You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘the end of the world as we know it’ category.

“Gyre”

A foto acima é de “Gyre”, uma obra do artista Chris Jordan,  famoso por criar grandes mosaicos que descrevem, de uma maneira ou outra, alguns números pouco abonadores sobre nossa civilização.

“Gyre” faz parte de sua sua série “Running the Numbers“, e é uma colagem de 2.400.000 peças de plástico, todas colhidas no Giro do Pacífico (um lugar que já frequentamos aqui).  O número é simbólico, pois representa o total do peso do plástico que é jogado no mar a cada hora, em libras (mais de mil toneladas).

Acabo de ouvir, no Jornal Nacional, que uma das providências que os EUA planejam exigir das empresas aéreas em vista do recente atentado a um avião que ia de Amsterdam para Detroit é proibir que os passageiros entrem no banheiro da aeronave a partir do momento em que faltar 1 hora para a aterrisagem.

Em minha opinião isso revela algumas coisas interessantes:

a) o reconhecimento tácito de que o tipo de explosivo usado pelo nigeriano, bem como a técnica de ignição, é indetectável pelo raio-X dos aeroportos;

b) que, em vista disso, as autoridades anti-terror seguirão uma política de reduzir o possível custo em vidas de um ataque, procurando limitar a perda em vidas apenas ao número de passageiros e tripulantes do avião, minorando as possíveis baixas advindas da queda de uma aeronave de grande porte sobre uma área densamente povoada.

***

Ou seja, a guerra ao terror vai bem, obrigado.  E se você, passageiro que não tem nada a ver com isso, está se borrando de medo, saiba que vai ficar pelo menos uma hora borrado.

Sushi de água viva

Seja você um cético do aquecimento global ou não, se você gosta de frutos do mar é bom ir aprendendo a reeducar seu paladar.

Deu no The Register:

LHC knocked out by ANOTHER power failure

By Lewis Page

The Large Hadron Collider – most puissant particle-punisher ever assembled by the human race – has suffered another major power failure, knocking not only the atomsmasher itself but even its associated websites offline. The machine remains unserviceable at present. However its crucial cryogenics seem to have been unaffected, and no catastrophic damage is thought to have occurred.

***

Bom, nada a ver entre o LHC e o FHC.  Esse último parece que nunca sofreu de “power failure“.

***

Tô dizendo…  🙂

Ying Zai Zhongguo

China outside the box:

As the first decade of the 21st century comes to a close, the world’s largest and most lucrative business-plan competition is held… not in the United States or in any western country, but in communist China.

Beyond the 1.3 billion Chinese, the competition goes largely unnoticed in the rest of the world. But in communist China the competition, aptly named Win In China, is broadcast on national TV.

Over 120,000 entrepreneurs compete for prize money in excess of $5 million with the winner receiving nearly $1.5 million dollars to invest in their new business plan.”

***

Mais sobre o programa aqui, sobre o documentário aqui, entrevista com Robert Compton aqui.

Chocante vídeo da Plane Stupid, uma ONG que visa combater o transporte aéreo, já que este meio, segundo eles, é um dos contribuintes do efeito estufa que mais cresce no mundo.  Suas principais reivindicações são:

  • fim dos vôos de curta duração e da expansão de aeroportos
  • fim da publicidade das companhias aeronáuticas
  • uma transição justa para empregos e transportes sustentáveis

Embora eu ache o propósito nobre, minha impressão é de que a base científica das demandas da organização não é muito persuasiva (o transporte aéreo aparentemente contribui com apenas 2% das emissões totais, parece, embora realmente esteja crescendo muito rápido), e pior, eles não parecem oferecer muitas soluções alternativas concretas.

Business Insider: “12 Places To Go If The World Goes To Hell”

O Rio de Janeiro aparece, mas nao sei se aparece bem:

Seeing as this city is already so post-apocalyptic, there shouldn’t be much to worry about if things really get bad. They already understand how to live at the edge of economic and social chaos.”

 

free-will

O Nicholas Carr tem um interessante post discutindo uma entrevista de Frank Schirrmacher (editor de ciência e cultura do Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) no The Edge.  Entre as várias respostas à entrevista, surge um texto (da autoria de John Bargh, chefe do Automaticity in Cognition, Motivation and Evaluation Lab de Yale) que me lembra uma discussão interessante que já tivemos aqui:

Schirrmacher is quite right to worry about the consequences of a universally available digitized knowledge base, especially if it concerns predicting what people will do. And most especially if artificial intelligence agents can begin to search and put together the burgeoning data base about what situation (or prime) X will cause a person to do. The discovery of the pervasiveness of situational priming influences for all of the higher mental processes in humans does say something fundamentally new about human nature (for example, how tightly tied and responsive is our functioning to our particular physical and social surroundings). It removes consciousness or free will as the bottleneck that exclusively generates choices and behavioral impulses, replacing it with the physical and social world itself as the source of these impulses. …

It is because priming studies are so relatively easy to perform that this method has opened up research on the prediction and control of human judgment and behavior, ‘democratized’ it, basically, because studies can be done much more quickly and efficiently, and done well even by relatively untrained undergraduate and graduate students. This has indeed produced (and is still producing) an explosion of knowledge of the IF-THEN contingencies of human responses to the physical and social environment. And so I do worry with Schirrmacher on this score, because we [are] so rapidly building a database or atlas of unconscious influences and effects that could well be exploited by ever-faster computing devices, as the knowledge is accumulating at an exponential rate. …

More frightening to me still is Schirrmacher’s postulated intelligent artificial agents who can, as in the Google Books example, search and access this knowledge base so quickly, and then integrate it to be used in real-time applications to manipulate the target individual to think or feel or behave in ways that suit the agent’s (or its owner’s) agenda of purposes.

Mais gente do que você imagina acredita nisso.  Bem, a conclusão do Carr é frightening:

The Web has been called a “database of intentions.” The bigger that database grows, and the more deeply it is mined, the more difficult it may become to discern whether those intentions are our own or ones that have been implanted in us.”

Exhibit A:  Onde foram parar os cortes de impostos da era Bush.

6a00d83451b33869e20120a642caf8970b-800wi

(clique para ampliar)

Exhibit B: Até Gorbachev tira um sarro do Ocidente.

The real achievement we can celebrate is the fact that the 20th century marked the end of totalitarian ideologies, in particular those that were based on utopian beliefs.

Yet new ideologies are quickly replacing the old ones, both in the east and the west. Many now forget that the fall of the Berlin wall was not the cause of global changes but to a great extent the consequence of deep, popular reform movements that started in the east, and the Soviet Union in particular. After decades of the Bolshevik experiment and the realization that this had led Soviet society down a historical blind alley, a strong impulse for democratic reform evolved in the form of Soviet perestroika, which was also available to the countries of eastern Europe.

But it was soon very clear that western capitalism, too, deprived of its old adversary and imagining itself the undisputed victor and incarnation of global progress, is at risk of leading western society and the rest of the world down another historical blind alley.”

Via Daniel Drezner, esta foto de um despacho de Mohamed Nasheed, o Presidente das Ilhas Maldivas, pressionando por um acordo mais eficaz em Copenhagen em prol da luta contra o aquecimento global:

f550e0ba9e1c4e8bb4a5ed0ac23a952d

“President Mohamed Nasheed, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed and 11 cabinet ministers donned scuba gear and submerged 4 meters below the surface of sea to hold the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting, in a bid to push for a stronger climate change agreement in the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen.

“We are trying to send our message to let the world know what is happening and what will happen to the Maldives if climate change isn’t checked” said President Nasheed, speaking to the press as soon as he resurfaced from underwater.

“What we are trying to make people realize is that the Maldives is a frontline state. This is not merely an issue for the Maldives but for the world. If we can’t save the Maldives today, you can’t save the rest of the world tomorrow”, said President Nasheed further.

During the 30-minute meeting held in the turquoise lagoon off Girifushi Island, with a backdrop of corals, the President, the Vice President and eleven other Cabinet ministers signed a resolution calling for global cuts in carbon emissions.”

***

O Drezner tem uma questão:

“Just to be contrarian, however, I do wonder if it’s the case that as small island nations go, so does the rest of the world. Because they are sovereign actors, small island nations often possess greater influence than their population or GDP merits. Would a rational, cost-benefit analysis of how to allocate climate change resources between mitigation and adaptation really place such a high priority on a bunch of small countries with a combined population of less than ten million?”

Imediatamente me veio à mente a idéia de um federalismo mundial.  Como esse papo pode não ter muita tração junto à platéia mais avessa à globalizações que não sejam as meramente comerciais, acho que esta foto contém um bom argumento:

12earth_lights

(clique para ampliar)

Levando em consideração que as luzes mostram áreas de maior concentração populacional (com raras exceções, como alguns pontos de extração de petróleo no Oriente Médio), dá pra notar que qualquer alteração significativa do nível do mar terá consequências catastróficas todos os continentes.  Portanto, nesse caso o Drezner não deveria ficar tão preocupado com “a ditadura das minorias”…

Ok, já era suficientemente estranho o fenômeno dos “famosos por serem famosos”.

Mas agora, há os famosos por serem ex-famosos.  E o negócio já está virando profissão.

Wall Street volta a ostentar uma lucratividade bolhosa, e Kevin Drum está puto:

“(…) Is there any silver lining here? Probably not, but I’ll try: If Wall Street can shrug off the worst recession of our lifetimes as if it’s a minor fender bender and get the party rolling all over again in less than 12 months, it means the next bubble is already in the works and its collapse will be every bit as bad as this one. That in turn means it will almost certainly happen while today’s politicians are still in office. So maybe news like this will finally spur lawmakers to realize once and for all that the financial industry needs to be cut down to size. Half measures won’t do it. Self-regulation won’t do it. Compensation limits won’t do it. Byzantine, watered-down rules won’t do it.”

Muito puto:

Something like a Morgenthau Plan for Wall Street is the only thing that has even half a chance of working.”

CERTAMENTENTALVEZ_1232720741P

E eu falando em FC soviética…

Ficção:

Action takes place in the Leningrad, USSR, apparently in the 1970s.

The protagonist, Dmitry Aleskeevich Malyanov (Дмитрий Алексеевич Малянов) is an astrophysicist who, while officially on leave, continues work on his thesis “Interaction of Stars with Diffused Galactic Matter”. Just as he begins to realize that he is on the verge of a revolutionary discovery, his life becomes plagued by strange events.

Malyanov’s neighbor dies, possibly as a suicide, and he comes under suspicion of the police for murder. Unexpectedly, he is visited by an attractive woman claiming to be his wife’s classmate. An apparent explosion fells a large tree just outside his window. These events seem to conspire to prevent Malyanov from returning to his work.

Approaching the problem with a scientific mindset, Malyanov suspects the potential discovery is in the way of someone (or something) intent on preventing the completion of his work. The same idea occurs to his friends and acquaintances, who find themselves in a similar impasse — some powerful, mysterious, and very selective force impedes their work in fields ranging from biology to mathematical linguistics.

A solution is proposed by Malyanov’s friend and neighbor, the mathematician Vecherovsky (Вечеровский). He posits that the mysterious force is the Universe’s reaction to the Mankind’s scientific pursuit which threatens to discover the very essence of the Universe. This reaction is what prevents development of “super-civilizations”, ones that would be able to counteract the Second law of thermodynamics on a cosmic scale.

Paradoxically, Vecherovsky proposes to treat this Universal resistance to scientific progress as a natural phenomenon which can and should be investigated and even harnessed by Science.”

Er, realidade:

More than a year after an explosion of sparks, soot and frigid helium shut it down, the world’s biggest and most expensive physics experiment, known as the Large Hadron Collider, is poised to start up again. In December, if all goes well, protons will start smashing together in an underground racetrack outside Geneva in a search for forces and particles that reigned during the first trillionth of a second of the Big Bang.

Then it will be time to test one of the most bizarre and revolutionary theories in science. I’m not talking about extra dimensions of space-time, dark matter or even black holes that eat the Earth. No, I’m talking about the notion that the troubled collider is being sabotaged by its own future. A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists have suggested that the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather.

Holger Bech Nielsen, of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, and Masao Ninomiya of the Yukawa Institute for Theoretical Physics in Kyoto, Japan, put this idea forward in a series of papers with titles like “Test of Effect From Future in Large Hadron Collider: a Proposal” and “Search for Future Influence From LHC,” posted on the physics Web site arXiv.org in the last year and a half.

According to the so-called Standard Model that rules almost all physics, the Higgs is responsible for imbuing other elementary particles with mass.

“It must be our prediction that all Higgs producing machines shall have bad luck,” Dr. Nielsen said in an e-mail message. In an unpublished essay, Dr. Nielson said of the theory, “Well, one could even almost say that we have a model for God.” It is their guess, he went on, “that He rather hates Higgs particles, and attempts to avoid them.”

This malign influence from the future, they argue, could explain why the United States Superconducting Supercollider, also designed to find the Higgs, was canceled in 1993 after billions of dollars had already been spent, an event so unlikely that Dr. Nielsen calls it an “anti-miracle.”

(…)

Dr. Nielsen admits that he and Dr. Ninomiya’s new theory smacks of time travel, a longtime interest, which has become a respectable research subject in recent years. While it is a paradox to go back in time and kill your grandfather, physicists agree there is no paradox if you go back in time and save him from being hit by a bus. In the case of the Higgs and the collider, it is as if something is going back in time to keep the universe from being hit by a bus. Although just why the Higgs would be a catastrophe is not clear. If we knew, presumably, we wouldn’t be trying to make one. (…)

(hat tip: PMF)

27-scientistsfi

Enviar expedições ao “garbage patch” do Pacífico está finalmente ficando “na moda”.

Uma missão exploratória promovida pela Agência Ambiental das Nações Unidas estava sendo preparada em março, enquanto outra grande exploração, a SEAPLEX, foi concluída recentemente por uma equipe da Scripps Institution of Oceanography com suporte da University of California Ship Funds e da National Science Foundation.

Ambas eventualmente produzirão documentários que darão maior visibilidade ao problema.

Um dos pesquisadores disse uma frase interessante:

There is no jurisdiction, no government who is entirely responsible, so there has been no push to clean it up. The world doesn’t know it is out there

De fato o “garbage patch” é a materialização (em plástico) do conceito de “externalidade negativa”.  Devia ir parar em algum livro texto…

***

Um pensamento intrigante é que embora o envenenamento por plástico certamente vá constar de nosso cardápio nos próximos séculos se nada for feito quanto ao problema, muito possivelmente muitas formas de vida marinha acabarão se adaptando ao novo meio ambiente, enquanto outras fenecerão.  E as espécies menos longevas, cujo ciclo de vida é mais rápido, provavelmente se adaptarão primeiro.   Talvez estas expedições já tragam alguma novidade a respeito, quando publicarem seus resultados.

No Valor, uma resenha estranha:

Todos nós conhecemos pelo menos um exemplar típico desta geração de jovens para os quais casamento, lar e filhos são vistos não como metas, mas perigos a serem evitados, como mostrou um estudo com o perfil dos americanos do fim da sua adolescência até os 20 e tantos anos. O mais apropriado, em muitos casos, seria acrescentar emprego à lista do que os assusta. Grande número deles não tem ideia de qual será sua ocupação e muitos estão adiando o momento de sair da casa dos pais. É possível prever que mesmo entre os mais instruídos haverá os que passarão anos em empregos temporários.

Em resumo, são jovens adultos que tentam adiar os compromissos, um fenômeno facilmente encontrável nos EUA, no Japão, na Europa e, claro, também no Brasil. Na Itália, tem-se constatado que a maioria dos jovens na faixa dos 30 ainda vive em casa com os pais e não está casada nem propriamente empregada. O governo inglês criou uma “classificação” específica para eles: são os Jovens Neet, na sigla em inglês: Not in Education, Employment or Trainining (não estudantes, não empregados, não em treinamento).

Outro grupo são os chamados “bumerangues” – saem da casa paterna para estudar ou quando arrumam emprego ou se casam, mas voltam porque fracassaram e não veem opção senão recorrer aos pais. De forma geral, sentem-se confortáveis morando com a família mesmo adultos, supostamente independentes, donos dos próprios narizes.

Para os pais, parece uma situação ideal o prolongamento da convivência diária com os filhos, já na fase adulta. Mas são cada vez mais comuns as manifestações de preocupação desses mesmos pais, dos dirigentes de empresas, de psicólogos sobre a instabilidade desses jovens. Haver filhos dependentes emocional e financeiramente dos pais não é um fenômeno recente, mas acentuou-se nos últimos anos, mesmo antes da crise financeira que dificultou o acesso dos jovens ao mercado de trabalho.

A questão, na verdade, é outra, e é esse o mote de William Damon, professor de educação e diretor do Centro de Pesquisas da Adolescência da Universidade de Stanford, no livro “O Que o Jovem Quer da Vida?”. É sua terceira obra nessa esteira de análise do papel e do perfil dos jovens. Para ele, o que falta aos jovens é um projeto de vida. E ele gasta praticamente todo o livro mostrando como é possível estimulá-los a descobrir qual é esse propósito de vida.

Não é tarefa fácil. Mas, com base em pesquisa com mais de 200 jovens com idade entre 12 e 26 anos, Damon oferece panorama das aspirações – ou da falta delas – desse grupo e sugestões de como motivar e inspirar os sem-projeto.”

***

A resenha é estranha porque o resenhista toma grande parte do seu tempo falando de um fenômeno social, e só nos últimos dois parágrafos falando do livro _ com nem uma palavra sobre a proposta real do autor.

Fiquei sem saber se o livro é bom ou ruim, mas até que fiquei curioso.  Imagino, porém, que o livro seja ruim, pois se propõe a dar respostas locais (“motivar o jovem”) para problemas que são gerais (desemprego).  Resta a questão da alienação.  Acho que este é um divisor de águas, com os conservadores em geral achando que este é um “problema de valores” resolvível em casa e os progressistas achando que este é um “problema de valores” resolvível coletivamente.  Palpites?

***

De toda forma, eu aposto que os “jovens Neets” estão superrepresentados nas redes de relacionamento.  E no Twitter.  🙂

matrixhasyou

Via Engadget:

It’s not enough that humans gave robots a place to congregate to plan our demise, now we’ve adapted them with the ability to extract fuel from the very nectar of life. All that innocent experimentation with fuel cells that run on blood has led to this, a flesh-eating clock. This prototype time-piece from UK-based designers James Auger and Jimmy Loizeau traps insects on flypaper stretched across its roller system before depositing them into a vat of bacteria. The ensuing chemical reaction, or “digestion,” is transformed into power that keeps the rollers rollin’ and the LCD clock ablaze. The pair offers an alternative design fueled by mice, another contraption whose robotic arm plucks insect-fuel from spider webs with the help of a video camera, and a lamp powered by insects lured to their deaths with ultraviolet LEDs. Man, this is so wrong it has to be right.

Fantástico:

When reports started to trickle in a few years ago about European blackbirds imitating ambulance sirens, car alarms, and cell phone ringtones, researchers were skeptical, writes Dawn Stover, an editor at large for Popular Science magazine. Doubting scientists asked for tapes. What came back were “pitch-perfect” renditions of urban noises, even a recording made near a golf course of birds copying the annoying sound of a golf cart backing up.”

Continua aqui.

Eu sempre disse que enquanto os vitalistas se escandalizam com o fato de que possamos ser máquinas, eu me admiro que máquinas possam ser seres vivos.  Este texto que linco aqui ilustra bem minha visão.  Trecho:

From Mind Loading to Mind Cloning – Gene to Meme to Beme: A Perspective on the Nature of Humanity

By Martine Rothblatt

Introduction

A central concern of the pro/anti transhumanist debate is whether to restrict our human bodies to a biological form or to expand our personal existence onto non-biological platforms. The anti-transhumanist position is that we are our DNA-birthed bodies. I suggest that cybernetics may very well offer a means for expanding the human being.

In Jean-Pierre Dupuy’s essay “Cybernetics Is An Antihumanism: Advanced Technologies and the Rebellion Against the Human Condition”, Dupuy misstates the cybernetics premise. Dupuy suggests that cybernetics in its quest for control is something anti-human. Alternatively, I suggest that cybernetics is simply an extension of life, much like a modern primate digging stick or insectoid behavioral pattern all of which quests for control over the environment. Failure to exert control over one’s environment is tantamount to extinction, for no environment provides all the requisites for life at all times without manipulation. Even bacteria control their environment by movement through it and linking together metabolic excretions. To control is not only to be human, it is to survive.

leituraxxisiecle

Reconheço que o pessoal foi criativo na criação de alternativas para a mídia impressa, lá na caixa de comentários deste post.   Mas tenho duas notícias que, digamos, engrossam o caldo:

Saiu um estudo da Pricewaterhousecoopers (PWC) indicando que há, sim, demanda para compra de conteúdo online de alto padrão.  O estudo, intitulado “Moving into multiple business models* – Outlook for Newspaper Publishing in the Digital Age“, aparentemente não foi contratado por ninguém _ a PWC diz que não recomenda seu uso como aconselhamento profissional, já que o estudo é apenas um guia para assuntos de interesse amplo.  Algumas conclusões, porém, são um tanto incoerentes no contexto mais amplo da disputa entre grande mídia e blogs, por exemplo:

Consumers place high value on the deep insight and analysis provided by journalists over and above general or breaking news stories.

Consumers see breaking news and general interest news as commodities, but there is always a market for high value online content in specific topics. Our consumer research indicates that consumers are willing to pay for this content, but newspapers need to develop strategies for monetising their content and intellectual capital.

Ora, se fatos (breaking news) são commodities, e os consumidores valorizam análise da notícia (deep insight and analysis), eu diria que os jornais estão muy mal posicionados vis a vis os blogs.  Por outro lado, há uma tendência clara nos EUA a que os blogs se tornem “vitrines” de bons analistas que depois são contratados a bons salários pela grande mídia.

A segunda notícia é fantástica:  o governo holandês, diante do ambiente crescentemente hostil ao modelo de negócios da mídia tradicional,  resolveu “adotar” 60 jovens jornalistas que serão empregados dos jornais privados mas serão “subsidiados” pelo Estado por até dois anos.  Claro que a medida tem mais um viés “trabalhista” do que de comunicação, mas não custa crer que há também uma preocupação em reconhecer a importância de seu papel (sic) em uma democracia moderna.

Como alguns dos meus 4,5 leitores devem estar sabendo, o ônibus espacial Atlantis está no espaço, em missão de manutenção do telescópio espacial Hubble.  O telescópio, colocado em órbita em 1990, revolucionou a astronomia e o nosso entendimento sobre o Universo, mas estava profundamente necessitado de uma meia-sola desde sua última “revisão” em 2003.  Espera-se que, tudo correndo bem, ele continue funcionando até 2014; após a atual missão, suas capacidades, aliás, estarão em seu ápice, já que a ele serão agregados novos instrumentos que não existiam em sua configuração original.

Mas o que me interessa mesmo neste post é isso:

cowboyspace

(clique para ampliar)

Eu sou do tempo em que “astronauta” era quase sinônimo de um ser humano excepcional, com vigor e resistência acima da média, verdadeiros pilotos de prova (se não me engano a maioria deles tinha mesmo essa profissão).  Mas olhem bem a imagem dos tripulantes da Atlantis na missão STS-125.  São senhores e senhoras de meia idade.

O NYT confirma a tendência, em uma matéria sobre a atual tripulação da Estação Espacial Internacional, que pararam um pouquinho para ver o novo “Jornada nas Estrelas”:

Mr. Barratt, 50, Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, 50, and Koichi Wakata, 46, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency settled into the node, named “Unity,” after dinner and secured their feet with floor straps to keep from floating during the screening, she said. 

They are the 19th crew since 2000 to put in time at the International Space Station, which is a series of large modules connected by smaller nodes. Getting together for a “movie night,” she added, was a tradition on the station. 

Mr. Barrat said in a press release that the original series inspired him to become an astronaut and would be a perfect film selection for the space station.” [grifo meu]

O espaço já não é mais aquele: turistas ricos e veteranos de meia idade o habitam.  À juventude, só resta o inner space de seus quartinhos e o Twitter.

Se você acha que a grande mídia tem problemas apenas na versão impressa, veja isto (clique para ampliar):

 

mediatrends

Trailer do filme do Barry Ptolemy  sobre a SingularidadeRaptureforNerdsRay Kurzweil.

Mais aqui.

RepRap!

ian-moulded-reprap

Descrição:

Look at your computer setup and imagine that you hooked up a 3D printer. Instead of printing on bits of paper this 3D printer makes real, robust, mechanical parts. To give you an idea of how robust, think Lego bricks and you’re in the right area. You could make lots of useful stuff, but interestingly you could also make most of the parts to make another 3D printer. That would be a machine that could copy itself.

RepRap is short for Replicating Rapid-prototyper. It is the practical self-copying 3D printer shown on the right – a self-replicating machine. This 3D printer builds the parts up in layers of plastic. This technology already exists, but the cheapest commercial machine would cost you about €30,000. And it isn’t even designed so that it can make itself. So what the RepRap team are doing is to develop and to give away the designs for a much cheaper machine with the novel capability of being able to self-copy (material costs are about €500). That way it’s accessible to small communities in the developing world as well as individuals in the developed world. Following the principles of the Free Software Movement we are distributing the RepRap machine at no cost to everyone under the GNU General Public Licence. So, if you have a RepRap machine, you can use it to make another and give that one to a friend…

The RepRap project became widely known after a large press coverage in March 2005, though the idea goes back to a paper on the web written by Adrian Bowyer on 2 February 2004.

RepRap Version 1.0 “Darwin” can be built by anyone now – see the Make your own RepRap link there or on the left, and for ways to get the bits and pieces you need, see the Obtaining Parts link.”

Mais na Wikipedia.  Parte importante:

Limitations of self-replication

Although it appears likely that RepRap will be able to autonomously construct much of its mechanical components in the near future using fairly low-level resources, it would still require an external supply of several currently non-replicable components such as sensors, stepper motors or microcontrollers. A certain percentage of such devices will have to be produced independently of the RepRap self-replicating process. The goal is, however, to asymptotically approach a 100% replication over a series of evolutionary generations. As one example, from the onset of the project the RepRap team has explored a variety of approaches to integrating electrically conductive media into the product. Success on this initiative should open the door to the inclusion of connective wiring, printed circuit boards and possibly even motors in RepRapped products[10]. Variations in the nature of the extruded, electrically conductive media could produce electrical components with different functions than pure conductive traces not unlike what was done in John Sargrove’s sprayed-circuit process of the 1940s (also known as Electronic Circuit Making Equipment or ECME).” [grifo meu]

Pois é.

nuke_prevedred

Aporcalipse

Ok, nada de pânico. Pelo menos por enquanto.  Agora, sem exagerar, é claro.

Afinal, em tempos de gripe, aviária, suína ou porcina, o importante é saber COMO TOSSIR:  

61492335

(clique para ampliar)

Ou, a guerra dos pavilhões.

(hat tip do gerador de passagens de primeira classe: Alto Volta)

ht_terminator_070105_ssh

Sue me if you can!

Felix Salmon, comentando o provável default do estado da Califórnia:

The more powerful argument why California won’t default is that a payment default is illegal under state law: California’s simply not allowed to default on its bonds. But what are the monolines going to do, sue? If California defaults on say a $1 billion payment which the monolines have to pay, then California owes the monolines $1 billion. If the monolines sue the state and win, then California owes the monolines $1 billion. It’s not clear that they’ve advanced very far. Could they start attaching state assets? I doubt it, somehow.

My hope is that the monolines would get their money back reasonably quickly – the unintended consequences of a default would force California’s dysfunctional legislature to wake up to the pettiness of its actions, and serious fiscal policies might finally be able to be passed. But I can’t say that outcome is particularly probable: the California legislature has shown no signs of being grown-up in the past, or even of moving in that direction.

And indeed the really nasty unintended consequences of a Californian default might well be felt outside the state, with the closing down of the municipal bond market nationally. Once California defaults, it’s hard to see any other state raising private general-obligation funds at any kind of interest rate it would consider acceptable.

Which brings us back to the moral-hazard play: maybe the Feds would bail out California, not for California’s sake, but rather for the sake of the municipal bond markets as a whole. But it’s hard to see where they would get the money, or how Congress would ever approve such an appropriation.”

(via Clusterstock)

lolcat-i-can-has-tweets

Descrição do curso:

As print takes its place alongside smoke signals, cuneiform, and hollering, there has emerged a new literary age, one in which writers no longer need to feel encumbered by the paper cuts, reading, and excessive use of words traditionally associated with the writing trade. Writing for Nonreaders in the Postprint Era focuses on the creation of short-form prose that is not intended to be reproduced on pulp fibers.

Instant messaging. Twittering. Facebook updates. These 21st-century literary genres are defining a new “Lost Generation” of minimalists who would much rather watch Lost on their iPhones than toil over long-winded articles and short stories. Students will acquire the tools needed to make their tweets glimmer with a complete lack of forethought, their Facebook updates ring with self-importance, and their blog entries shimmer with literary pithiness. All without the restraints of writing in complete sentences. w00t! w00t! Throughout the course, a further paring down of the Hemingway/Stein school of minimalism will be emphasized, limiting the superfluous use of nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, conjunctions, gerunds, and other literary pitfalls.”

Pré-requisitos:

Students must have completed at least two of the following.

ENG: 232WR-Advanced Tweeting: The Elements of Droll
LIT: 223-Early-21st-Century Literature: 140 Characters or Less
ENG: 102-Staring Blankly at Handheld Devices While Others Are Talking
ENG: 301-Advanced Blog and Book Skimming
ENG: 231WR-Facebook Wall Alliteration and Assonance
LIT: 202-The Literary Merits of Lolcats
LIT: 209-Internet-Age Surrealistic Narcissism and Self-Absorption

Syllabus aqui.

(hat tip: Nick Carr)

acordortografico

(clique para ampliar)

Deu no Financial Times:

Twitter is benefiting from all that attention. Visitors to Twitter.com surged 131 per cent in March to 9.3m, suggesting that more than being just a fad, Twitter could in fact be going mainstream.”

***

Haverá esperança fora do Twitter?  E quem não couber em 140 caracteres, como fica?

Adiciono uma reflexão do Nick Carr (todos os grifos são meus):

Twitter is the telegraph system of Web 2.0. Like Morse’s machine, it limits messages to very brief strings of text. But whereas the telegraph imposed its limit through the market’s will – priced by the word, telegraph messages were too expensive to waste – Twitter imposes its limit through the iron law of code. Each message may include no more than 140 characters. As you type your message – your “tweet,” in Twitterese – in the Twitter messaging box, a counter lets you know how many characters you have left. (That last sentence wouldn’t quite have made the cut. It has 146 characters. Faulkner would have been a disaster as a Twitterer.)

Only on the length of each message is a limit imposed. Because there’s no charge to send a message and no protocol governing the frequency of posting, you can send as many tweets as you want. The telegraph required you to stop and ask yourself: Is this worth it? Twitter says: Everything’s worth it! (If you’re sending or receiving tweets on your cell phone, though, you best have an all-you-can eat messaging plan; Twitter is, among other things, a killer app for the wireless oligopoly.) You can also send each tweet to as large an audience as you want, and the recipients are free to read it via mobile phone, instant messaging, RSS, or web site. Twitter unbundles the blog, fragments the fragment. It broadcasts the text message, turns SMS into a mass medium.

And what exactly are we broadcasting? The minutiae of our lives. The moment-by-moment answer to what is, in Twitterland, the most important question in the world: What are you doing? Or, to save four characters: What you doing? Twitter is the telegraph of Narcissus. Not only are you the star of the show, but everything that happens to you, no matter how trifling, is a headline, a media event, a stop-the-presses bulletin. Quicksilver turns to amber.”

O resto, aqui.  Mas ressalto esta passagem:

Being online means being alone, and being in an online community means being alone together. The community is purely symbolic, a pixellated simulation conjured up by software to feed the modern self’s bottomless hunger. Hunger for what? For verification of its existence? No, not even that. For verification that it has a role to play.

“Deserto do Real” é pouco.

***

Porque diabos 140 caracteres, e não 150 ou 130?  Alguém sabe? (talvez este seja um bom lugar para começar a descobrir)

***

Esse Primeiro de Abril do Guardian foi ótimo _ inclusive a idéia de reescrever os arquivos da publicação em twitterês desde o seu início em 1821:

  • “1832 Reform Act gives voting rights to one in five adult males yay!!!”;
  • “OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare war see tinyurl.com/b5x6e for more”;
  • “JFK assassin8d @ Dallas, def. heard second gunshot from grassy knoll WTF?”

E o discurso de Martin Luther King:

 “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by“.

Pois é:

Google Disables Uploads, Comments on YouTube Korea

Google has disabled user uploads and comments on the Korean version of its YouTube video portal in reaction to a new law that requires the real name of a contributor be listed along each contribution they make.

The rules, part of a Cyber Defamation Law, came into effect on April 1 for all sites with over 100,000 unique visitors per day. It requires that users provide their real name and national ID card number.

In response to the requirements Google has stopped users from uploading via its Korean portal rather than start a new registration system.

***

A lei coreana foi motivada, em princípio, pela pressão por uma defesa contra o ciber-bulling, após alguns eventos dramáticos como o suicídio de uma popular estrela que foi identificada na rede como a culpada pelo suicídio de um colega que lhe devia dinheiro.   Meritório motivo, mas será que os benefícios compensam as desvantagens?   Até porque esse é um caminho que as autoridades brasileiras parecem dispostas a copiar:

Ministério da Justiça propõe mais restrições na Internet
Proposta em estudo obriga provedores a guardar por três anos todas as informações sobre navegação dos usuários

Se depender da vontade do governo, a lei de crimes da internet será muito mais restritiva do que gostariam os senadores. Na minuta do projeto, o Ministério da Justiça quer que os provedores de acesso mantenham por três anos todos os dados de tráfego de seus usuários. Ou seja: que hora se conectou à internet, em que sites entrou e quanto tempo ficou.

O Congresso em Foco teve acesso ontem, com exclusividade, a um trecho da minuta elaborada pelo MJ. O texto modifica a redação do artigo 22 do substitutivo ao Projeto de Lei 84/99, elaborado pelo senador Eduardo Azeredo (PSDB-MG). É justamente essa parte da peça em tramitação na Câmara que tem causado polêmica entre internautas e sociedade civil, pois obriga os provedores de acesso a armazenarem os dados de conexão dos usuários.

Agora, o MJ, influenciado por setores da Polícia Federal e da Agência Brasileira de Inteligência (Abin), quer radicalizar. Pelo substitutivo do senador tucano, ficariam guardados os horários de log on (entrada) e log off (saída). Já na minuta do ministério, além de todos os dados de tráfego, os provedores seriam obrigados a registrar o nome completo, filiação e número de registro de pessoa física ou jurídica.” [grifo meu]

No Brasil, o incentivo para a busca de uma tal solução vem menos do ciber-bulling do que dos crimes pela internet.  Objetivo também meritório, mas como vemos, a coisa pode tresandar.

Is nothing sacred? Do Slashdot:

“The NY Times reports that the proliferation of free or low-cost games on the Web and for phones limits how high the major game publishers can set prices, so makers are sometimes unable to charge enough to cover the cost of producing titles. The cost of making a game for the previous generation of machines was about $10 million, not including marketing. The cost of a game for the latest consoles is over twice that – $25 million is typical, and it can be much more. Reggie Fils-Aime, chief marketing officer for Nintendo of America, says publishers of games for its Wii console need to sell one million units of a game to turn a profit, but the majority of games, analysts said, sell no more than 150,000 copies. Developers would like to raise prices to cover development costs, but Mike McGarvey, former chief executive of Eidos and now an executive with OnLive, says that consumers have been looking at console games and saying, ‘This is too expensive and there are too many choices.’ Since makers cannot charge enough or sell enough games to cover the cost of producing most titles, video game makers have to hope for a blockbuster. ‘The model as it exists is dying,’ says McGarvey.” [grifos meus]

Mais um entrenimento migrando para a nuvem??

Deu no Estadão:

EUA devem injetar US$ 6 bi na Chrysler e agilizar fusão com Fiat
Governo pressionou pela demissão de presidente da GM, mas não se pronunciou sobre ajuda à empresa

WASHINGTON – O governo dos Estados Unidos deve injetar US$ 6 bilhões na Chrysler para ajudar o fluxo de caixa da empresa por um mês. Em troca, a montadora deve agilizar sua fusão com a Fiat, informaram nesta segunda-feira, 30, membros do grupo de trabalho que discute o resgate à indústria automobilística na Casa Branca.” [grifo meu]

Será que vão trocar meu humilde (e econômico) Palio por um Dakota??  No, thanks!

dow666

Cheiro de enxofre

E depois o Paulo diz que o fim do mundo não está próximo…

(hat tip: PMF)

bicicleta31

Via Ritholtz:

 

  • GM’s sales fell 53%
  • Ford’s sales dropped 48%
  • Toyota’s declined 40%
  • Volkswagen U.S. fell 18%;
  • Nissan sales dropped 37%
  • Mercedes-Benz posted a 21% decline
  • BMW’s total car sales fell about 24%
  • Honda sales dropped 40%

070705lakecheko

Vista do Viaduto do Chá, dezembro de 2009

Sempre pode piorar, certo?  Deu no Physorg:

Space rock gives Earth a close shave

2009 DD45, estimated to be between 21 and 47 meters (68 and 152 feet) across, raced by at 1344 GMT on Monday, the Planetary Society and astronomers’ blogs reported.

The gap was just 72,000 kilometers (44,750 miles), or a fifth of the distance between Earth and the Moon and only twice the height of satellites in geosynchronous orbit, the website space.com said.

The estimated size is similar to that of an asteroid or comet that exploded above Tunguska, Siberia, on June 30 1908, flattening 80 million trees in a swathe of more than 2,000 square kilometres (800 square miles).

2009 DD45 was spotted last Saturday by astronomers at the Siding Spring Survey in Australia, and was verified by the International Astronomical Union’s Minor Planet Centre (MPC), which catalogues Solar System rocks.

The closest flyby listed by the MPC is 2004 FU162, a small asteroid about six metres (20 feet) across which came within about 6,500 kms (4,000 miles) of us in March 2004.” [grifo meu]

***

E a gente brincando com essas coisas.

No Balkinization, a última receita para salvar o jornalismo investigativo:

It will take decades to revitalise investigative journalism if we allow the present corps of reporters to disintegrate. This is happening at an alarming rate. A Pew study indicates that 15,000 journalists lost their jobs in the US in 2008, with reductions of more than 20% at large newspapers. These grim numbers are harbingers of a worldwide crisis that undermines the very foundation of liberal democracy. Any serious solution should focus exclusively on this problem – the collapse of investigative journalism, not the fate of particular delivery systems.

The problem with a BBC-style solution is clear enough. It is one thing for government to serve as one source of investigation but quite another for it to dominate the field. A near-monopoly would mean the death of critical inquiry.

There are serious problems with private endowments as well. For starters, there is the matter of scale. Pro Publica, an innovative private foundation for investigative reporting, is currently funding 28 journalists. It is hard to make the case for a massive increase in private funding when university endowments are crashing throughout the world, imperilling basic research. More fundamentally, a system of private endowments creates perverse incentives. Insulated from the profit motive, the endowments will pursue their own agendas without paying much attention to the issues that the public really cares about.

Here is where our system of national endowments enters the argument. In contrast to current proposals, we do not rely on public or private do-gooders to dole out money to their favourite journalists. Each national endowment would subsidise investigations on a strict mathematical formula based on the number of citizens who actually read their reports on news sites.

***

Tenho minhas dúvidas.

A grande notícia da blogoseira econômica d´além mar é que Greg Mankiw aparentemente passou pro lado dos que acham que é preciso estatizar o sistema bancário norte-americano.  Deu na Yves:

Mankiw thus favors nationalization, or what he calls, following Calculated Risk, “pre-privatization”, as the best fudge we can come up with in lieu of having a regulatory/bankruptcy regime that addresses the peculiar nature of large, possibly systemically important, trading organizations.

Então fica combinado:  vamos pré-privatizar o sistema bancário para evitar que o ruminante ungulado se dirija ao terreno pantanoso.

Reconfortante, porém macabro:

When light strikes your eyes, it takes some hundreds of milliseconds before you become conscious of the event. As a consequence, you are always living in the past. This strange fact of our existence is well known is neuroscience, but there’s an interesting, underappreciated consequence: you may not ever become aware of the thing that kills you.

Cormac McCarthy addresses this point in his post-apocalyptic novel The Road, in a scene in which the main character has his pistol leveled on a miscreant. The malefactor challenges: “you won’t shoot….they [my companions] will hear the shot.”

The protagonist replies, “Yes they will. But you won’t.”

“How do you figure that?”

“Because the bullet travels faster than sound. It will be in your brain before you can hear it. To hear it you will need a frontal lobe and things with names like colliculus and temporal gyrus and you won’t have them anymore. They’ll just be soup.“‘

***

E essa descrição passo a passo de uma colisão automobilística é fantástica:

0 milliseconds – An external object touches the driver’s door.
1 ms – The car’s door pressure sensor detects a pressure wave.
2 ms – An acceleration sensor in the C-pillar behind the rear door also detects a crash event.
2.5 ms – A sensor in the car’s centre detects crash vibrations.
5 ms – Car’s crash computer checks for insignificant crash events, such as a shopping trolley impact or incidental contact. It is still working out the severity of the crash. Door intrusion structure begins to absorb energy.
6.5 ms – Door pressure sensor registers peak pressures.
7 ms – Crash computer confirms a serious crash and calculates its actions.
8 ms – Computer sends a “fire” signal to side airbag. Meanwhile, B-pillar begins to crumple inwards and energy begins to transfer into cross-car load path beneath the occupant.
8.5 ms – Side airbag system fires.
15 ms – Roof begins to absorb part of the impact. Airbag bursts through seat foam and begins to fill.
17 ms – Cross-car load path and structure under rear seat reach maximum load.
Airbag covers occupant’s chest and begins to push the shoulder away from impact zone.
20 ms – Door and B-pillar begin to push on front seat. Airbag begins to push occupant’s chest away from the impact.
27 ms – Impact velocity has halved from 50 km/h to 23.5 km/h. A “pusher block” in the seat moves occupant’s pelvis away from impact zone. Airbag starts controlled deflation.
30 ms – The Falcon has absorbed all crash energy. Airbag remains in place. For a brief moment, occupant experiences maximum force equal to 12 times the force of gravity.
45 ms – Occupant and airbag move together with deforming side structure.
50 ms – Crash computer unlocks car’s doors. Passenger safety cell begins to rebound, pushing doors away from occupant.
70 ms – Airbag continues to deflate. Occupant moves back towards middle of car.
Engineers classify crash as “complete”.

150-300 ms – Occupant becomes aware of collision.” [grifo meu]

***

Esse é o motivo pelo qual sempre achei insatisfatórias e pouco críveis as histórias de ficção pós-singularidade onde existem interações entre o mundo físico e as realidades virtuais.  Consciências que “passem para o silício” serão provavelmente muito mais rápidas do que os processos físicos, inclusive do que as mentes ainda presas em tecido biológico.   Portanto interações entre humanos e pós-humanos (e pensando bem, entre humanos e IA´s) serão incrivelmente aborrecidas para o lado não-humano da interação _ seria como conversar com uma pessoa que vive em slow-motion.

Provavelmente é por isso que eles vão nos odiar e nos exterminar.  🙂

17lede_yoda_icon1

Porque a estrela da morte está a caminho:

We are facing a Depression that will last 23-26 years. The response of government is going to seal our fate because they cannot learn from the past and will make the same mistakes that every politician has made before them.”

Deu no Financial Times.  Ao que eu saiba é a primeira vez que uma empresa petrolífera fala disso nesse tom:

Total diz que pico de produção de petróleo está próximo

O mundo nunca mais será capaz de produzir mais de 89m barris de petróleo por dia, advertiu o chefe  do terceiro maior grupo energético da Europa, citando altos custos em áreas como o Canadá e restrições políticas em países como o Irão eo Iraque. 

Christophe de Margerie, chefe executivo da Total, a companhia francesa de petróleo e gás, afirmou que tinha revisto para baixo a sua previsão da produção de petróleo para 2015  em pelo menos 4m barris por dia devido à atual crise econômica e da queda dos preços do petróleo.”

Abaixo do folder, íntegra (em inglês).

Continue lendo »

Via Clusterstock, fico sabendo de um artigo do NYT que põe em seu devido foco o real impacto dos limites de remuneração que o pacote de Obama está impondo às empresas financeiras que aceitarem socorro do governo.

O artigo do NYT simplesmente estima qual a renda necessária para alguém viver uma vida de classe média alta no Upper East Side de Manhattan.  Eis a memória de cálculo:

  • Two vacations a year, sun and slopes: $16,000.
  • Modest three-bedroom apartment for $1.5 million [very modest]. Monthly mortgage of about $8,000 and a co-op maintenance fee of $8,000 a month. Total cost: $192,000. 
  • Summer house in Southampton for $4 million, annual mortgage payments of $240,000.
  • Car and driver. Chauffeurs make $75,000 – $125,000 a year, more if you want one with a gun. Garage for the car is $700 a month.
  • Personal trainer at $80/hr, 3X a week: $12,000 a year.
  • Ball gowns for charity galas. Total cost for three: about $35,000.
  • Tutor to supplement $32,000 private school to ensure admission to Ivy League: 30 weeks for $3,750.
  • Two children in private school: $64,000.
  • Nanny: $45,000.
  • Food. $15,000.
  • Incidentals: Restaurants. Dry cleaning. Suits. Dog walking. Kennels. Furniture. Computers. Gifts. Doorman tips. Parking tickets. Walking around money.

Total: US$ 1,6 milhão, antes dos impostos.

O problema:

Five hundred thousand dollars — the amount President Obama wants to set as the top pay for banking executives whose firms accept government bailout money — seems like a lot, and it is a lot. To many people in many places, it is a princely sum to live on. But in the neighborhoods of New York City and its suburban enclaves where successful bankers live, half a million a year can go very fast.

Sério: dá até pena.  Pior mesmo deve ser ter que ouvir isto:

Dawn Spinner Davis, 26, a beauty writer, said the downward-trending graphs began to make sense when the man she married on Nov. 1, a 28-year-old private wealth manager, stopped playing golf, once his passion. “One of his best friends told me that my job is now to keep him calm and keep him from dying at the age of 35,” Ms. Davis said. “It’s not what I signed up for.”

4753607

Na Wired, uma reportagem sobre as censuras feitas por um especialista em contra-insurgência à continuidade do ataque a posições no Paquistão por “drones”, avionetas não-tripuladas:

For months, Pakistani leaders have complained, loudly, about American drone strikes on their territory. Now, an influential adviser to American policymakers is raising his voice against the unmanned attacks, too.

“If we want to strengthen our friends and weaken our enemies in Pakistan, bombing Pakistani villages with unmanned drones is totally counterproductive,” Dr. David Kilcullen tells Danger Room. Kilcullen, a former Australian colonel, is considered one of the leading thinkers on counterinsurgency, providing advice to both U.S. Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus and former Secretary of State Condolleeza Rice.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, have struck targets in Pakistan at least 40 times in the last year. The most recent attack came just days after President Obama was sworn in. Twenty-two people were reportedly killed in the strike.

U.S. officials say the drones have taken out dozens of militants who were undermining American efforts in the region. Perhaps so, Kilcullen acknowledges. But using drones to attack those militants “increase the number and radicalism of Pakistanis who support extremism, and thus undermine the key strategic program of building a willing and capable partner in Pakistan,” he writes in Monday’s Small Wars Journalblog. Kilcullen gave much the same message, in testimony last week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”

***

Pode ser que os militares resolvam parar com isso por algum tempo.   Mas…a tecnologia avança, torna tudo mais fácil e…prevejo que a coisa vai piorar.

Porque hoje qualquer nerd já pode construir seu próprio “drone”:

This is a site for all things about amateur Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): How-to’s, videos, discussion and more.You can read more about ushere. Sign up and post your own articles and discussion topics!

Among other things, this is where we list all the parts, software and instructions to build each of our UAVs.

Não é bacana?

Nas discussões internas do site DIYDrones, os membros mostram que estão totalmente cientes da possibilidade do uso militar dos seus brinquedos, e procuram bloquear discussões do gênero.  Isto só mostra, porém, que a coisa já está literalmente sobre nós.

Mas a coisa, claro, não para por aí.  Há a questão da privacidade.  E há indicações de que nos EUA a polícia já testa o uso deste tipo de equipamento.

Mais: já existe uma empresa, Pict´Earth, fundada por David Ralliant, que especializou-se em fazer fotos aéreas e integrá-las ao Google Earth.  Eis aqui alguns exemplos.  Lembre-se que esta tecnologia, como eu disse, já está ao alcance de qualquer nerd.

Deu no Daily Kos:

USA was 3 hrs away from Economic, Political Collapse in September 2008

According to Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D) (PA-11), in mid-September of 2008, the United States of America came just three hours away from the collapse of the entire economy. In a span of 2 hours, $550 billion was drawn out of money market accounts in an electronic run on the banks.

Rep. Kanjorski: “It would have been the end of our economic system and our political system as we know it.”

Kanjorski’s bombshell begins to detonate at roughly 2:10 into the video.”

***

Kanjorski está no Comitê de Serviços Financeiros da Câmara desde 1985.  Deve saber do que está falando.  Na verdade, ele ouviu isso da boca de quem interessava:

It was about September 15th [sic]. … On Thursday at about 11 o’clock in the morning the Federal Reserve noticed a tremendous drawdown of, uh, money market accounts in the United States to the tune of $550-billion was being drawn out in in a matter of an hour or two.

The Treasury opened up its window to help, and pumped in $105-billion into the system, and quickly realized it could not stem the tide. We were having an electronic run on the banks. They decided to close down the operation, to close down the money accounts. … If they had not done that, in their estimation, by 2 PM that afternoon $5.5-trillion would have been withdrawn and would have collapsed the U.S. economy and within 24 hours the world economy would have collapsed.

We talked at that time about what would have happened. It would have been the end of our economic and our political system as we know it.

***

E pensar que por essa mesma época alguns headless chickens buscavam auto-ajuda na Suécia

Se metade for verdade já dá pra ficar preocupado.

Unnatural Selection: Evolving, Improving, Implacable Robots

It’s official: robotics scientists are now just daring the things to kill us. An Aberdeen University have built a robot programmed to fulfill one objective no matter what, to evolve in order to do so, and to make use of extra materials when they’re available. We’re assuming the only reason they didn’t call it “Terminator” is because they don’t have enough to kill all the MGM lawyers. Yet.

You know how it took organics, hereafter referred to as “puny fleshlings”, millions of years to learn to walk on two legs? The Incremental Evolutionary Algorithm (IEA) equipped robot learned in less than a day. When the research team added knees to the legs it re-learned, making use of what it had already learned about hips.

The robot uses a neural network to iterate solutions to problems. The evolutionary aspect is how it can just “decide” to add more neurons whenever the situation changes. The addition of new joints, limbs or even senses just creates a bigger, smarter and more-able-to-see-you robot. It can also lock itself into a specific configuration when it decides things are as good as they’re going to get and unlock again as needed.

The system does have a weakness: if it tries to learn too fast, learning new behaviours with its whole brain instead of the newly created sections, it demands too much computing power and grinds to a halt. And that means we’re safe forever, because it’s not like computers ever increase in power.

Team leader Christopher MacLeod is now working on a system where the robot can not only adapt to new bodies, but learn to instruct its human slaves, sorry, “creators” in how many limbs and other components it feels it needs. We can only hope they know to say “no” when this list includes a Remington 1100 Autoloader, an Uzi 9 millimeter, and a phased plasma pulse laser in the forty watt range.”

Para você, que andava tranquilhinho:  como o Large Hadron Collider atrasou (por defeito em alguns dos magnetos do treco), o pessoal andou tendo tempo para fazer mais uns cálculos…e alguns físicos chegaram à conclusão de que os miniburacos negros criados pelo acelerador até podem durar alguns segundos.  Na Scientific American:

One corollary of the delayed start-up of theLarge Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator, is that it gives physicists—and the rest of the world—more time to mull the much-discussed possibility that the LHC could produce Earth-gobbling black holes. 

In a paper posted recently to arxiv.org,physicist Roberto Casadio of the University of Bologna in Italy and his co-authors argue against such a scenario. But the bulk of the attention following their analysis has focused on their observation that microscopic LHC black holes, should they arise, could persist for seconds before decaying. (To wit, Fox News’s story headlined: “Scientists Not So Sure ‘Doomsday Machine’ Won’t Destroy World.”)” [grifo meu]

Pra nossa sorte, apenas algumas das várias teorias concorrentes predizem a formação de miniburacos negros pelo LHC.  Não é reconfortante?

Um texto interessante na Wired: uma entrevista com a autora do livro  Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, mais um título, imagino, na linha do The Shallows do Nick Carr.

Idéia geral: nossa cibersociedade gerou uma “cultura da interrupção”, onde o contínuo fluxo de informações sob a forma de e-mails, SMS´s, videochamadas etc torna-se a norma, e a capacidade de concentração e de pensamento criativo vão ladeira abaixo.

Sem dúvida, esse tipo de pessimismo ressurge com o advento de qualquer nova tecnologia, e é preciso lembrar que houve gregos ilustres falando contra a escrita.  Mas eu acho que as novas preocupações não são desprovidas de alguma motivação:

Wired.com: Is there an actual scientific basis of attention?

Maggie Jackson: In the last 30 or 40 years, scientists have made inroads into understanding its underlying mechanisms and physiology. Attention is now considered an organ system. It has its own circuitry in the brain, and there are specialized networks carrying out its different forms. Each is very specific and can be traced through neuroimaging and even some genetic research.

The first type of attention is orientation — the flashlight of your mind. It involves the parietal lobe, a brain area related to sensory processing, which works with brain sections related to frontal eye fields. This is what develops in an infants’ brain, allowing them to focus on something new in their environment.

The second type of attention spans the spectrum of response states, from sleepiness to complete alertness. The third type is executive attention: planning, judgment, resolving conflicting information. The heart of this is the anterior cingulate — an ancient, tiny part of the brain that is now at the heart of our higher-order skills. It’s executive attention that lets us move us beyond our impulsive selves, to plan for the future and understand abstraction.

We are programmed to be interrupted. We get an adrenalin jolt when orienting to new stimuli: Our body actually rewards us for paying attention to the new. So in this very fast-paced world, it’s easy and tempting to always react to the new thing. But when we live in a reactive way, we minimize our capacity to pursue goals.

05fridge-500

Linha branca pra quê?

Ainda na Slashdot:

“Rather than let their sewage go to waste, the city of Oslo recently announced that it plans to cut carbon emissions by converting 80 public buses to run on biomethane generated from raw sewage. The city plans to adapt two sewage plans with the technology this September, and the new biogas buses will be quieter and will cut 44 tones of C02 per bus per year.”

Aliás, outro dia vi um programa na TV sobre como na Suécia os esgotos estão ligados aos sistemas de produção de energia.  Os caras não brincam em serviço.

Enquanto isso, um artigo interessante no NYT sobre os verdes que resolveram viver no mundo pós-geladeira:

As drastic as the move might seem, a small segment of the green movement has come to regard the refrigerator as an unacceptable drain on energy, and is choosing to live without it. In spite of its ubiquity — 99.5 percent of American homes have one — these advocates say the refrigerator is unnecessary, as long as one is careful about shopping choices and food storage.

A “rapture para nerds” já tem até escola própria.  Deu no Valor:

Google e Nasa abrem escola para ‘futuristas’

O Google e a Nasa estão por trás de uma nova escola para futuristas no Vale do Silício, que vai preparar cientistas para uma era em que as máquinas se tornarão mais inteligentes que o Homem.

A nova instituição, conhecida como Singularity University (Universidade da Singularidade), será comandada por Ray Kurzweil, cujas previsões sobre o ritmo exponencial das mudanças tecnológicas fizeram dele uma figura controvertida nos círculos tecnológicos.

O apoio do Google e da Nasa demonstra a crescente aceitação dos pontos de vista de Kurzweil entre as correntes científicas predominantes. Kurzweil afirma que antes da metade deste século, a inteligência artificial vai superar os seres humanos, lançando a civilização em uma nova era. A Singularity University vai funcionar no Ames Research Center da Nasa, que fica bem perto da Googleplex, a sede da Google. Ela vai oferecer cursos de biotecnologia, nanotecnologia e inteligência artificial.

A chamada “singularidade” é um período teórico de rápido progresso tecnológico num futuro próximo. Kurzweil, um inventor americano, popularizou o termo em seu livro “The Singularity is Near” (A Singularidade Se Aproxima), lançado em 2005.

Os defensores afirmam que durante a singularidade, as máquinas serão capazes de se aperfeiçoar usando a inteligência artificial e que computadores mais inteligentes que o Homem resolverão problemas como a escassez de energia, as mudanças climáticas e a fome.

Mesmo assim, muitos críticos afirmam que a singularidade é perigosa. Alguns temem que uma inteligência artificial maligna possa aniquilar a raça humana.

Kurzweil diz que a universidade foi lançada agora porque muitas tecnologias estão se aproximando de um momento de avanço radical. “Estamos chegando na parte mais íngreme da curva”, afirma. “A questão não envolve apenas produtos eletrônicos e computadores. É qualquer tecnologia em que possamos medir o conteúdo da informação, como a genética.”“.” [grifo meu]

***

Quem poderia imaginar?  Sempre se acreditou que Skynet dominaria o mundo a partir do momento em que ganhasse controle sobre as armas nucleares.  Mas na verdade sua estratégia será muito mais sutil e insidiosa; Skynet dominará o mundo a partir da máquina de busca do Google.

Sim, sim, imagine uma vasta e maligna inteligência dissimuladamente nos observando da própria interwebs, anotando cuidadosamente cada busca que você já fez na sua vida.  Imagine que essa vasta inteligência de repente comece a usar os padrões detectados nas suas buscas para te convencer a fazer coisas que você não pensaria em fazer se estivesse em seu estado normal _ como comprar aquela batedeira com vinte velocidades e freio ABS, por exemplo.

Skynet nos dominará dominando nossos cartões de crédito.

***

Se for assim não há a menor dúvida de que se este texto chegar aos sobreviventes humanos do futuro,  será objeto de muita raiva e frustração.

***

Então vocês já sabem: se algum dia a tal escola _ ou o próprio Googleplex _ for pelos ares, a culpada é Sarah Connor.

E o mar de plástico continua crescendo:

It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as continental United States,” he says.

(…)

If the waste is to be controlled people must stop using unnecessary disposable plastics, otherwise it is set to double in size during the next 10 years, Moore warns.

todosleds

E, na era da iluminação com LED´s, vemos isto:

Royal society hunts for Britain’s oldest working lightbulb

The search is on for Britain’s oldest working lightbulb, still glowing after many decades – and possibly beating what are claimed to be the world’s oldest working bulbs in the US, both allegedly still burning after a century.

It will pain the Royal Society of Chemistry if there isn’t an older bulb somewhere among Britain’s estimated 903.6m domestic bulbs, given that it was a British scientist and inventor who first demonstrated a working lightbulb, at a Literary and Philosophical Society lecture in Newcastle upon Tyne, on 3 February 1879.

On Monday, the 130th anniversary, the chemists will present a Chemical Landmark plaque to the Newcastle society, where a replica of Joseph Swan’s pioneering design will be lit.

Although the American Thomas Edison is generally credited with inventing the incandescent light bulb, in fact Swan and Edison were working neck and neck on opposite sides of the Atlantic, and after bitter patent battles, eventually joined forces to form what became the Swan and Edison corporation.

By late 1879 Swan was installing light bulbs in homes and institutions across England, and at the time of his death in 1914 millions of buildings were lit by electricity.

The Society of Chemistry has heard anecdotes of ancient working bulbs, but is now offering a £500 reward for the oldest authenticated one in Britain. In the US a lightbulb at Livermore fire station in California is said to have been donated and installed in 1901, and is still burning. Another bulb, installed at the Fort Worth Palace theatre on 21 September 1908, is now in a museum, but still working.” [grifo meu]

***

Eis aí um belo testemunho da diferença entre o fim da segunda revolução industrial e o fim da terceira: minhas lâmpadas aqui em casa não duram mais de um ano nem a pau.  Obsolescência programada é isso aê.

***

Eu já falei de lâmpadas de LED aqui. De lá pra cá parece que aumentaram bastante a eficiência e caíram bastante de preço.   O problema que identifiquei ali _ sua alta durabilidade _ pode não ser um problema se:

a) embutirem obsolescência programada no produto;

b) se a maior eficiência não se traduzir em menor gasto _ apenas em muito mais luzes nas casas e nas ruas. Too bad para a poluição luminosa (site bacana aqui, mapa interessante aqui).

***

Eu mudei-me para uma casa vai fazer 3 anos.   Assim que me mudei, fiquei maravilhado com o número de estrelas que via do quintal à noite _ dava pra ver inclusive a própria Via Láctea, uma experiência que urbanóides como nós só costuma ter indo pro meio do mato.  Em apenas três anos, boa parte das estrelas que eu via, inclusive a Via Láctea, desapareceram _ graças à mudança da iluminação na estrada ao lado.

***

Aqui, um cara ensina a fazer lâmpadas de LED caseiras…

manhattan-flood-30789

E depois o Paulo acha que EU sou um alarmista:

What would happen if you awoke one morning and everyone was dead? Or if, less melodramatically, the world as we know it – and our teetering financial systems – ceased to function? What if you awoke to find your bubble-wrapped, gilded life was over, and for good? Could you survive? Could I?

I am an urban girl. I have no skills except whingeing and bingeing. I can barely open a packet of Hobnobs without an explosive device. But, unlike you, doomed and dying reader, I have decided to prepare for The End, and I am prepared to share the life-saving knowledge I will accrue. This is your cut-out-and-keep guide to the apocalypse. Put it in a drawer. One day you may need it.”

Guardian: Life after the apocalypse.

***

Mas a coisa tem seu lado bom:

It’s not all bad: Fun things you could do after the apocalypse

• Pop into the National Gallery and take Jan Van Eyck’s Portrait of a Man off the wall. (If you have no taste, take a Renoir.) The Van Eyck is hanging in the Sainsbury Wing. If you want to preserve it properly, Thomas Almeroth-Williams of the National Gallery suggests you store it in a slate mine, where the temperature and humidity levels are perfect for its conservation.

• Go to the British Library and help yourself to one of its two copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio. One is in a box in a strong room under the library floor; the other is in a glass case in the Treasure Room. If you want to preserve it properly, Helen Shenton of the British Library suggests you store it in a cool, dark place, and watch it carefully for infestations by animals or fungi. Dust regularly.

• Steal the crown jewels. If you can. “There are contingency plans in place in event of a power failure,” says a Royal Palaces spokesperson, “so the crown jewels should remain safe.” Really? To preserve them properly, do nothing. A diamond is for ever.

• Invade the News of the World – it’s in Wapping – and read all its secret files. Then break into M15. It’s on Millbank. Read all its secret files too. Oh, no! She was murdered! I knew it!

• Go and stand on the stage at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Skip over the bodies of the dead actors. Re-enact the whole of Oliver!

***

O que me traz essa idéia: o que você faria depois do apocalipse?

 

(*) você vai ter que ler o artigo inteiro para, talvez, entender.

julho 2017
D S T Q Q S S
« maio    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  
Add to Technorati Favorites

Blog Stats

  • 1,545,404 hits