sandykoe + future   105

Deep Space Network presents reliability questions - Science Mag
For most of its life, the network, run by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, has been metronomic in its reliability. Its three sites, spaced 120° apart around the globe, all have a 70-meter dish built in the 1960s or '70s, and several newer, 34-meter dishes, which can be arrayed together to match the larger dishes' downlink performance. The network allows continuous contact with spacecraft anywhere in the solar system—or beyond it, as in the case of Voyager 1, which officially entered interstellar space in 2013. Currently, 35 missions rely on the DSN.

Ironically, the glitches this past December and January largely stemmed from problems with the network's newest 34-meter antenna, DSS-35, in Canberra, which began operating in 2014, NASA says. Rain and dust compromised an instrument that helps aim it, several other pointing components overheated, and contaminants leaked into a cryogenic refrigerator used to cool an amplifier. NASA says these problems have mostly been fixed, and the Canberra station's reliability will increase when its next 34-meter antenna, DSS-36, begins operating on 1 October.
science  space  future 
4 days ago by sandykoe
Crispr Can Speed Up Nature—and Change How We Grow Food | WIRED
What makes the de novo approach so intriguing is that it takes advantage of all the accumulated botanical “wisdom” of a wild plant. Over tens of thousands of years of evolution, a wild species acquires traits of hardiness and resilience, such as resistance to disease and stress. Domestication eliminated some of those traits. Since those resistance traits typically involve a suite of genes, Peres says, they would be extremely difficult to introduce into domesticated tomatoes, via Crispr or any other technology. And the approach can exploit other extreme traits. Peres wants to “domesticate” a wild species from the Galapagos, which can tolerate extreme environmental conditions such as high salinity and drought—traits that might enhance food security in a future with enormous climate fluctuations.

Rising temperatures. Changing growing seasons. A rising global population. The environmental toll of herbicide overuse. What if gene editing, for example, could favor disease-­resistance genes that would reduce pesticide use?  Lippman asks. “That’s not just feeding the world, that’s protecting the planet.”
food  science  future 
27 days ago by sandykoe
How Robot Hands Are Evolving to Do What Ours Can - The New York Times
Inside OpenAI, the San Francisco artificial intelligence lab founded by Elon Musk and several other big Silicon Valley names, you will find a robotic hand called Dactyl. It looks a lot like Luke Skywalker’s mechanical prosthetic in the latest Star Wars film: mechanical digits that bend and straighten like a human hand.

If you give Dactyl an alphabet block and ask it to show you particular letters — let’s say the red O, the orange P and the blue I — it will show them to you and spin, twist and flip the toy in nimble ways.

For a human hand, that is a simple task. But for an autonomous machine, it is a notable achievement: Dactyl learned the task largely on its own. Using the mathematical methods that allow Dactyl to learn, researchers believe they can train robotic hands and other machines to perform far more complex tasks.
tech  future 
5 weeks ago by sandykoe
Stop Teaching Students What to Think. Teach Them How to Think - Education Week
Human-automaton creation must end. To succeed in a world of automation will require being as unmachinelike as possible. The entire education system will need to be retooled around no longer teaching kids what to think but how to think. Memorization of facts is pointless in a world where everyone carries around the entire knowledge base of the human species on their person.
education  politics  tech  future 
7 weeks ago by sandykoe
Next-Gen Nuclear Is Coming—If Society Wants It | WIRED
Irish was so convinced that this new reactor was a great investment that he bet his career on it. Nearly a decade later, Irish is the CEO of New York City-based Terrestrial Energy, a company that expects to have a molten-salt reactor online before 2030.

Terrestrial is far from alone. Dozens of nuclear startups are popping up around the country, aiming to solve the well-known problems with nuclear power — radioactive waste, meltdowns, weapons proliferation, and high costs.

There are reactors that burn nuclear waste. There are reactors designed to destroy isotopes that could be made into weapons. There are small reactors that could be built inexpensively in factories. So many ideas!
environment  politics  tech  future 
7 weeks ago by sandykoe
Why Liberals Should Stop Whining About the Senate - POLITICO Magazine
First, there’s nothing—and I mean nothing—anyone can do about it. And second, a purely “majoritarian” political process may wind up confronting liberals with the adage, “When you’re up to your neck in alligators, it’s hard to remember that you set out to drain the swamp.”

Let’s take the first one first. The makeup of the House and Senate was the most controversial issue confronting the framers of the Constitution. (You can read the official U.S. Senate history of the debate here.) Unsurprisingly, the biggest states—in the 18th century, Virginia was by far the most populous—wanted both houses apportioned by population. The smallest states were so adamant that they not be steamrolled by their larger neighbors that they insisted that equal representation in the Senate could not be taken away without the consent of the state, even by Constitutional amendment. It’s the last sentence of Article V, if you’re keeping score. That’s right: The counter-majoritarian Senate was so crucial to the framers’ design of the Constitution that it is the only part of the document that is specifically prohibited from being amended.
future  politics 
8 weeks ago by sandykoe
DEMOCRATIC ADVERTISING ‘A Little Errol Morris. And a Little Roger Ailes’ - POLITICO Magazine
It also was the third Putnam Partners ad in the past two years that made a Democratic military veteran go viral. In 2016, it was Jason Kander, his blindfold and his AR-15. In 2017, it was Amy McGrath, the first female Marine to fly an F/A-18 fighter jet in combat, launching her upstart candidacy in Kentucky’s 6th District. This year, it’s Hegar.
[...]
There have been a handful of memorable campaign-fueling ads for veterans in this cycle—from the aforementioned Randy “Iron Stache” Bryce to Staten Islander Max Rose’s “Chopper,” made by Margolis’ pedigreed firm, to West Virginian Richard Ojeda’s introductory spot made by a former coal miner who taught himself filmmaking watching The Walking Dead—but McGrath’s campaign literally wouldn’t be happening let alone surging without “Told Me.”
politics  strategy  electionStrategy  future 
10 weeks ago by sandykoe
How an Unknown Reformer Rescued One of America’s Most Troubled School Districts - POLITICO Magazine
“What happens if she steps off that line?” Rouhanifard asked an administrator for Uncommon Schools, the charter school network that operates Camden Prep. “You guys expel her?”

It was a cutting joke, but the whole school was in on the punchline. Camden Prep and the city’s 10 other Renaissance schools are among the only charters in the country that accept students via geographical zone rather than random lottery—which means they can’t act like traditional charter schools.

Camden Prep can’t use suspensions and expulsions as a tool to send troublesome kids back to their neighborhood school in pursuit of higher test scores, because Camden Prep is that neighborhood school. Unlike traditional charters, Renaissance schools also can’t charge uniform fees, must fill empty seats in every grade throughout the school and must foot the bill when a student with disabilities needs a private school placement because the Renaissance school can’t accommodate them—all rules mandated by to the Urban Hope Act. As a result, Camden Prep and other renaissance schools have higher special education rates than Camden’s district schools. In Camden Prep’s so-called Penn State classroom, 12 students with special needs get individual help and attention from a teacher and a paraprofessional.
education  politics  future 
11 weeks ago by sandykoe
New model predicts that we’re probably the only advanced civilization in the observable universe — Universal-Sci
“We found that even using the guesstimates in the literature (we took them and randomly combined the parameter estimates) one can have a situation where the mean number of civilizations in the galaxy might be fairly high – say a hundred – and yet the probability that we are alone in the galaxy is 30%! The reason is that there is a very skew distribution of likelihood.

“If we instead try to review the scientific knowledge, things get even more extreme. This is because the probability of getting life and intelligence on a planet has an *extreme* uncertainty given what we know – we cannot rule out that it happens nearly everywhere there is the right conditions, but we cannot rule out that it is astronomically rare. This leads to an even stronger uncertainty about the number of civilizations, drawing us to conclude that there is a fairly high likelihood that we are alone. However, we *also* conclude that we shouldn’t be too surprised if we find intelligence!”
space  science  future 
12 weeks ago by sandykoe
The Most Unlikely D.A. In America - POLITICO Magazine
Manning, the assistant DA, says that as a prosecutor he went up against Gonzalez in court six times—and in five of those six meetings,Gonzalez got his client off with a “not guilty” or a hung jury. Manning eventually left the DA’s office to join Gonzalez’s private practice, and returned as the new DA’s right-hand man after the election. He says Gonzalez has a unique way of being the courtroom’s everyman, the guy you’d want to join you over barbecue and a beer. “That’s why he whoops your butt every time,” Manning says. “People are like, ‘I want to watch the Cowboys game with this guy.’ Whatever he says is gold—and that’s what makes him crazy dangerous.”
people  future  politics 
may 2018 by sandykoe
Opinion | Michael Hayden: The End of Intelligence - The New York Times
In 1994 during the height of the Bosnian civil war, when I was head of intelligence for American forces in Europe, I walked through the ruined streets of Sarajevo. A city of once-beautiful steeples, onion-shaped domes and minarets had been devastated by Serbian artillery in the hills rising above the Miljacka River. I wondered what manner of man could pick up a sniper rifle and shoot former neighbors lining up for scarce water at a shuttered brewery.

What struck me most, though, was not how Sarajevans were different from us, but how much they weren’t. This had obviously been a cultured, tolerant, vibrant place that had been ripped asunder by the conflict pitting Muslim Bosniaks against Christian Serbs and Croats.

The veneer of civilization, I concluded, was quite thin — a natural thought for an intelligence officer whose profession trends pessimistic and whose work is consumed by threats and dangers. Over the years I had learned that the traditions and institutions that protect us from living Hobbesian “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short” lives are inherently fragile and demand careful tending. In America today, they are under serious stress.
[...]
They didn’t seem very interested in facts, either. Or at least not in my facts. Political partisanship in America has become what David Brooks calls “totalistic.” Partisan identity, as he writes, fills “the void left when their other attachments wither away — religious, ethnic, communal and familial.” Beliefs are now so tied to these identities that data is not particularly useful to argue a point.

Intelligence work — at least as practiced in the Western liberal tradition — reflects these threatened Enlightenment values: gathering, evaluating and analyzing information, and then disseminating conclusions for use, study or refutation.
politics  future  america 
may 2018 by sandykoe
Lobe - Deep Learning Made Simple
Lobe is an easy-to-use visual tool that lets you build custom deep learning models, quickly train them, and ship them directly in your app without writing any code. Start by dragging in a folder of training examples from your desktop. Lobe automatically builds you a custom deep learning model and begins training. When you’re done, you can export a trained model and ship it directly in your app.
tech  future 
may 2018 by sandykoe
The End of Reality: The Era of Fake Video Begins - Franklin Foer - The Atlantic
The digital manipulation of video may make the current era of “fake news” seem quaint.

Vladimir Nabokov once wrote that reality is one of the few words that means nothing without quotation marks. He was sardonically making a basic point about relative perceptions: When you and I look at the same object, how do you really know that we see the same thing?
politics  tech  future 
april 2018 by sandykoe
Elon Musk All-Tesla Memo - April 18, 2018 | Electrek
Progress, Precision and Profit

Elon Musk

Everybody

Progress

First, congratulations are in order! We have now completed our third full week of producing over 2000 Model 3 vehicles. The first week was 2020, the second was 2070 and we just completed 2250 last week, along with 2000 Model S/X vehicles.

This is more than double Tesla’s weekly production rate last year and an amazing feat in the face of many challenges! It is extremely rare for an automotive company to grow the production rate by over 100% from one year to the next. Moreover, there has simultaneously been a significant improvement in quality and build accuracy, which is reflected in positive owner feedback.

Starting today at Giga and tomorrow at Fremont, we will be stopping for three to five days to do a comprehensive set of upgrades. This should set us up for Model 3 production of 3000 to 4000 per week next month.

Another set of upgrades starting in late May should be enough to unlock production capacity of 6000 Model 3 vehicles per week by the end of June. Please note that all areas of Tesla and our suppliers will be required to demonstrate a Model 3 capacity of ~6000/week by building 850 sets of car parts in 24 hours no later than June 30th.

Any Tesla department or supplier that is unable to do this will need to have a very good explanation why not, along with a plan for fixing the problem and present that to me directly. If anyone needs help achieving this, please let me know as soon as possible. We are going to find a way or make a way to get there.

The reason that the burst-build target rate is 6000 and not 5000 per week in June is that we cannot have a number with no margin for error across thousands of internally and externally produced parts and processes, amplified by a complex global logistics chain. Actual production will move as fast as the least lucky and least well-executed part of the entire Tesla production/supply chain system.

By having a Model 3 subsystem burst-build requirement of 6k by the end of June, we will lay the groundwork for achieving a steady 6k/week across the whole Model 3 system a few months later.

As part of the drive towards 6k, all Model 3 production at Fremont will move to 24/7operations. This means that we will be adding another shift to general assembly, body and paint. Please refer anyone you know who you think meets the Tesla bar for talent, drive and trust. Between Fremont and Giga, Tesla will be adding about 400 people per week for several weeks.

Precision

Most of the design tolerances of the Model 3 are already better than any other car in the world. Soon, they will all be better. This is not enough. We will keep going until the Model 3 build precision is a factor of ten better than any other car in the world. I am not kidding.

Our car needs to be designed and built with such accuracy and precision that, if an owner measures dimensions, panel gaps and flushness, and their measurements don’t match the Model 3 specs, it just means that their measuring tape is wrong.

Some parts suppliers will be unwilling or unable to achieve this level of precision. I understand that this will be considered an unreasonable request by some. That’s ok, there are lots of other car companies with much lower standards. They just can’t work with Tesla.

Profit

A fair criticism leveled at Tesla by outside critics is that you’re not a real company unless you generate a profit, meaning simply that revenue exceeds costs. It didn’t make sense to do that until reaching economies of scale, but now we are there.

Going forward, we will be far more rigorous about expenditures. I have asked the Tesla finance team to comb through every expense worldwide, no matter how small, and cut everything that doesn’t have a strong value justification.

All capital or other expenditures above a million dollars, or where a set of related expenses may accumulate to a million dollars over the next 12 months, should be considered on hold until explicitly approved by me. If you are the manager responsible, please make sure you have a detailed, first principles understanding of the supplier quote, including every line item of parts & labor, before we meet.

I have been disappointed to discover how many contractor companies are interwoven throughout Tesla. Often, it is like a Russian nesting doll of contractor, subcontractor, sub-subcontractor, etc. before you finally find someone doing actual work. This means a lot of middle-managers adding cost but not doing anything obviously useful. Also, many contracts are essentially open time & materials, not fixed price and duration, which creates an incentive to turn molehills into mountains, as they never want to end the money train.

There is a very wide range of contractor performance, from excellent to worse than a drunken sloth. All contracting companies should consider the coming week to be a final opportunity to demonstrate excellence. Any that fail to meet the Tesla standard of excellence will have their contracts ended on Monday.

Btw, here are a few productivity recommendations:

– Excessive meetings are the blight of big companies and almost always get worse over time. Please get of all large meetings, unless you’re certain they are providing value to the whole audience, in which case keep them very short.

– Also get rid of frequent meetings, unless you are dealing with an extremely urgent matter. Meeting frequency should drop rapidly once the urgent matter is resolved.

– Walk out of a meeting or drop off a call as soon as it is obvious you aren’t adding value. It is not rude to leave, it is rude to make someone stay and waste their time.

– Don’t use acronyms or nonsense words for objects, software or processes at Tesla. In general, anything that requires an explanation inhibits communication. We don’t want people to have to memorize a glossary just to function at Tesla.

– Communication should travel via the shortest path necessary to get the job done, not through the “chain of command”. Any manager who attempts to enforce chain of command communication will soon find themselves working elsewhere.

– A major source of issues is poor communication between depts. The way to solve this is allow free flow of information between all levels. If, in order to get something done between depts, an individual contributor has to talk to their manager, who talks to a director, who talks to a VP, who talks to another VP, who talks to a director, who talks to a manager, who talks to someone doing the actual work, then super dumb things will happen. It must be ok for people to talk directly and just make the right thing happen.

– In general, always pick common sense as your guide. If following a “company rule” is obviously ridiculous in a particular situation, such that it would make for a great Dilbert cartoon, then the rule should change.

If there is something you think should be done to make Tesla execute better or allow you to look forward to coming to work more (same thing in the long term), please send a note to [redacted]

Thanks for being such a kickass team and accomplishing miracles every day. It matters. We are burning the midnight oil to burn the midnight oil.

Elon
business  tech  future 
april 2018 by sandykoe
How to Give Mars an Atmosphere, Maybe – Many Worlds
It consisted of creating a “magnetic shield” to protect the planet from those high-energy solar particles. The shield structure would consist of a large dipole—a closed electric circuit powerful enough to generate an artificial magnetic field.

Simulations showed that a shield of this sort would leave Mars in the relatively protected magnetotail of the magnetic field created by the object. A potential result: an end to largescale stripping of the Martian atmosphere by the solar wind, and a significant change in climate.
science  space  future 
april 2018 by sandykoe
Four Ways to Fix Facebook — ProPublica
But sentiment is growing in Washington to interpret the law more narrowly. Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill that carves out an exemption in the law, making websites liable if they aid and abet sex trafficking. Despite fierce opposition by many tech advocates, a version of the bill has already passed the Senate.

*** It would be interesting to see a legal regime that cut out very specific topic areas where companies were liable with clear definitions. As Ben Thompson points out, these companies are very good at finding things, so if we change the problem into one where they are searching for specific content instead of general bad stuff, it should be much easier. Then again, this could also come afoul of free speech doctrine. Companies can pursue lots of policies on their own that the government cannot mandate them to implement.
tech  future  politics 
april 2018 by sandykoe
A healthcare algorithm started cutting care, and no one knew why - The Verge
Algorithmic tools like the one Arkansas instituted in 2016 are everywhere from health care to law enforcement, altering lives in ways the people affected can usually only glimpse, if they know they’re being used at all. Even if the details of the algorithms are accessible, which isn’t always the case, they’re often beyond the understanding even of the people using them, raising questions about what transparency means in an automated age, and concerns about people’s ability to contest decisions made by machines.
tech  future  government  politics 
march 2018 by sandykoe
Peloton: The “SaaS Plus a Box” Business case – 25iq
Steve Jobs said in 2004:

“The more we look at it, for more and more consumer devices the core technology in them is going to be software. More and more they look like software in a box. And a lot of traditional consumer-electronics companies haven’t grokked [fully understood] software.”
future  business 
march 2018 by sandykoe
Yascha Mounk on Populism and Democracy - The Atlantic
Mounk: Developed democracies face what I’ve called a “technocratic dilemma.” The world has become much more complicated over the past 50 years: Economic activity now happens at the global scale. Technology has advanced at a very rapid pace. In order to govern effectively, nearly every democracy has thus established more and more technocratic institutions. Experts figure out how to regulate power plants. Bureaucratic agencies pass many more binding rules than parliaments. International organizations try to coordinate the actions of different states in areas in which the whole world needs to work together. But taken together, the effect of all of these developments has been to make many citizens feel as though their vote doesn’t really matter. And they have a point: It’s really difficult to see, for example, how individual voters can have any meaningful effect on something as vast and complicated as the international response we need to climate change.
[...]
Mounk: Nearly all democracies in the world have been founded as monoethnic and monocultural. Decades of immigration have challenged this self-conception. And while a lot of people are very happy to embrace this transformation, others are very resentful about it.

Canada and the United States are less different from this than one might think. They have of course always been more ethnically diverse. But they also had a strict ethnic hierarchy, which has slowly been challenged over the past decades. Neither in North America nor in Western Europe has there ever been a truly equal, multiethnic democracy. So what we’re trying to create right now is a historically unique experiment.
policy  future  harvard  politics 
march 2018 by sandykoe
Witnessing the Collapse of the Global Elite - The Atlantic
At events like the Munich Conference, it is no coincidence that the word “networking” has largely replaced the word “debate” among global elites. Most of the faces in attendance you could see at other, similar gatherings, like the World Economic Forum in Davos. You could sense the same frenetic socializing among those more eager to be seen than to make a point, more likely to ponderously recite conventional wisdom than to doggedly defend a point of view. When the Polish prime minister declared that Jews were also perpetrators of the Holocaust, there were mere tut-tuts in response. It is a far cry from the Wehrkunde founded by Kleist. His successor is a bland former German diplomat who greets everyone—free citizen or dictator’s henchman—as a long-time friend of the conference, to be cherished for that reason alone, rather than for what he or she says or believes.
future  strategy  IR  politics 
february 2018 by sandykoe
The President of Nowhere, USA - POLITICO Magazine
Obama could have named anyone in the entire party; even if the Democratic bench is as thin as some rank-and-file members fear, it’s not barren. That he tossed out Buttigieg as a standard-bearer, without qualification, speaks to the mayor’s combination of life experiences and governing talent. One morning last summer, I trailed Buttigieg on his way to a Rotary luncheon, where he was scheduled to give loosely prepared remarks. He walks quickly and with purpose, almost like a hound dog—head leaning forward, shoulders slightly hunched, his destination never far from mind. He’s both shorter and less naturally charismatic than a typical male politician, with a trim build and a middle-school haircut. (Brad Stevens, the famously youthful head coach of the Boston Celtics, could be his brother.)
politics  people  future 
february 2018 by sandykoe
Is your software racist? - The Agenda - Politico
One idea for tackling the data problem—and a place that many experts believe Washington could play a useful role—is new industry-wide standards or benchmarks that algorithms need to meet before they can be used broadly in the wild. These standards could call for systems to be trained on equal amounts of data for users of different racial backgrounds and genders, for instance.
tech  policy  future  politics 
february 2018 by sandykoe
NASA's Impossible Space Engine, The EMdrive, Passes Peer Review (But That Doesn't Mean It Works)
What has happened here is that a device has been designed that, when large amounts of power are pumped into it, tiny amounts of thrust are observed. The thrust-to-power ratio observed is 1.2 ± 0.1 Newtons per Megawatt, where 1.2 Newtons is the equivalent of the weight of an iPhone 6, while a Megawatt is enough energy to power everything in your entire house... and 649 others, all at once. Which is to say, it's an incredibly large amount of power required for an incredibly tiny amount of thrust. Nevertheless, if you break the laws of physics, and you do it with such small measurement uncertainty compared to the signal you measure, surely that's meaningful, important and robust, right?
science  future  tech  space 
february 2018 by sandykoe
Zero-Point Energy Makes Power Pervasive & Free – The Mission – Medium
You might have heard of Richard Feynman. He was a Physicist that was well-known for his brilliance but also his ability to reduce complex topics down to freshman level understanding.

One of the things he described was Zero-Point Energy. He posited that it held an order of magnitude greater power than nuclear energy, with:

One teacup of empty space contains enough energy to boil all the world’s oceans.
science  tech  future 
february 2018 by sandykoe
Amazon Health – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
After all, if Amazon is facilitating the connection to patients, what is the point of having another intermediary? Moreover, by virtue of being the new middleman, Amazon has the unique ability to consolidate patient data in a way that is not only of massive benefit to patients and doctors but also to the application of machine learning.

Of course that leaves the insurance piece, which makes Berkshire Hathaway a useful partner; conveniently, Berkshire Hathaway is not in the health insurance business, but rather the health reinsurance business — that is, they insure the insurers. Or, to put it another way, they don’t provide any of the services that Amazon Health Marketplace might make obsolete, and specialize in the one thing Amazon Health Services would need.

Oh, and this will be really expensive, and take years to get off the ground. It certainly would be helpful to have access to financing and capital markets, which means it would be very helpful to partner with JPMorgan Chase & Company. The skills these three companies bring to bear seems far more relevant than the number of employees (and besides, the company alliance approach to traditional health care has been done).
tech  future  health  business  politics 
february 2018 by sandykoe
How China plans to pull ahead in the space race - Axios
China's solution? Make its space program an undeniable force to be reckoned with on the international stage.
space  politics  policy  future 
january 2018 by sandykoe
Is the World Slouching Toward a Grave Systemic Crisis? - The Atlantic
Burnham had predicted Nazi victory. Later, Burnham had predicted the Soviet conquest of all Eurasia. By 1947 Burnham was calling for the U.S. to launch a preventive nuclear war against the Soviet Union to head off the coming disaster.

Orwell saw a pattern. Such views seemed symptoms of “a major mental disease, and its roots,” he argued, which, “lie partly in cowardice and partly in the worship of power, which is not fully separable from cowardice.”

[...]

Especially since 9/11, the danger of catastrophic terrorism has turned America’s global strategic priorities upside-down. Terrorists tend to flourish in the broken ‘wilderness’ areas of the world. These are just the places that therefore are least likely to change the course of world history in any positive way.

These places draw huge amounts of our attention, resources, and energy. From the perspective of global strategy, not only is this all playing defense, it is actually anti-strategic—the most important power in the world concentrating on the least important places.

[...]

All world orders are an accumulation of the ways people and their institutions try to solve their era’s problems. A deep system-wide crisis occurs when people, people all over the world, no longer think the old order, the old examples, work. Catalytic episodes usually emerge from sort of systemic crisis.

[...]

Suppose, instead of just reacting episodically, the United States and its friends wanted to go on the offense, so to speak, and seize the strategic initiative. My little reading of history suggests a checklist of three strategic questions:

1. Set priorities. What battleground issues or states are most likely to influence this generation’s global election about prospects for an open and civilized world? (Including the pivotal battlegrounds for the future of governance here in America.)

2. Think outside-in. Out in those states, out in the world of those issues, are there catalytic possibilities? How do they see their situation? What (and who) are the critical variables in their choices?

3. U.S. efficacy. In that context, where or how can the U.S. really make a strategic difference?

These are exactly the kind of questions Marshall and his colleagues analyzed in 1947. They are also just the kind of questions the Bush administration analyzed during 1989 and 1990.

[...]
government  policy  future  politics  strategy 
january 2018 by sandykoe
Inside “Fin”, the elite human/AI assistant | TechCrunch
For $1 a minute, 24/7, Fin gets your digital chores done. Message, email, or speak a request and a real person will snap into action, augmented by a machine intelligence toolkit built from all the tasks Fin’s tackled to date. Sure, it handles research, scheduling, commerce, and customer support calls. But it also learns your habits, negotiates for you, and conquers complex jobs like creating a website.
future  tech 
december 2017 by sandykoe
Google Maps’s Moat | Justin O’Beirne
At the rate it’s going, how long until Google has every structure on Earth?

But these buildings are more than just a pretty detail—they appear to be the foundation for one of Google Maps’s newest features...
tech  future 
december 2017 by sandykoe
Red State Blues: How Democrats Can Win Republican-Leaning Districts in 2018 | Harvard Political Review
But by emphasizing less personally salient issues such as climate change or environmental issues, Democrats often lose red-leaning voters who are more concerned with policy issues concerning their families. Beshear believes that Democrats must focus on four policy areas to win in these red states: economic opportunity, education, healthcare, and security.

In terms of economic opportunity, Democrats must reassert themselves as the true advocates for middle- and working-class prosperity. As Beshear noted, the objective of the Democratic Party has always been to “move obstacles out of the way so that all people have the opportunity to climb that economic ladder and grab a hold of a piece of the American dream.”
future  politics  strategy 
december 2017 by sandykoe
Democrats Are the New Republicans - The New York Times
Family values. How long have we been subjected to that subjective phrase, championed by Republicans who equated it with heterosexuality, fecundity and Christian piety — and who appointed themselves the custodians of those?
politics  future  strategy  electionStrategy 
december 2017 by sandykoe
Las Vegas Casinos Are Now Testing Covert Gun-Sensing Technology | WIRED
That's where Patscan comes in. Each radar unit consists of a service box and two antennae (the combined footprint is about the size of a movie poster). The first antenna emits 1,000 pulses of electromagnetic radiation per second, at frequencies between 500 MHz and 5 Ghz. Yes, that frequency range makes these microwaves, and no, they're not going to cook anybody; to keep them from interfering with cell phones and GPS devices, Patscans generate a very weak signal. That also limits their detection range to about two meters.
tech  security  future 
december 2017 by sandykoe
Are exoskeletons the future of physical labor? - The Verge
Paul Collins sticks out along the final assembly line because of the vest he’s wearing. Since May of this year, Collins — who goes by “Woody” and has worked in the plant since 1995 — has been beta-testing an exoskeleton vest. He’s one of four workers in the Michigan area who have been wearing the vests, which were paid for by the United Automobile Workers union, in an attempt to reduce shoulder injury.
tech  future  robotics 
december 2017 by sandykoe
All The Questions Tesla Has To Answer Now
So, check the timestamp and write it down: If the Y, the semi, the Roadster are in production by 2020, and the Model 3 reservation list is whittled down, I’ll eat my shoe. And yours.
cars  tech  future 
november 2017 by sandykoe
With U.S. Strategy on the Rocks, We Are Supporting Fresh Perspectives in Foreign Policy
Recent American history shows a clear need for a new vision and new voices, steeped in greater realism and supported by the best evidence rather than well-intentioned but idealistic hopes. The American people — and even some prominent elites — are asking questions and challenging long-held assumptions that suggest they agree that we need a new vision and fresh perspectives. And the establishment is having a difficult time telling fathers and mothers from across the country why they should send their kids and their tax dollars to our “forever wars” in the Middle East or to new conflicts in countries on the other side of the globe.
politics  strategy  future  IR 
november 2017 by sandykoe
How to Give Mars an Atmosphere, Maybe | News | Astrobiology
It consisted of creating a “magnetic shield” to protect the planet from those high-energy solar particles. The shield structure would consist of a large dipole—a closed electric circuit powerful enough to generate an artificial magnetic field.

Simulations showed that a shield of this sort would leave Mars in the relatively protected magnetotail of the magnetic field created by the object. A potential result: an end to largescale stripping of the Martian atmosphere by the solar wind, and a significant change in climate.

“The solar sytstem is ours, let’s take it,” Green told the workshop.
space  future  science 
november 2017 by sandykoe
Why the ‘end of the startup era’ could be great for entrepreneurs | TechCrunch
How did this happen? The established companies have scaled their organizations to handle the drudge work of getting a drug through clinical trials, past FDA review (and its global counterparts) and, once cleared, into the hands of doctors and patients. This organizational structure and scale make them ill-suited to pursue novel R&D, which is where the startups shine. Startups can now orient themselves entirely toward finding breakthrough cures and not worry about commercialization. If a startup develops a novel cancer drug, or even a molecule that looks promising, Sanofi, Novartis or one of their peers will buy it.
business  future  tech 
november 2017 by sandykoe
Photo Enhancement is Starting to Get Crazy
As the worlds of artificial intelligence and digital photography collide, we’re starting to see some mind-blowing technology emerge. The latest research in turning low-resolution photos into high-definition photos may drop your jaws — it’s starting to cross into the realm of sci-fi.
tech  future 
november 2017 by sandykoe
The Silence of the Democrats - The New York Times
So when the party’s leaders tussle over this or that policy, they also need to take a step back, to see the direction the country — the West itself — is heading, and take a stand on it. This isn’t just a matter of high-minded idealism; it’s what separates great politicians from merely good ones.
politics  future 
october 2017 by sandykoe
Xi Jinping offers a long-term view of China’s ambition
The west needs to reflect on its own condition. Since the fall of the Soviet Union there has been little strategic direction about the idea of the west itself, and the core elements of the liberal democratic and capitalist project. Instead, the west is increasingly self-absorbed, self-satisfied and globally complacent. China is marching towards its perception of its global destiny. It has a strategy. The west has none.
china  future  politics  IR 
october 2017 by sandykoe
Space That Never Was
The Chronicle of The Golden Age of Space Exploration.
space  photos  future  art 
october 2017 by sandykoe
A Health Care Plan That’s Universal and Bipartisan - NYTimes.com
Universal Catastrophic Coverage

The basic idea is simple. Everyone would have a policy that covered all medical expenses above a deductible amount. For those with very low incomes, the deductible would be zero. For others, routine health care would not be covered, but they would be protected against the truly unaffordable costs of chronic illnesses and severe accidents. For example, the plan would not cover the cost of a visit to a doctor’s office to make sure a bad cold is not something worse, but it would cover all costs of treatment above the deductible amount if the cold turned out to be lung cancer or a serious case of pneumonia. Ideally, a broad range of health care needs would be covered, including dental and mental health.
health  policy  politics  future 
october 2017 by sandykoe
Two questions to help you become more successful in life, according to a Harvard professor | World Economic Forum
1. Know yourself. You can ask yourself: What are my "signature strengths?" Those are the skills you're particularly good at.

2. Pick the right pond. Barker recommends asking yourself: "Which companies, institutions, and situations value what I do?"
future  life 
october 2017 by sandykoe
The Secret to Moonshots? Killing Our Projects | WIRED
But I have a secret for you. The Silicon Valley hype machine has created this myth of visionaries who effortlessly build the future. Don’t believe the hype. The moonshot factory is a messy place. But rather than avoid the mess or pretend it’s not there, we’ve tried to make it our strength. We spend most of our time breaking things and working to discover that we’re wrong. That’s it. That’s the secret. Run at all the hardest parts of a problem first. Ask cheerfully, “How are we going to try to kill our project today!” We’ve found a balance that’s working for us — allowing our unchecked optimism to fuel our visions and then harnessing enthusiastic skepticism and critical thinking as a way to breathe life, breathe reality, into those visions.
tech  future 
october 2017 by sandykoe
Big data may be reinforcing racial bias in the criminal justice system - The Washington Post
Big data has expanded to the criminal justice system. In Los Angeles, police use computerized “predictive policing” to anticipate crimes and allocate officers. In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., machine-learning algorithms are used to set bond amounts. In states across the country, data-driven estimates of the risk of recidivism are being used to set jail sentences.
future  tech  policy  politics 
october 2017 by sandykoe
How Apple Should Fix Apple TV - M.G. Siegler
Three devices: A connected television device to stream and watch all your favorite content with a new touch-sensitive remote control. A living room gaming device with instant access to thousands of games made by developers all around the world, and a great new controller. An always-on home assistant and hub with access to thousands of apps and services.
A connected television device.
A living room gaming device.
An always-on home assistant.
apple  tech  future 
september 2017 by sandykoe
What Happened to America's Public Intellectuals? | History | Smithsonian
Only a few years later, in 1985, the Berkeley sociologist Robert Bellah decried that academic specialization had cut our best minds off from the fray. He urged his academic colleagues to engage in “conversation with fellow citizens about matters of common interest.”
politics  future  culture 
july 2017 by sandykoe
Scientists crack mystery of ancient Roman concrete's 2,000-year life span - The Washington Post
A bunch of half-sunken structures off the Italian coast might sound less impressive than a gladiatorial colosseum. But underwater, the marvel is in the material. The harbor concrete, a mixture of volcanic ash and quicklime, has withstood the sea for two millennia and counting. What's more, it is stronger than when it was first mixed.

The Roman stuff is “an extraordinarily rich material in terms of scientific possibility,” said Philip Brune, a research scientist at DuPont Pioneer who has studied the engineering properties of Roman monuments. “It's the most durable building material in human history, and I say that as an engineer not prone to hyperbole.”
tech  future  history  architecture 
july 2017 by sandykoe
Migrants, big cities, and our direst problems
Migration, such as the massive flow of Middle Eastern, Afghan and African migrants into Europe starting in 2015, should be embraced as a large part of the solution to a fast-shrinking work force, he said. Until now viewed as an acute crisis, they are actually a way to have the taxes to support European pensions. "We are going to have less Spaniards, less Russians, less Italians. But migrants tend to be young, and to have babies," Lobo said.
politics  future  policy 
june 2017 by sandykoe
The Local News Business Model – Stratechery by Ben Thompson
Indeed, the real problem with local newspapers is more obvious than folks like Rutenberg wish to admit: no one — advertisers nor subscribers — wants to pay for them because they’re not worth paying for. If newspapers were actually holding local government accountable I don’t think they would have any problem earning money; that they aren’t is a function of wasting time and money on the past instead of the future.
future  politics  business  media 
may 2017 by sandykoe
America’s ‘Miracle Machine’ is in desperate need of, well, a miracle - The Washington Post
The Miracle Machine can be traced back to a report during the closing days of World War II called “Science: The Endless Frontier.” The blueprint saw the power of bringing together two interlocking engines — the public sector and the private sector — to drive progress and innovation.

The United States has the most dynamic private sector in the world, with entrepreneurs, investors, big companies and capital markets all eager to license technologies and launch start-ups. But those ventures are often driven by technologies that come from basic research. Few companies undertake such research because its fruits are typically too unpredictable, too far from commercialization and too early to be patentable.
science  politics  policy  future 
may 2017 by sandykoe
Becoming an American in the Age of Trump
Simply a chaotic afternoon ride, crammed into a tram car, hurtling through a labyrinth of confusing stations. Around me was a world far away from the spires of Oxford University, from which I’d graduated a few months before. A sea of different-colored faces surrounded me amid what seemed near-tropical heat and humidity: a squalling baby, giggling schoolgirls, and a seated construction worker with concrete-dusted boots, his red, grizzled Irish face staring out the window into the brick blackness.
culture  future  politics 
march 2017 by sandykoe
Building Jarvis
So far this year, I've built a simple AI that I can talk to on my phone and computer, that can control my home, including lights, temperature, appliances, music and security, that learns my tastes and patterns, that can learn new words and concepts, and that can even entertain Max. It uses several artificial intelligence techniques, including natural language processing, speech recognition, face recognition, and reinforcement learning, written in Python, PHP and Objective C. In this note, I'll explain what I built and what I learned along the way.
tech  future 
december 2016 by sandykoe
Climate Model Predicts West Antarctic Ice Sheet Could Melt Rapidly - The New York Times
The great ice sheet, larger than Mexico, is thought to be potentially vulnerable to disintegration from a relatively small amount of global warming, and capable of raising the sea level by 12 feet or more should it break up. But researchers long assumed the worst effects would take hundreds — if not thousands — of years to occur.

Now, new research suggests the disaster scenario could play out much sooner.

Continued high emissions of heat-trapping gases could launch a disintegration of the ice sheet within decades, according to a study published Wednesday, heaving enough water into the ocean to raise the sea level as much as three feet by the end of this century.
future  science 
december 2016 by sandykoe
IBM Is Counting on Its Bet on Watson, and Paying Big Money for It - NYTimes.com
At the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Watson was tested on 1,000 cancer diagnoses made by human experts. In 99 percent of them, Watson recommended the same treatment as the oncologists.

In 30 percent of the cases, Watson also found a treatment option the human doctors missed. Some treatments were based on research papers that the doctors had not read — more than 160,000 cancer research papers are published a year. Other treatment options might have surfaced in a new clinical trial the oncologists had not yet seen announced on the web.
business  science  future 
october 2016 by sandykoe
A Chinese billionaire is staking his legacy — and thousands of American jobs — on this factory in Ohio - The Washington Post
The plant is Fuyao’s single biggest investment anywhere. As many as 2,500 people are expected to work here when the plant is at full capacity, and Cho said he hopes it will become the anchor for an aggressive expansion into the United States that has already included a factory in Illinois to make raw glass and a facility in Michigan to put the finishing touches on its products. The total investment has reached about $1 billion.

“This U.S.A. is his baby,” said Mike Fullenkamp, operations manager of the plant in Moraine.

Cho was among China’s first wave of entrepreneurs, and his rag-to-riches story mirrors the country’s own. Growing up in impoverished Fujian province under the strict communist regime of the 1960s and 1970s, Cho often ate only two bowls of soup each day, leaving him so hungry that he would scream in agony.
china  politics  future  strategy 
october 2016 by sandykoe
Next Big Future: Lockheed Portable Fusion project still making progress
Aviation Week was given exclusive access to view the Skunk Works experiment, dubbed “T4,” first hand. Led by Thomas McGuire, an aeronautical engineer in the Skunk Work’s aptly named Revolutionary Technology Programs unit, the current experiments are focused on a containment vessel roughly the size of a business-jet engine. Connected to sensors, injectors, a turbopump to generate an internal vacuum and a huge array of batteries, the stainless steel container seems an unlikely first step toward solving a conundrum that has defeated generations of nuclear physicists—namely finding an effective way to control the fusion reaction.
technology  fusion  science  military  future 
october 2016 by sandykoe
Lockheed Still Supporting Portable Nuclear Generator
“This is a great example of one of our creative engineers who was very focused on solving this obviously critical national security level issue, and we are, again, making the appropriate amount of investment today,” Weiss said. “It’s basically at this stage we are increasing the temperature at which the fusion could occur, and our process for containing the reaction, and we will continue to elevate the level of the temperature and testing the containment theory.”

Weiss also confirmed the team has achieved “initial plasma,” an important early step for the reactor.
military  future  technology  science 
october 2016 by sandykoe
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