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Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

There is nothing wrong with, and much to be gained by, using our mind analytically, but to use it almost exclusively in this way is unbalanced and has a not insignificant responsibility for the perilous state of affairs on our planet.  Though the odds against it happening seem to be mounting, perhaps a more intuitive way of thinking about he world might help us to recognize and reduce in time our overdevelopment of and overdependence on the ever-growing machinery that is supposed to make our lives easier and better.  We are swept along by technological development so that in our urban environment, many of us interact increasingly with electronic devices and less with other human beings.  In addition, our culture is gradually losing our knowledge of and our direct connection with the natural or unprocessed things of the earth.  With a more intuitive way of thinking about our lives could come the realization that our very survival may depend on the other forms of life our present political and economic systems are destroying.  At the least, a better synthesis than we have now between the analytical and the intuitive, in which the intuitive gets equal attention, seems necessary to our longer-term welfare.
  —   Herman Kauz
From his book: “Push-Hands: The Handbook For Non-Competitive Tai Chi Practice With A Partner
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2012 Why Bother?
2011 Peculiar Notions

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Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology.  The fog of information can drive out knowledge.
  —  Daniel J. Boorstin
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I’ve made a mistake, a lifelong one, correlating advancements in technology with progress.  Progress is the opening of doors and the leveling of opportunity, the augmentation of the whole human species and the protection of other species besides.  Progress is cheerfully facing the truth, whether flooding coastlines or falling teen pregnancy rates, and thinking of ways to preserve the processes that work and mitigate the risks.  Progress is seeing calmly, accepting, and thinking of others.
  —  Paul Ford
From his article: “Why I (Still) Love Tech: In Defense of a Difficult Industry
Appearing in: Wired Magazine, dtd May 2019
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Perhaps the most telling email is a message from a then executive named Sam Lessin to Zuckerberg that epitomizes Facebook’s penchant for self-justification.  The company, Lessin wrote, could be ruthless and committed to social good at the same time, because they are essentially the same thing:  “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected and the only way we can do that is with the best people and the best infrastructure, which requires that we make a lot of money / be very profitable.”
The message also highlighted another of the company’s original sins: its assertion that if you just give people better tools for sharing, the world will be a better place.  That’s just false.  Sometimes Facebook makes the world more open and connected; sometimes it makes it more closed and disaffected.  Despots and demagogues have proven to be just as adept at using Facebook as democrats and dreamers.  Like the communications innovations before it — the printing press, the telephone, the internet itself — Facebook is a revolutionary tool.  But human nature has stayed the same.
  —  Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein
From their article: “15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook
Appearing in: Wired Magazine, dtd: May 2019
Online at: https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-15-months-of-fresh-hell/
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We’re in very bad trouble if we don’t understand the planet we’re trying to save.
We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology.
We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.
  —  Carl Sagan
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Circles” (2000©)  —  book review
Today’s book review is for one of the many books written by James Burke, who’s claim to fame is his ability to popularize science / technology with history and biography to “create” linkages which make the world (and history) appear to be interconnected.  I believe his most well known work is the book and the BBC series “Connections“.  At least this is how I first came to know Burke (and enjoy his work).
Circles” is sub-titled “50 Round Trips through History, Technology, Science, Culture“.  The book is a collection of essays which have been gathered into this form.  Each “essay” / “trip” is about four pages and they are each fairly self-contained, so there is no inherent requirement to read them in order – or all of them for that matter.  Each starts with some action in his life: a trip to the library, beach, coffee shop, etc; winds through the “circle” of people / history / discovery he is hi-lighting and then gets wrapped up with another reference to the initial action / place.
The stories are mildly interesting.  The links are tenuous.  The author occasionally breaks the fourth wall.  But, most frequently, the author writes in a peculiar conversational form which struck me as not using full sentences or proper sentence structure.  I found it hard to discern if this was more conversational, breaking of the fourth wall or simply lazy writing.  In the end, I just found it frustrating to try to figure out the subject of a sentence by having to re-read sentences (or paragraphs).
Final recommendation: poor to moderate recommendation.  I admit to being pretty disappointed.  I was a big fan of his “Connections” series and watched it on my local Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) many years ago.  I think I also read the book (way back when), but I can’t swear to it.  I was, therefore, looking forward to more of the same.  This book mostly was “just” the same, but (surprisingly) much less interesting or amusing.  Now I think I have to go back and find the original book (“Connections“) to see if the author has changed or if it’s the reader (me) who has changed.
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If you don’t figure out how to make things work from a broader societal perspective, you will pay a steep price for many years.
  —  Brad Smith
President, Microsoft Corp.
As quoted by: Romesh Ratnesar
In his article: “Trust
Appearing in Time Magazine,  dtd:  16 September 2019
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On This Day In:
2019 Eureka!
2018 Learning About My Humanity
2017 Laugh Or Shake Your Head
2016 The Expected Cure
2015 Of Two Minds
2014 Pride And Remembrance
2013 Repeating Bad Memories
2012 No Sooner
2011 Just Cheesy!
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It’s a simple fact that technology has been weaponized by private companies against democracy.  Corporations are not people.  They don’t have souls.  They’re institutions designed to make money.  And the way the government has always dealt with them is to regulate them to the point where they cease being dangerous to the public.
  —  Barry C. Lynn
Executive Director
Open Markets Institute
As quoted by: Romesh Ratnesar
In his article: “Trust
Appearing in Time Magazine,  dtd:  16 September 2019
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The emergence of the mirrorworld will affect us all at a deeply personal level.  We know there will be severe physiological and psychological effects of dwelling in dual worlds; we’ve already learned that from our experience living in cyberspace and virtual realities.  But we don’t know what these effects will be, much less how to prepare for them or avoid them.  We don’t even know the exact cognitive mechanism that makes the illusion of AR work in the first place.  [“AR” = Augmented Reality  —  KMAB]
The great paradox is that the only way to understand how AR works is to build AR and test ourselves in it.  It’s weirdly recursive: The technology itself is the microscope needed to inspect the effects of the technology.
Some people get very upset with the idea that new technologies will create new harms and that we willingly surrender ourselves to these risks when we could adopt the precautionary principle: Don’t permit the new unless it is proven safe.  But that principle is unworkable, because the old technologies we are in the process of replacing are even less safe.  More than 1 million humans die on the roads each year, but we clamp down on robot drivers when they kill one person.  We freak out over the unsavory influence of social media on our politics, while TV’s partisan influence on elections is far, far greater than Facebook’s.  The mirrorworld will certainly be subject to this double standard of stricter norms.
I imagine it will take at least a decade for the mirrorworld to develop enough to be used by millions, and several decades to mature.  But we are close enough now to the birth of this great work that we can predict its character in rough detail.
Eventually this melded world will be the size of our planet.  It will be humanity’s greatest achievement, creating new levels of wealth, new social problems, and uncountable opportunities for billions of people.  There are no experts yet to make this world; you are not late.
  —  Kevin Kelly
From his article:  “Welcome To Mirrorworld
Appearing in Wired Magazine; dtd:  March 2019
The article also appears online at:  https://www.wired.com/story/mirrorworld-ar-next-big-tech-platform/
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Technology feeds on itself.  Technology makes more technology possible.
  —  Alvin Toffler
From his book:  “Future Shock
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When media is too locked down, too rigid, when it’s too much like a room with most of the air sucked out of it, stale and exhausting, the exploration stops.  And for the intersection of books and digital there’s still much exploration to be had.
Where will those explorations happen?  I don’t know.  But I do know that print has endured and continues to endure for good reason.  Our relationships to our most meaningful books are long and textured.  And until we can trust our digital reading platforms, until the value propositions of digital are made clearer, until the notes and data we produce within them is more accessible and malleable, physical books will remain at the core of our working libraries for a long time coming.
  —  Craig Mod
From his article / editorial: http://aeon.co/magazine/technology/why-have-digital-books-stopped-evolving/
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…Technology is not going to save us.  Our computers, our tools, out machines are not enough.  We have to rely on our intuition, our true being.
  —  Joseph Campbell
From Bill Moyers’ “Introduction” to their book: “The Power Of Myth
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In addition, at least in America, science has been treated sort of cavalierly, not only by the public but also by government.  The idea that science is just some luxury that you’ll get around to if you can afford it is regressive to any future a country might dream for itself.  Innovations in science and technology are the engines of the 21st-century economy; if you care about the wealth and health of your nation tomorrow, then you’d better rethink how you allocate taxes to fund science.  The federal budget needs to recognize this.
  —  Neil DeGrasse-Tyson
Quoted by Rachel Edidin in the March 2014 Wired magazine article titled: “Neil DeGrasse Tyson on Why Cosmos Will Be Better Than Ever
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There’s no economic law that says everyone is going to benefit from technological progress, even if it does make the pie a lot bigger.  So both in terms of theory and evidence, I think there’s a potential to be concerned, and I am concerned.
Technology is racing ahead, but our skills, our organizations, our institutions aren’t keeping up.  As they adjust, we will see more of the benefit show up in the economics, but right now there are a lot of technologies with more potential than has been fully realized.
As you automate and augment a lot of mental tasks, it’s a little less clear whether those technologies will be complements or maybe substitutes for human labor, and that’s one of the things we’re working through now as a society.  Government jobs on average tend to include more information processing, and on average the workers in that sector are more educated and doing more knowledge work than in a lot of other parts of the economy.  So they, in some ways, are likely to be more affected.
It’s been said that the best idea America ever had was mass public education.  That helped us make the transition from an agricultural economy to one based on industry and services.  It didn’t happen by accident; it happened through public policy.  We’re going to have to reinvent what education is and focus more on creativity and interpersonal skills — things that machines are not very good at — and less on having people sit quietly in rows, listen to instructions and carry out those instructions.
  —  Professor Erik Brynjolfsson
MIT Sloan School of Management
[All quotes taken from the article written by Colin Wood titled: “The Uncertain Future Of Work” appearing in the magazine “Government Technology“, April 2014.
The article can be found online at: http://www.govtech.com/products/Robots-Drones-and-the-Uncertain-Future-of-Work.html
Just a quick comment…  When the good professor says “government jobs” are likely to be more affected, I believe he is speaking proportionately, not in terms of sheer volume / numbers.  By the time this shift has a serious proportional impact on government jobs, there will far more significant numbers of job losses in the private sector – if for no other reason than there are ten times more jobs in the private sector.  I am using that ratio (10 to 1) because I am including all federal, state and local government jobs in the lump.  It should be noted that contracted-out jobs are almost one for one between government and private sector jobs.  I would expect nearly all of the contracted jobs to be eliminated before the cuts come to “real” government jobs.  —  KMAB]
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