategies.
Of course, the inexorable move to personal data integration (Facebook and Twitter are hard at work on similar initiatives and will be the next to jump into the data+search game - credit card, shopping club, and survey companies have been doing this for years) into one big-ass socio-behavioral graph pushes to the forefront a host of privacy, transparency, data control, and general social issues/questions that have been mustering force.
The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy recently announced that the city of Nagpur, Maharashtra will become the country's first solar city by the year 2012. Nagpur will receive ten percent of its energy consumption through renewable energy sources and will also create a foundation for a future Smart Electrical Grid.
Nagpur is the first of sixty solar cities to be developed over the course of five years.
The Ministry explains its reasons for wanting to create a solar city, "To meet the peak electricity demand of cities, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and expensive oil and gas for energy and to promote increased use of renewable energy, this scheme has been developed."
The ministry will fund half of the total costs, 190 million rupees ($3.7 million), with the state government paying the rest.
Creating a solar city will result in the major restructuring with the use of multiple solar applications. The street lights, traffic lights, and so on will be based on solar energy system. Solar water heaters will also be installed.
Planet Earth is about to get its own version of the Web!
Cisco Systems is partnering with NASA to create a massive online collaborative global monitoring platform called the "Planetary Skin" to capture, collect, analyze and report data on environmental conditions around the world, while also providing researchers social web services for collaboration.
This type of platform is essential for Climate and Ecosystem researchers, but it also might be a sneak peak at the future of the Internet.
'Smart Planet': Age of Sensors & Structured Data If life in the past few decades has been forever altered by complex microprocessor chips, the next century could see the same social disruption via simple, low cost networked sensors and 'embedded objects' that mirror a digital signal of our analog world. But making this disconnected data relevant is a challenge.
The 'Planetary Skin' platform [video] will stitch together 'petabytes' of unstructured data collected by sensors (land, sea, air, space) reporting on changing environmental conditions. The platform will also allow for 'streamlining of decision making' and 'collaborative swarming' on analysis of relevant data. The project's first layer, “Rainforest Skin,” will be prototyped during 2009.
Good for NASA, Great for Cisco, and Wonderful for 'Mirror World' Metaverse Enthusiasts The benefits to NASA and Planetary system researchers is clear. Forget about Facebook, these scientists are looking for a functional digital research simulation 'Mirror World' (as envisioned by David Gelertner).
Meanwhile, Cisco is working diligently to make itself the most relevant web company in the next era of Internet architecture where collaboration, video, 3D simulations and structured data change the nature of our interactions. 'Planetary Skin' might be Cisco Systems under the radar, but out in the open effort of essentially building its own Internet of Tomorrow.
This week, researchers from Canada and Scotland made a major advancement in the field of stem cell biology. They discovered a method to successfully reprogram somatic cells into stem cells without the use of viruses.
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are a type of stem cells derived from adult somatic cells by forcing expression of genes shown to sufficiently reprogram somatic cells into stem cells. iPSCs have been shown to possess key characteristics of embryonic stem cells (ESCs), the most important of which is the ability to give rise to cells of all three germ layers. iPSCs are an ideal source of stem cells because they circumvent the need for human embryos to generate stem cells. Additionally, because they can be generated from one’s own somatic cells which are readily available, iPSCs can be used for patient-specific therapies, thereby reducing the risk of immune rejection.
21st Century Growth Platforms Growth has nothing to do with moving beyond oil, or finding better ways to sell 'new' cars. In fact, we must get over this notion of a 'new' car industry model. What other industry manufactures a $20,000-60,000 product without a pre-arranged buyer?
Growth has everything to do with:
1) Reducing 'Manufacturing Footprint' Lowering costs by moving beyond the combustion engine manufacturing platform towards modular electric drive trains powered by the integration of batteries, fuel cells and capacitors.
2) Software Services & After Market Shifting revenues towards the software-service side of the driving experience, and physical 'after market' design upgrades. GM should profit 'per mile', not 'per vehicle'. Dealerships need customers that buy some new upgrade every month, not one vehicle every few years.
3) Rebranding as a Mobility Service Company Why should GM be limited to a brand for personal vehicle ownership? Develop new categories of mobilty products (e.g. personal urban vehicles). Integrate products and services into a broader 'mobility services' sector that blends private and public transit options. (Realize you aren't in the 'new car' business, but in mobility services)
Many of GM's leaders like Sr VP Larry Burns, (Mr. 'Skateboard kills Car') understand this new reality, and I wish they'd be more public about a new vision for mobility and jumpstart this multi-decade long transition. I'm not talking about an 'ad campaign', but a clearly stated vision that inspires the next generation of mobility industry entrepreneurs.
Fixated on Building better 'Buggy Whips' (and Related Posts)
Platelet Rich Plasma Treatment is making its way into the sports medical profession. It's pretty straight-forward and basically takes a person's own blood, separates the red blood cells and the plasma and takes the resultant concentration of platelets and injects them back into an injury site to promote quicker healing. Hines Ward's (Pittsburgh Steelers) recovery from a sprained medial collateral ligament in time to play in last month's Super Bowl brought attention to this new technique.
This type of treatment bodes well for faster healing from injury and possibly greater performance too but raises ethical questions in the world of professional sports.