Human Brain's Processing Speed Established In a new scientific study, which analyzed human reaction times to various events, it was established that the connections inside the human brain only transported about 60 bits of information per second. The investigation relied on century-old knowledge, which held that the brain's processing speed was intimately related to the amount of time it took for it to complete a task. This duration also reflects the time it takes for the cognitive processes involved in solving a problem to act, Technology Review reports. Reaction times have been a window into the human brain for many years, experts say.One test for reaction times is called a visual lexical decision task. A participant watches a screen, where numerous letters appear. The observer needs to press a button if the string they see is a word or a non-word. The term entropy is used here to describe the amount of information that is needed so that the state of the entire system can be established.
Two charts on technological unemployment Source: Washington's Blog I find this chart very interesting, because it shows how low unemployment was in the early 1900s. I suspect most people don't know this. Here is a chart I put together from ILO data which suggests that even the proportion of the global workforce in work can fall during periods of global GDP growth: And as I have posted elsewhere, the natural level of unemployment, which is a measure of the supposed healthy amount of unemployment in an economy, has been climbing over the last 100 years too. Food for thought I hope.
The Second Gilded Age: Has America Become an Oligarchy? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International At first, the outraged members of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York were mainly met with ridicule. They didn't seem to stand a chance and were judged incapable of going up against their adversaries, Wall Street's bankers and financial managers, either intellectually or in terms of economic knowledge. "We are the 99 percent," is the continuing chant of the protestors, who are now in their seventh week of marching through the streets of Manhattan. And, surprisingly, they have hit upon the crux of America's problems with precisely this sentence. Indeed, they have given shape to a development in the country that has been growing more acute for decades, one that numerous academics and experts have tried to analyze elsewhere in lengthy books and essays. Inequality in America is greater than it has been in almost a century. Those who succeed in the US are congratulated rather than berated. Still, statistics indicate that the growing disparity is genuinely overwhelming.
10 Important Differences Between Brains and Computers : Developing Intelligence “A good metaphor is something even the police should keep an eye on.” – G.C. Lichtenberg Although the brain-computer metaphor has served cognitive psychology well, research in cognitive neuroscience has revealed many important differences between brains and computers. Appreciating these differences may be crucial to understanding the mechanisms of neural information processing, and ultimately for the creation of artificial intelligence. Below, I review the most important of these differences (and the consequences to cognitive psychology of failing to recognize them): similar ground is covered in this excellent (though lengthy) lecture. Difference # 1: Brains are analogue; computers are digital It’s easy to think that neurons are essentially binary, given that they fire an action potential if they reach a certain threshold, and otherwise do not fire. Difference # 2: The brain uses content-addressable memory Difference # 4: Processing speed is not fixed in the brain; there is no system clock
Technology will replace 80% of what doctors do By Vinod Khosla FORTUNE -- Healthcare today is often really the "practice of medicine" rather than the "science of medicine." Take fever as an example. For 150 years, doctors have routinely prescribed antipyretics like ibuprofen to help reduce fever. So when something as basic as fever reduction is a hallmark of the "practice of medicine" and hasn't been challenged for 100+ years, we have to ask: What else might be practiced due to tradition rather than science? Today's diagnoses are partially informed by patients' medical histories and partially by symptoms (but patients are bad at communicating what's really going on). The net effect is patient outcomes that are inferior to and more expensive than what they should be. Healthcare should become more about data-driven deduction and less about trial-and-error. Replacing 80% of what doctors do? Computers are better at organizing and recalling complex information than a hotshot Harvard MD. Don't expect ace diagnosis systems overnight.
New Shark-Fin Pictures Reveal Ocean "Strip Mining" Photograph courtesy Paul Hilton, Pew Environment Group Released October 19, the images show fins and body parts of vulnerable shark species—including the scalloped hammerhead and oceanic whitetip—being prepared for sale. Up to 73 million sharks are caught each year for the global fin trade, which fuels a demand for shark-fin soup, according to Pew. Fishers usually slice the animals' fins off and throw their still-living bodies overboard. (See "Shark Fins Traced to Home Waters Using DNA—A First." ) "Unfortunately, since there are no limits on the number of these animals that can be killed in the open ocean, this activity can continue unabated," Pew's Matt Rand said in a statement. On October 21 the Taiwan Fisheries Agency announced a ban starting next year on shark finning, but the ban only mandates that caught sharks be taken back to shore with their fins still attached. "This announcement is an indication that Taiwan is on the right track when it comes to protecting sharks.
Blog I’ve been working to draw a graph that compares employment trends since the end of the Great Recession with other important trends in the economy, and also with earlier periods. Here’s what I’ve come up with (click on the graph for a bigger pdf version, and click here for a spreadsheet with the graph and all its data): Using data from the invaluable online resource FRED (and with the help of an equally critical real-world resource, my RA Noam Bernstein), I’ve plotted the trends since 1995 in US GPD, total corporate investment in equipment, and total corporate profits from non-financial companies (and also for all companies, including financial ones). I set the January 1995 value for each of these equal to 100 to allow comparisons across them over the years. I also plotted the US employment-population ratio, or percentage of working-age people who have jobs (the axis for this line is on the right-hand side of the graph). Do you agree?
Robot Serves Up 360 Hamburgers Per Hour UPDATE: To read more about how workers will be affected by automation technology, check out Hub's follow up post Burger Robot Poised to Disrupt Fast Food Industry No longer will they say, “He’s going to end up flipping burgers.” Because now, robots are taking even these ignobly esteemed jobs. Alpha machine from Momentum Machines cooks up a tasty burger with all the fixins. With a conveyor belt-type system the burgers are freshly ground, shaped and grilled to the customer’s liking. And while you fret over how many people you invited to the barbecue, Alpha churns out a painless 360 hamburgers per hour. San Francisco-based Momentum Machines claim that using Alpha will save a restaurant enough money that it pays for itself in a year, and it enables the restaurant to spend about twice as much on ingredients as they normally would – so they can buy the gourmet stuff. Source: Momentum Machines You think Americans are obese right now? Peter Murray Peter Murray was born in Boston in 1973. Related
Solving America's teen sex problem - Sex When 16-year-old Natalie first started dating her boyfriend, her mother did something that would mortify most American parents: She took her to the doctor’s office to get her contraceptives. Her mother wasn’t weirded out by the fact that her teen daughter was about to have sex — in fact, she fully supported it. She merely wanted to make sure that she was doing it safely, and responsibly. If that seems like an unfamiliar attitude toward sex and parenting, it might have something to do with the fact that Natalie’s parents aren’t American — they’re Dutch. As Schalet’s extensively researched, fascinating work shows, the Netherlands’ radically different approach to sex and child-rearing has managed to radically decrease levels of teen pregnancy, abortion and sexual infections. Salon spoke to Schalet over the phone about the sexual revolution, America’s “slut” problem and how the new generation is changing our attitudes toward sex. Yes. That’s the million-dollar question. It’s not utopian.
Don't Look Now — the Robots Are Gaining Five Innovations that Could Change the Way We Live, Work and Play To some extent, coverage of robotics is outside the parameters of the mobility beat. But robotics is becoming more real, and traditional mobile devices - cameras, sound equipment and portable computers - are part of the equation. The other reason for covering this area is that it is very cool. The top video shows a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) robot that can climb stairs. This is only the latest feat for PETMAN, which has already mastered walking. Last week, Public Radio International (PRI) reported on something of a twist: Robots that are designed to keep humans safe. Researchers next goal is to develop a robot that can conduct body searches - but they acknowledge the technology isn't yet there, nor are prison systems. The robotic work going on now simply is stunning.
The End of the Web, Search, and Computer as We Know It | Wired Opinion Illustration: Ross Patton/Wired People ask what the next web will be like, but there won’t be a next web. The space-based web we currently have will gradually be replaced by a time-based worldstream. It’s already happening, and it all began with the lifestream, a phenomenon that I (with Eric Freeman) predicted in the 1990s and shared in the pages of Wired almost exactly 16 years ago. This lifestream — a heterogeneous, content-searchable, real-time messaging stream — arrived in the form of blog posts and RSS feeds, Twitter and other chatstreams, and Facebook walls and timelines. It’s a bit like moving from a desktop to a magic diary: Picture a diary whose pages turn automatically, tracking your life moment to moment … Until you touch it, and then, the page-turning stops. Today, this diary-like structure is supplanting the spatial one as the dominant paradigm of the cybersphere: All the information on the internet will soon be a time-based structure. The web will be history.
Questionable Content Questionable Content (abbreviated QC) is a slice of life webcomic written and drawn by Jeph Jacques. It was launched on August 1, 2003. Jacques currently makes his living exclusively from QC merchandising and advertising, making him one of the few professional webcomic artists. By 2004, Jacques was able to support himself and his then fiancée based on income from merchandise and advertising sales. On August 26, 2011, the comic reached its 2000th strip. Background Jeph Jacques, creator of Questionable Content, makes his living off the comic and related merchandise In 2003, Jacques worked at a local Easthampton, Massachusetts, newspaper answering telephones. Publication Style Both the methods of storytelling and the artistic style of the strip have changed considerably since its inception. Jacques spoke on the evolution of his art in an interview at ComixTalk in March 2006: Synopsis Setting Questionable Content takes place in Northampton, Massachusetts.
The Rise of the Artifical-Intelligence Economy - Megan McArdle - Business Adam Ozimek -- blogger at Modeled Behavior and associate at Econsult Corporation As a child I used to read my grandfather's Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines. The constant promise and inevitable disappointment of amazing technologies that mostly never materialized (a problem likely exacerbated by my focus on the amazing and outlandish ones) made me skeptical of futurist predictions. It is somewhat strange then, that I now commonly find myself a proponent of futurist visions equally as grand as those that once made me a cynic. But I'm not alone in seeing the near future as a quickly changing technological landscape. In their recent book Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, MIT's Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee* offer a similarly sweeping view of how technology is, and will be, shaping our future Brynjolfsson and McAfee also cite IBM's Jeopardy!