TECHNOLOGY

BLACKOUT! We're All On The Grid Together

[8.21.03]

Edge can be an interesting venue for mounting a serious conversation about the blackout of August 14th. Within the community is invaluable expertise in many pertinent areas, not to mention the intelligence that the "Edgies" can bring to the subjects. I am asking for "hard-edge" comments, derived from empirical results or experience specific to the expertise of the participant.....

PERSONAL FABRICATION

Topic: 

  • TECHNOLOGY
http://vimeo.com/79459757

"We've already had a digital revolution; we don't need to keep having it. The next big thing in computers will be literally outside the box, as we bring the programmability of the digital world to the rest of the world. With the benefit of hindsight, there's a tremendous historical parallel between the transition from mainframes to PCs and now from machine tools to personal fabrication. By personal fabrication I mean not just making mechanical structures, but fully functioning systems including sensing, logic, actuation, and displays."

PERSONAL FABRICATION

[7.21.03]

We've already had a digital revolution; we don't need to keep having it. The next big thing in computers will be literally outside the box, as we bring the programmability of the digital world to the rest of the world. With the benefit of hindsight, there's a tremendous historical parallel between the transition from mainframes to PCs and now from machine tools to personal fabrication. By personal fabrication I mean not just making mechanical structures, but fully functioning systems including sensing, logic, actuation, and displays.

video
[11 minutes]

Introduction

Neil Gershenfeld teaches a class at MIT called "How To Make (almost) Anything," where the students have access to high-level tools on which the university spends millions of dollars. He expected his course to be a lab for the top engineering students to master the machines. Instead, he is finding that non technical students are showing up and and bringing varied backgrounds to bear on exploiting the possibilities and capabilities of the newest technology available.

"One student, a sculptor with no engineering background," he reports, "made a portable personal space for screaming that saves up your screams and plays them back later. Another made a Web browser that lets parrots navigate the Net."

"From this combination of passion and inventiveness", he goes on, "I began to get a sense that what these students are really doing is reinventing literacy. Literacy in the modern sense emerged in the Renaissance as mastery of the liberal arts. This is liberal in the sense of liberation, not politically liberal."

—JB

 

NEIL GERSHENFELD directs MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms. His unique research group investigates the relationship between the content of information and its physical representation, from molecular quantum computers to virtuosic musical instruments. Technology from his laboratory has been seen and used in settings including New York's Museum of Modern Art and rural Indian villages, the White House/Smithsonian Millennium celebration and automobile safety systems, Las Vegas shows and Sami reindeer herds.

He is the author of numerous technical publications, patents, and books including When Things Start To Think, The Nature of Mathematical Modeling, and The Physics of Information Technology, and has been featured in media such as The New York Times, The Economist, CNN, and the PBS.

Neil Gershenfeld's Edge Bio Page 


10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SECURITY, PRIVACY AND ENCRYPTION

[10.21.02]

Until the '60s, governments were not really involved in car design. Then people like Ralph Nader started noticing that a lot of people were being killed in cars and made it clear why this was happening. We have spent the last 35 years or so designing safety into cars, and it's had a pretty dramatic effect. . . We're in that same era now with security on computer systems. We know we have a problem and now we need to focus on design.

Introduction

Richard Smith is one of the nation's most outspoken privacy mavens, with a difference. Smith is a veteran software hacker who who has a deep understanding of both computers and the Internet. He uses his expertise in Sherlock Holmes fashion to ferret out privacy and security flaws and abuses. Smith is a personal computer industry veteran. He recalls meeting Bill Gates in the 1970s when the two men attended a meeting in Kansas City to establish a standard for PC data storage on tape recorders.

John Markoff, Technology Correspondent, The New York Times

RICHARD M. SMITH has been described by The New York Times as "perhaps the nation's most vocal authority on data privacy." Smith has been in the computer business since the early 70s, and has been involved in microprocessors from day one. He began his career as a programmer, co-founded a software company, and became the head of the nonprofit Privacy Foundation, where he served until November, 2001. Since September 11, he has changed his focus from privacy to security. He is now focuses on technology related to security issues and he operates a web site that reports "computer bites man" stories, named ComputerBytesMan.com. He lives and works in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Richard Smith 's Edge Bio Page


 

10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT SECURITY, PRIVACY AND ENCRYPTION

Topic: 

  • TECHNOLOGY
http://vimeo.com/105808706

"Until the '60s, governments were not really involved in car design. Then people like Ralph Nader started noticing that a lot of people were being killed in cars and made it clear why this was happening. We have spent the last 35 years or so designing safety into cars, and it's had a pretty dramatic effect. . . We're in that same era now with security on computer systems. We know we have a problem and now we need to focus on design."

HOWARD RHEINGOLD: SMART MOBS

[6.16.02]

In 1999 and 2000, Howard Rheingold started noticing people using mobile media in novel ways. In Tokyo, he accompanied flocks of teenagers as they converged on public places, coordinated by text messages. In Helsinki, he joined like-minded Finns who share the same downtown physical clubhouse, virtual community, and mobile-messaging media. He learned that the demonstrators in the 1999 anti-WTO protests used dynamically updated websites, cell-phones, and "swarming" tactics in the "battle of Seattle," and that a million Filipino citizens toppled President Estrada in 2000 through public demonstrations organized by salvos of text messages. Drivers in the UK used mobile communications to spontaneously self organize demonstrations against rising petrol prices. He began to see how these events were connected. He calls these new uses of mobile media "smart mobs." For nearly two years, Rheingold visited hotspots around the world where smart mob technologies and societies were erupting. He had some idea of how to look for early signs of momentous changes, having chronicled and forecast the PC revolution in 1985 and the Internet explosion in 1993. He is now sees a third wave of change underway in the first decade of the 21st century, as the combination of mobile communication and the Internet makes it possible for people to cooperate in ways never before possible.

BEYOND COMPUTATION

Topic: 

  • TECHNOLOGY
http://vimeo.com/79448444

"Maybe there's something beyond computation in the sense that we don't understand and we can't describe what's going on inside living systems using computation only. When we build computational models of living systems—such as a self-evolving system or an artificial immunology system—they're not as robust or rich as real living systems. Maybe we're missing something, but what could that something be?" 

BEYOND COMPUTATION

[6.3.02]

Maybe there's something beyond computation in the sense that we don't understand and we can't describe what's going on inside living systems using computation only. When we build computational models of living systems—such as a self-evolving system or an artificial immunology system—they're not as robust or rich as real living systems. Maybe we're missing something, but what could that something be?

 

Introduction

Rodney Brooks, a computer scientists and Director of the MIT's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, is looking for something beyond computation in the sense that we don't understand and we can't describe what's going on inside living systems using computation only. When we build computational models of living systems, such as a self-evolving system or an artificial immunology system — they're not as robust or rich as real living systems.

"Maybe we're missing something," Brooks asks, "but what could that something be?" He is puzzled that we've got all these biological metaphors that we're playing around with—artificial immunology systems, building robots that appear lifelike—but none of them come close to real biological systems in robustness and in performance. "What I'm worrying about," he says, "is that perhaps in looking at biological systems we're missing something that's always in there. You might be tempted to call it an essence of life, but I'm not talking about anything outside of biology or chemistry."

— JB

RODNEY A. BROOKS is Director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and Fujitsu Professor of Computer Science. He is also Chairman and Chief Technical Officer of iRobot, a 120-person robotics company. Dr. Brooks also appeared as one of the four principals in the Errol Morris movie Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control (named after one of his papers in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society) in 1997 (one of Roger Ebert's 10 best films of the year). He is the author of Flesh and Machines.

ROD BROOKS' Edge Bio Page 

STREAMS

[12.2.01]

"When we ask ourselves what the effect will be of time coming into focus the way space came into focus during the 19th century, we can count on the fact that the consequences will be big. It won't cause the kind of change in our spiritual life that space coming into focus did, because we've moved as far outside as we can get, pretty much. We won't see any further fundamental changes in our attitude towards art or religion ­ all that has happened already. We're apt to see other incalculably large affects on the way we deal with the world and with each other, and looking back at this world today it will look more or less the way 1800 did from the vantage point of 1900. Not just a world with fewer gadgets, but a world with a fundamentally different relationship to space and time. From the small details of our crummy software to the biggest and most abstract issues of how we deal with the world at large, this is a big story."

DAVID GELERNTER is a professor of computer science at Yale and chief scientist at Mirror Worlds Technologies (New Haven). His research centers on information management, parallel programming, and artificial intelligence. The "tuple spaces" introduced in Nicholas Carriero and Gelernter's Linda system (1983) are the basis of many computer communication systems worldwide. Dr. Gelernter is the author of Mirror Worlds, The Muse in the Machine, 1939: The Lost World of the Fair, and Drawiing a Life: Surviving the Unabomber.

David Gelernter's Edge Bio page


STREAMS

Topic: 

  • TECHNOLOGY
http://vimeo.com/79412170

"When we ask ourselves what the effect will be of time coming into focus the way space came into focus during the 19th century, we can count on the fact that the consequences will be big. It won't cause the kind of change in our spiritual life that space coming into focus did, because we've moved as far outside as we can get, pretty much. We won't see any further fundamental changes in our attitude towards art or religion ­ all that has happened already.

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