12
Feb, 2013

From Scientific American:

The number of smartphones, tablets and other network-connected gadgets will outnumber humans by the end of the year. Perhaps more significantly, the faster and more powerful mobile devices hitting the market annually are producing and consuming content at unprecedented levels. Global mobile data grew 70 percent in 2012, according to a recent report from Cisco, which makes a lot of the gear that runs the Internet. Yet the capacity of the world’s networking infrastructure is finite, leaving many to wonder when we will hit the upper limit, and what to do when that happens.

There are ways to boost capacity of course, such as adding cables, packing those cables with more data-carrying optical fibers and off-loading traffic onto smaller satellite networks, but these steps simply delay the inevitable. The solution is to make the infrastructure smarter. Two main components would be needed: computers and other devices that can filter their content before tossing it onto the network, along with a network that better understands what to do with this content, rather than numbly perceiving it as an endless, undifferentiated stream of bits and bytes.

To find out how these major advances could be accomplished, Scientific American recently spoke with Markus Hofmann, head of Bell Labs Research in New Jersey, the research and development arm of Alcatel–Lucent that, in its various guises, is credited with developing the transistor, the laser, the charge-coupled device and a litany of other groundbreaking 20th-century technologies. Hofmann and his team see “information networking” as the way forward, an approach that promises to extend the Internet’s capacity by raising its IQ.

….
How do we know we are approaching the limits of our current telecom infrastructure?
The signs are subtle, but they are there. A personal example—When I use Skype to send my parents in Germany live video of my kids playing hockey, the video sometimes freezes at the most exciting moments. In all, this doesn’t happen too often, but it happens more frequently lately—a sign that networks are becoming stressed by the amount of data they’re asked to carry.

We know there are certain limits that Mother Nature gives us—only so much information you can transmit over certain communications channels. That phenomenon is called the nonlinear Shannon limit [named after former Bell Telephone Laboratories mathematician Claude Shannon], and it tells us how far we can push with today’s technologies. We are already very, very close to this limit, within a factor of two roughly. Put another way, based on our experiments in the lab, when we double the amount of network traffic we have today—something that could happen within the next four or five years—we will exceed the Shannon limit. That tells us there’s a fundamental roadblock here. There is no way we can stretch this limit, just as we cannot increase the speed of light. So we need to work with these limits and still find ways to continue the needed growth.

Link to the rest at Scientific American

12
Feb, 2013


Now you have proof that soulmates are a real thing just in time for Valentine’s Day! Illustrator Emanuele Colombo based this delightful animation on Drake Martinet‘s infographic “Love Visualized” (below). Martinet designed the infographic subtitled “Proof That We Are Soulmates” as a proposal to his girlfriend.

03
Jan, 2013

Benjamin Kyle is the only American citizen officially listed as missing despite his whereabouts being known. In 2004, Kyle was left for dead behind a Burger King in Richmond Hill, Georgia and was diagnosed with having dissociative amnesia. As of January 2013, he has yet to been identified.

When I first came across Benjamin Kyle’s story, it reminded me of the science fiction TV series John Doe about a man who wakes up with no memory of who he is, but he knows everything else (such as: how many dimples are on a golf ball, the population of Morocco, and many other such obscure  facts). Unfortunately, Benjamin Kyle’s predicament isn’t nearly as cool. It’s heartbreaking.

findingbenjaman.com

Benjamin Kyle on Wikipedia

FindingBenjaman on Facebook

@findingbenjaman on Twitter

[via UpWorthy]

24
Dec, 2012

Thomas Jefferson, in a letter written to Samuel Kercheval in 1816, had this to say about the law and human progress:

I am certainly not an advocate for for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

[via kottke.org]

23
Dec, 2012

By the end of this talk, there will be 864 more hours of video on YouTube and 2.5 million more photos on Facebook and Instagram. So how do we sort through the deluge? At the TEDSalon in London, Markham Nolan shares the investigative techniques he and his team use to verify information in real-time, to let you know if that Statue of Liberty image has been doctored or if that video leaked from Syria is legitimate.

Using Google Maps, Mr. Nolan also tracks down the validity of a youtube clip that  features lightning striking in someone’s yard. I posted that original video on this blog a while back. Check out: Damn Nature, You Scary! Fireball Caught on Video.

15
Dec, 2012

From Talking Philosophy:

In the United States, race has been forged into a matter of great concern—at least for some people. One of the not uncommonly expressed concerns is whether or not someone is black. In the past, this was often a concern that a black person might be attempting to pass as white. As might be imagined, this was mostly a matter of concern to certain white people. In more recent years a twist has been added to the matter of discerning a person’s blackness. To be specific, one matter that concerns some people is whether or not a person is authentically black as opposed, presumably, to being inauthentically black. In such cases, the racial classification of the person is generally not in dispute. That is, s/he is identified as being black. The concern is, rather, over whether or not the person is properly black. As such, this adds another normative level to the judgment being made.

One recent incident that raised this matter occurred on the ESPN program “First Take.” While this is a sports program, the conversation turned to race when Rob Parker asked if Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is “a brother or is he a cornball brother?” This, on the face of it, seems to be in inquiry into whether or not Griffin is “properly black” or not. When asked what he meant, Parker replied “well, he’s black, he kind of does his thing. But he’s not really down with the cause, he’s not one of us. He’s kind of black. But he’s not really the guy you’d really want to hang out with because he’s off to do something else.”

While Parker does not clearly lay out detailed standards for being authentically black, he did expand on his remarks in a way that suggested what he meant by “being down with the cause.” Parker noted that Griffin has a white fiancée and that there are rumors that he is a Republican.

Parker’s concern over Griffin having a white fiancée is not uncommon. While whites have often been dismayed by attempts to “mix the races” (and it was not until 1967 that the Supreme Court ruled against laws restricting marriage based on race), blacks sometimes criticize other blacks for having relationships with non-blacks. Interestingly and disturbingly, the reasons advanced against “race mixing” often mirror those advanced by racist whites (such as preserving the race). As such, this sort of criticism of Griffin seems to be racist. Naturally, there have been attempts to defend opposition to “race mixing” as being non-racist, but that seems to be a rather challenging (but perhaps not impossible) goal.

Of course, even if being suspicious of “race mixing” is at least a bit racist, it could still be argued that being authentically black requires that a person only have relationships with other black people. That is, that being involved with a non-black would somehow make a person less properly black. Presumably this could apply to other races, so that a white person who dates outside of her race is not properly white and so on for the other races. That is, to be a proper member of the race, one must only be involved with one’s own race. This, of course, requires working out an account of race so that people can date properly if they wish to be authentic. After all, if having a relationship with a person of another race causes one to be inauthentic, then presumably it would follow that dating someone of mixed race could lead to a partial inauthenticity. There is also the obvious problem that “race mixing” has already occurred on a rather large scale and hence those concerned with racial authenticity will need to sort out the matter of mixed-race people, such as President Obama and myself (I’m a colonial blend of English, French, Mohawk and “other”).

Link to the rest at Talking Philosophy.

Authenticity derives from having the courage to remain true to oneself by maintaining a code of ethics consistent with your words and beliefs. Authenticity can be observed and critiqued by others but it does not emanate from outside of you. People can vouch for your integrity but no one can give you authenticity. It can only come from within. You define yourself.

The conversation continues in the HuffPost Live video below:

13
Dec, 2012

Rebecca Eisenberg at UpWorthy:

When Anita Sarkeesian announced plans to do a video series exploring the portrayal of women in video games, she became the victim of a massive online attack choreographed by members of the gaming community who cast her as the “villain” in their online “game” to ruin her life. It did not go well for them. But for Anita, things ended up going very well indeed.

You definitely want to watch the whole thing, but here are some highlights: at 1:00 she talks about why she loves video games, at 2:02 just try to imagine yourself in her shoes, at 3:45 she sticks the people attacking her under a microscope, and at 8:15 she doesn’t just win the game, she absolutely destroys it.

 

Check out Anita Sarkeesian’s website Feminist Frequency.