BLOGS

internet (4)

Mind Meld...

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Credit: Getty Images

 

Topics: Internet, Neuroscience, Research, Star Trek


We humans have evolved a rich repertoire of communication, from gesture to sophisticated languages. All of these forms of communication link otherwise separate individuals in such a way that they can share and express their singular experiences and work together collaboratively. In a new study, technology replaces language as a means of communicating by directly linking the activity of human brains. Electrical activity from the brains of a pair of human subjects was transmitted to the brain of a third individual in the form of magnetic signals, which conveyed an instruction to perform a task in a particular manner. This study opens the door to extraordinary new means of human collaboration while, at the same time, blurring fundamental notions about individual identity and autonomy in disconcerting ways.

Direct brain-to-brain communication has been a subject of intense interest for many years, driven by motives as diverse as futurist enthusiasm and military exigency. In his book Beyond Boundaries one of the leaders in the field, Miguel Nicolelis, described the merging of human brain activity as the future of humanity, the next stage in our species’ evolution. (Nicolelis serves on Scientific American’s board of advisers.) He has already conducted a study in which he linked together the brains of several rats using complex implanted electrodes known as brain-to-brain interfaces. Nicolelis and his co-authors described this achievement as the first “organic computer” with living brains tethered together as if they were so many microprocessors. The animals in this network learned to synchronize the electrical activity of their nerve cells to the same extent as those in a single brain. The networked brains were tested for things such as their ability to discriminate between two different patterns of electrical stimuli, and they routinely outperformed individual animals.

If networked rat brains are “smarter” than a single animal, imagine the capabilities of a biological supercomputer of networked human brains. Such a network could enable people to work across language barriers. It could provide those whose ability to communicate is impaired with a new means of doing so. Moreover, if the rat study is correct, networking human brains might enhance performance. Could such a network be a faster, more efficient and smarter way of working together?

 

Scientists Demonstrate Direct Brain-to-Brain Communication in Humans
Robert Martone, Scientific American

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Half Century...


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Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Fascism, Human Rights, Internet


As stated, my incarceration ends this Friday. However, my "due process" is as much a mystery as my apparent offense. Any appeals goes into the nether ether; a 1 and 0 equivalent of a digital black hole. The temporary suspension of my First Amendment rights is annoying, but I have the ability to post to forums that I'm the administrator, and if determined to, I can message any post to another Facebook subscriber "on the outside" to post for me. The inconvenience comes when you wish to join into a flow of ideas over something you have an emotional tie to (like, homecoming). As a parent and now a grandparent, I can attest it is far more instructive "teaching a lesson" when the offender has a clear explanation of what the original offense was. I likely ran afoul of an algorithm.

It's interesting that Facebook is the byproduct of a theft if "The Social Network" is to be believed. To address its (assumed) accidental complicity in the spreading of fake news by Internet trolls, there is a "news" service that respects all voices, inclusive of those on the Alt Right (Wrong) like Brietbart and the Daily Caller along with legitimate news outlets as a faux diversity of voices. Yet, Mr. Zuckerberg doesn't want government regulation or for Facebook to be broken up into smaller companies (though, I doubt he would starve).

Facebook and Twitter are "free" with the exception of gathering metadata on our browsing and spending habits and using it towards profiting of those same and other corporations. It can also be used nefariously by governments as discovered in 2016.

On this fiftieth anniversary of the Internet, we should recall the lesson from the fictional character, Spider-man: "with great power comes great responsibility."
 

Marking the anniversary, our founder and inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, said:

“It’s astonishing to think the internet is already half a century old. But its birthday is not altogether a happy one. The internet — and the World Wide Web it enabled — have changed our lives for the better and have the power to transform millions more in the future. But increasingly we’re seeing that power for good being subverted, whether by scammers, people spreading hatred or vested interests threatening democracy.

“A year ago, I called for a new Contract for the Web, bringing together governments, companies and citizen groups to come up with a clear plan of action to protect the web as a force for good. In a month’s time that plan will be ready. This birthday must mark the moment we take on the fight for the web we want.” *

 

As the internet turns 50, we must protect it as a force for good, Web Foundation

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Quantum Google...

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Linear computation: montage of a photo of the chip containing the trapped ions and an image of the ions in a 1D array (Courtesy: Christopher Monroe) Physicsworld.com

 

Topics: Internet, Quantum Computer, Quantum Computing, Quantum Mechanics


Google said it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing research, saying an experimental quantum processor has completed a calculation in just a few minutes that would take a traditional supercomputer thousands of years.

The findings, published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature, show that "quantum speedup is achievable in a real-world system and is not precluded by any hidden physical laws," the researchers wrote.

Quantum computing is a nascent and somewhat bewildering technology for vastly sped-up information processing. Quantum computers are still a long way from having a practical application but might one day revolutionize tasks that would take existing computers years, including the hunt for new drugs and optimizing city and transportation planning.

The technique relies on quantum bits, or qubits, which can register data values of zero and one—the language of modern computing—simultaneously. Big tech companies including Google, Microsoft, IBM and Intel are avidly pursuing the technology.

"Quantum things can be in multiple places at the same time," said Chris Monroe, a University of Maryland physicist who is also the founder of quantum startup IonQ. "The rules are very simple, they're just confounding."

 

Google touts quantum computing milestone
Rachel Lerman

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The Cesspool...

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Credit: Getty Images

 

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Internet, Existentialism, Politics


Last month, I temporarily deactivated my Twitter account following a colossal dump of racist abuse into my feed, including a man in Texas whipping up his followers to phone into an NPR radio show on which I was a guest to ask about “white genocide.” Others played a guessing game around my skin color in the belief this would help them gauge my IQ. On YouTube, one of the editors of Mankind Quarterly, a pseudoscientific journal founded after the Second World War to argue against desegregation and racial mixing, imitated me by dressing up in an “Indian shirt” (I am British; my parents were born in India). The comments underneath said I should I go back to where I came from.

It’s just another day online.

The Internet Is a Cesspool of Racist Pseudoscience
Angela Saini, Scientific American and author of Superior: The Return of Race Science


I will take a week off before classes start in the fall.

The Internet is a development of science as well as the military-industrial complex. Scientists, engineers and librarians used as "FTP" - file transfer protocol, which predates what we've come to recognize as HTTP - hypertext transfer protocol.

If you peruse DARPA's website, there is historical reference to the idea of something that would survive a thermonuclear attack. The previous communications protocols from WWII was a "hub-spoke" configuration: thinking of a wagon wheel, the hub was at the center and typically the headquarters for deployed assets in theater. The spokes were distant users of the communications network the hub would have set up with an engineering design called a communications plan (in a previous life, I was that person as an Air Force Communications/Computer Systems Officer). Thus the enemy - presumed the USSR during the Cold War - would simply destroy the hub and the spokes would be in the dark and disconnected, or deploy an EMP - electromagnetic pulse, exploding a nuclear device in atmosphere, disrupting most if not all high frequency transmissions. The idea of a "web" was so that could not occur.

The network involved satellites of course, and the distant users were tied to the hub with troposphere line-of-sight microwave horns, radio frequency equipment that multiplexed voice and digital through encrypted teletype, audio and digital switches. It was a beautiful thing to witness when it all worked.

What is developed for the government like Velcro eventually gets to the masses. AOL is an ancient form of email and web browsing that required dial-up phones and a loud modem. Netscape was the first attempt at commercial web design software, relying mostly on the aforementioned HTTP. Before social media, people started bantering or bickering back-and-forth on message boards or would send "flame mail" trying to make a point. When using company assets to send witticism or derogatory commentary, many then and now found themselves in the unemployment lines.

As I alluded to in Filter and Subtext, what particularly used to happen as a societal breaking mechanism - editors in the case of print media; producers for film - pretty much no longer exists. One may publish their first thoughts, misspelled and grammar failing; grainy, amateurish film made on cheap laptops or with cellphone cameras. Any pointing to written errors labels you a grammar Nazi; any video has to be "true" because it's on the Internet with high views. The ready access to information has led to the dangerous belief that no one has to train and become expert in a field to have an informed opinion.

The Internet is both falsely empowering and the source of demographic demarcation: by having the ability to get anything in an instant gives the impression that you KNOW a subject. As a person that reads academic papers for a living, I can assure you in the first read of any paper, I won't know the subject. I will read the abstract several times followed by the introduction, experimental procedure; results and conclusions. I will read some of the papers in the references. There are words, phrases and either physical or chemical compounds I'm not familiar with (Google). I write things down; take notes. I work through the formulas in the paper so I can understand them. It is a tedious, grinding process that takes time. I recall a maxim in the martial arts: "a black belt is a white belt that never quit." So it is with building any level of expertise in well...anything. By choosing "news feeds" instead of reading morning and evening print media as well as three main networks essentially reciting from the same Associated Press scriptures, we automatically place ourselves in silos that when we try to converse with one another, devolve into electronic and actual shouting matches.

Tom Nichols is a college professor at the US Naval War College, occasional opinion contributor on MSNBC and until recently, was a member of the Republican Party. In his treatise "The Death of Expertise," he points to a disdain of experts on the right and the left; the confusion of confirmation bias (finding the thing that you already agree with confirming what you already believe) as "evidence" your position and opinions are true. This likely parallels the transistorizing of the cumbersome and large hub-spoke network into our hip pockets. It may empower those unfamiliar with the Dunning-Kruger Effect that despite their sense of empowerment, they may be way out over their skis. They might tweet the first thing that comes to mind while sitting on the loo during "executive time." In such a world, everyone's an expert and no one is for the most part humble enough to admit they might be wrong or at least misinformed about a subject. In such a world, the warming temperatures are ignored and the science is scrubbed from government sites as "inconvenient" to the stated China hoax theory. In such a world, pseudoscience is pushed in every corridor of existence as "free speech" and "teach the [faux] controversy." Facts won't matter: There is still a Flat Earth Society in the 21st century (with a website). There are still conspiracy theorists that think the Moon landing was faked.

In such a world, the chimera list of wrong-headed things that can be believed: Alt-Right (Wrong) racist tropes, Bigfoot, the Clinton's murdering people or running child sex rings; crisis actors at mass shootings, E.T., fascism (aided and abetted by our own cleverness per a virtual Yuval Noah Harari at TED); flying saucers, Godzilla, Loch Ness Monster, Neo Nazis, Ouija boards, Pizza Gate, poltergeists, Q-Anon is almost endless, but not ONE can bother to read the Mueller Report or believe that our election processes were as attacked as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and walls of the Pentagon fell to ruinous rubble on 9/11.

The FBI intelligence bulletin from the bureau’s Phoenix field office, dated May 30, 2019, describes “conspiracy theory-driven domestic extremists,” as a growing threat, and notes that it is the first such report to do so. It lists a number of arrests, including some that haven’t been publicized, related to violent incidents motivated by fringe beliefs.

The document specifically mentions QAnon, a shadowy network that believes in a deep state conspiracy against President Trump, and Pizzagate, the theory that a pedophile ring including Clinton associates was being run out of the basement of a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant (which didn’t actually have a basement).

“The FBI assesses these conspiracy theories very likely will emerge, spread, and evolve in the modern information marketplace, occasionally driving both groups and individual extremists to carry out criminal or violent acts,” the document states. It also goes on to say the FBI believes conspiracy theory-driven extremists are likely to increase during the 2020 presidential election cycle.

Exclusive: FBI document warns conspiracy theories are a new domestic terrorism threat
Jana Winter, Yahoo News


"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:32

In such a world, truth itself becomes a casualty, and the opposite of freeing truths is slavery.
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