Updates: Just in today:
- DOJ accuses firm that vetted Snowden of faking 665,000 background checks – that’s right – over 600k people working at the NSA have not been checked!!! They could be way worse than Snowden – criminals, foreign agents, terrorists, general ner’ do wells’, cads, bounders – who knows???
- Want to Store Secret NSA Metadata? – Yes, that’s right – Obama has decided to store secret NSA Metadata at a private company – here’s the RFI – nepotism, of course not! What could possibly go wrong..?
Welcome to my meager effort in the push back against unconditional mass surveillance. At the moment I’m waiting on some treatment for a pinched nerve that means I can’t use my right arm much for typing, which is literally a pain. Still, nothing will stop me blogging on this auspicious occasion which I passionately believe in!
Anyone who knows me virtually or physically knows that I am a passionate believer in people, humanity and freedom – some of the core principles of The Magna Carta and The American Constitution. For this reason I’m fully signing up to The Day We Fight back. To me, this means a sort of non-violent revolution along the lines of
How to Start a Revolution by Gene Sharp
which has been behind many recent revolutions such as the Arab Spring and Eastern European ones. Ironically, we now need tools such as this to ensure our own freedom in Western Civilisation…
Why? Because the USA (NSA) and other countries such as the UK (GCHQ) and Australia (ASIO) seem to be heading down a very dark path based around the darker side of human nature. This has been trodden before and never ended well for anyone…
The current situation with mass surveillance will soon be beyond what George Orwell warned against in his book and the movie 1984. Even allowing for the fact that people have “nothing to fear” if they “obey the law”, there have already been numerous instances of NSA Employees abusing the current system and the NSA helping US corporations conduct corporate espionage. Here in the UK, we’re now looking at our confidential health information being sold to whoever wants it which is a total violation of patient-doctor confidentiality.
Underlying all of this is the dangerous assumption that large institutions (be they government or corporations) can tramp over the rights of individuals (aka people :) and exploit them as they would any other resource for their own ends. I think it’s time people really understood the value of the privacy and took it back so we don’t all end up going somewhere where most people don’t want to be and won’t enjoy. The choice is yours…
PS If you’re in the UK, although it’s not on the official page, there’s a (CyberParty) event at English PEN tonight – seems like there are still tickets available…
For those of you who aren’t Robot Geeks and missed DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge mid this year, don’t worry! Only one day ago the DARPA Robotics Challenge Live Trials have just completed
(Spoiler Alert – I’ll reveal the winner later on :)
In case you’ve never heard of the DARPA Robotic Challenge and are wondering it’s significance, they had another one called the Grand Challenge for Autonomous Vehicles. It started in 2004 and no vehicle could complete it! They then scheduled another for 2005 which Stanford won with a tricked-out VW Touareg R5 called Stanley. This wasn’t the end though…
We then moved on to the Urban Challenge, which was won by Boss, a Chevy Tahoe with Stanford getting second place with Junior. Why is that significant? Because Sebastian Thrun (in the photo above) is the Director of the Stanford AI laboratory and also a Google Engineer. Yes, the Google Car is based on Junior, a modified Volkwagen Passat Wagon which came second in the Urban Challenge. Now back to the present and the Robotics Challenge…
You can find out more at the actual DARPA Robotics Challenge site or from the DARPA YouTube Channel which has a lot of content! If you want a bit more background, first watch Robotic Expectations & The Challenge History. The teams are all over the place, so here’s a slightly more structured curation of teams that had their own unique robots:
|Yes, that’s a female robot!||Uses flexible “muscles”|
|A mostly 3-D Printed robot||Which is based on a chimp|
|Essentially built from one component!||A clever multi-limbed robot|
|A lightweight robot||One of the few Japanese designed robots|
|An Open Architecture Robot!!!|
In the end though, the top 8 (who will receive continued funding) were:
- Schaft (27)
- IHMC Robotics (20)
- Tartan Rescue (18)
- MIT (16)
- Robosimian (14)
- TRACLabs (11)
- WRECS (11)
- TROOPER (9)
I’ve bolded and underlined the ones based on Atlas (which are 1/2). Why is this significant? Because Google just bought Boston Dynamics, who manufacture Atlas!!! What’s more, Google also owns Schaft who won! Monopoly anyone?…
As we saw from the Vehicles, it doesn’t matter whether a Google team actually wins. One thing you can guarantee – Google will be making robots in a few years which will be commercially available by the end of this decade. Given Google’s “record” – i.e. blatantly violating peoples privacy and who knows what else, I’m not sure how good this really is…
Yes, I know they’ve feigned disgust at various NSA revelations, but remember that their chairman Eric Schmidt, once said “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place”
I’m still waiting for him to mail me his social security number and bank account details, because hey, he’s obviously an upstanding guy who has nothing to fear… ;-) How would you feel about having a Google Spy (oops Robot) in your home?
One question remains though – where are Honda in all this? Ironically, the Japanese did win this challenge, but using technology which is pre ASIMO. I think HONDA are quite rightly keeping to themselves as what do they really need to prove? If you look at any recent ASIMO information you can see that it’s way beyond where all the DARPA people are, which is not to say they won’t catch up, but who knows what’s in HONDA’s labs?… The last information we have is from 2011 which is pretty awesome!
Also, they don’t really need to participate in the “DARPA Challenge” as they’re already working on a Disaster Response Robot Based on ASIMO and are using ASIMO to Act as an Autonomous Explaining Robot – beat that DARPA door opening droids! ;-)
My hopes and predictions (since we’re getting near New Year) for the future on Robots?
Google will obviously have a number of models with military and civilian applications which will become a major profit centre for them (thanks military industrial complex :) – not a surprise considering all the “hard AI” work they’re doing with Kurzweil – stay tuned next decade…
Honda will enter with ASIMO and buddies around the same time. They’ll probably be more expensive but will be more consumer friendly and secure (i.e. they (hopefully) won’t be spying on you).
Open Source will have something, and Hubo definitely looks like a good start – I like the concept that I could own a robot that I can trust and improve :-)
A while ago I watched a very disturbing documentary, Heist – Who stole the American Dream? on how an attack has been underway on the Free Enterprise system by some elite individuals (e.g. David Koch – can’t wait to see Citizen Koch when it comes out) and their Corporations.
Sounds like your average “nutter conspiracy theory”? Well, it might be if it wasn’t for the fact that the basis of all this, the “Powell Memorandum: Attack On American Free Enterprise System” (published 1972) is now widely available on the net from such as the Washington and Lee University School of Law Powell Archive after it was leaked.
In fact, here’s a link directly to the PDF / Scan of the original memorandum which was originally written by Lewis Powell (who later became a Justice of the Supreme Court) for Eugene B Sydnor Jr and the Chamber of Commerce. The end goal is as the film says “A Corporate Makeover of America”.
The film then goes on to outline how what we have today is an eerily “step by step” implementation of the Powell Memorandum. But – it’s not finished! There’s more to come, but I’ll let the film outline that…
If you’re at all an independent thinker and not part of the top 0.0…01% then here’s a few very disturbing facts:
- US Corporations currently have US$1.5T in offshore accounts as they’re only paying an average of 13% Tax, with many of the largest such as Exxon Mobil, Chevron and GE paying none or even getting rebates!
- Due to the crash:
- US$10T in Housing Wealth was lost
- 10M Families lost homes to foreclosure and 11M more are “underwater”
- 10M Workers lost jobs
- As a result, there are now 47M (or about 15%) Americans living in poverty
If you’re interested finding out more outside of the film, here’s a great analysis The Powell Memo (also known as the Powell Manifesto) from reclaim democracy and Google will give you a heap of information.
I’m not the most prolific of bloggers, but after that first post on the 30th June 2012 “Hello world! Of Architecture and Change” this is now the 100th post – WOOHOO! As you can see above, I had a fairly modest celebration with a few Grenadier mates – thanks guys ;-)
As with any Base-10 based moment, I think it’s time for a bit of reflection and cogitation… What better place to start than the “mission statement” from that first post:
If you’re interested in IT, Privacy, Science, Maths, Process, Systems (of people and technical), Programming, Organisations and any other topics that grab my attention, then you may want to follow this.
So how did I score?
- I think I had pretty good coverage of IT, Process, People Systems and Organisations
- But, I only touched on maths and didn’t really cover any Science, Technical Systems (ironic or not, as that’s what I work with much of the time) or Privacy (although I did tweet a lot on this as I have some pretty strong and liberal views on this).
- “any other topics” covered a number of things such as some funny movies, inspiring kids, The DailyRiczWest which was an attempt at semi-automatic curation, some physical and virtual holidays, and some reviews of things and conferences. I also chatted with some bots, lamented Generation Debt Recession, Curated some Tweets by Jennifer Sertl, was on a train with a Happy American Conductor in the UK, used The Most Expensive form of travel in The World, did a Juice Reboot and went to a Campus PARTY all in the past 1.5 years!
The inevitable question is where now? Firstly, I think it’s time for a renewed mission statement:
To boldly go, where I've not gone before To seek out new ways of being, living, thinking and working To explore seemingly strange new worlds and ideas of other people These are the voyages of me... In physical, virtual, emotional & mental space: The final frontiers
- I like blogging about “anything”. I know this may be frustrating for some who very much stay on a particular “message topic”, as one day I’m talking about a product, another some programming, people or an organisation type. Well, that’s just me so I won’t change that…
- I do want to increase the “technical content”, by which I mean around Architecture, Design and Programming. I got drawn down a people and process rabbit hole, which in some ways culminated with previous post on Toxic Waterfall. I’ll still blog in this area, but have a lot of technical ideas I want to explore and talk about along the way
- I think topics like Maths, Science, Privacy and the like are probably better covered on Twitter, which I’ll be getting back on to next year after I’ve returned from a well earned break in Australia
- People (& Organisations)
- Process (with People and Organisations)
- Technology (to implement Processes for People in Organisations)
but most importantly in a humane context
I’ve recently finished up my current contract and in the Northern Hemisphere it’s pretty much holiday time. So apart from just returning from a wonderful Fly & Flop at Madeira in the capital Funchal last week, I’m returning from my break from blogging.
A lot has been happening in the interim and I have big plans for the 2nd half of this year which I’ve already started on, but I just thought it was time to say “hello again” – it’s been great to see that people are still checking out my previous posts
Whilst there, on one of the two days we actually left “the village” we hired a Renault Twingo for the day from City Bubbles in Madeira who I’d encourage people to support if in Madeira or later (probably next year) in Lisbon on the mainland. I have to say that it was great fun and I felt really good knowing that I was cruising around in a pretty carbon neutral way.
Anyway, stay tuned for lots of fun, facts and frivolity – Richard.
It’s that time of year where everyone is reflecting on the last year, so I thought I’d toss my hat in to the ring. Personally, it’s been a year of great change, having moved from a highly toxic street in Reading (where our dog unfortunately passed away just before we left) to a beautiful one in Ashford where we are much more settled and I’m at last able to relax, grow and learn in a supportive environment.
That’s enough about me though, what about the IT Industry and wider world from my perspective?
- The year Apple Stumbled – It wasn’t just iMaps, it was the lack of innovation and wierd and frequent release schedules which all smacked of internal chaos – understandable given that Jobs passed away late the previous year, but they’ll need to get back on track if they want those stock options to be worth something
- The year Microsft Stumbled – two words: Windows 8 or Windows RT or Microsoft Surface. I must admit that I’m less disappointed with W8 than I though I would be – only going by playing with it in a store though as I’d never install it on any of my computers. It’s not over though, so the real question is what’s going to happen with W8 and Surface (Pro)
- SEMAT – Software Engineering Method and Theory has been pretty much defined by Ivar Jacobson and his merry band of Industry Legends and Corporations. It was favourably received by the OMG in December
- ArchiMate picks up steam – for me at least before this year, it was only occasionally being used, whereas now, many organisations are using it for Enterprise and Solution Designs and then linking these to UML Technical Designs and Realisations
- Clojure – I’ve been getting in to this and went to the London Skills Matter Clojure eXchange. Rather than a bunch of enthusiasts though, I met a bunch of enthusiasts, 1/2 of whom were working in Clojure! It seems this is probably an increase of a few hundred percent over the previous year, so something is happening. This may be part of the wider movement to “different” and sometimes functional languages.
- Light Table – at the moment this is only a Clojure IDE, which will be expanded to handle other languages, but I’m yet to be sold on it. The demo was really cool, but the releases won’t run my code (which obviously works in other environments) and the interface feels a bit too simple at the moment. They’ve got kickstarter funding, so here’s hoping that we start seeing more features and functionality from the original demo as it could be one of the best development environments ever!
- Raspberry Pi – how can this not be mentioned??? It’s a UK concept that is taking the world by storm and riding a wave that was started by Arduino, DreamPlug and the like. The great bit is that Raspberry Pi only opened the space, much as OLPC did for small cheap laptops. The side effects already are and I’m sure will be awesome
- FreedomBox, first proposed by Eben Moglen is gradually getting there. Not there yet, but it will get there and hopefully redress much of the planned snooping that governments around the world have fallen in love with
- The Maker Movement seemed to jump up a level with people even 3-D printing guns and starting to sue each other over who owns what and can sell it
- Fibre rollout in UK seems to be really happening and I’m liking what I see. I signed up on the minimal (and slowest) plan but it’s easily enough for me at 75G : ~ 30Mbps down and ~10Mbps up (real rather than pretend bandwidth). The great bit is for an extra £10 or so I can double those rates! The best way to get decent FTTC seems to be by going through a BT Reseller such as Xilo / Uno
- Nonviolent Communication – highlighted by Bob Marshall and created by Marshall Rosenberg, this seems to be gaining ground, along with concepts like Soft Power. This (hopeful) trend towards a kinder, gentler and more humane approach may hopefully only be the start
- Lot’s of Noise from the Quiet People ;-) There seems to be a pick up in dialogue about introversion and quietude – all good stuff
- The continuing Industrialisation of Agile. Agile stopped being done widely (in smaller numbers, but more effectively) ages ago. What we seem to have now is a bunch of PM’s who have done “Scrum” or “Agile” training and are operating using the same patterns – “I want that velocity increased next sprint!”
- The world didn’t end! This is not a unique phenomenon though. Apparently at the end of the last millennium, the church predicted the end of the world, and as a result waged a number of wars to convert the heathens to christianity before the end of days – sound familiar?
- Thinking we know How to Create a Mind – I’m writing a review of this, but overall it looks like Kurzweil may be right to the degree that we’ll have significant AI’s by the end of the next decade.
- The US (aka The United States of Goldman-Sachs) edging closer to becoming a fascist corporate regime with warrantless wiretapping, legalising of domestic drones and the effective elimination of Posse Comitatus. This doesn’t leave the populous (who all seem to be classified as “possible terrorists”) with (m?)any rights should the government and it’s “leaders” decide to “turn corporate nasty”. Many in the US such as Naomi Wolf have spoken out about such issues, so here’s hoping that humanity and openness prevail over fear and alienation
That’s pretty much it. We’re off this evening to watch the London fireworks on a cruisey boozy boat on the Thames, so I hope you all have / had a great NYE.
Early Preview – just wanted to post this to force myself to update it for Monday – pretty much complete, except for a few examples
This is not going to be a book review of the classic by Clocksin & Mellish (which the image at the left is from), but if you want a review: It’s a CLASSIC – if you’re interested in Prolog programming – BUY IT!
A recent post by Bob Marshall (@flowchainsensei) about Nonviolent Programming got me thinking… Most programming languages are Imperative, i.e. you tell the computer what to do. There is however another paradigm – Declarative, where you tell it what you want (need?). There is a subtle but significant difference here – I can say “I want to go to the shops” (which is a query) and if there are enough facts and rules (aka transformations) then the computer just gives me a result!
In case you think declarative programming is some theoretical concept from academia – it is. But it’s widely used, and probably by you unless you’ve been under a programming rock for the last 20+ years… Some examples? SQL, HTML, XML, XSLT and “configuration files” from frameworks such as Spring and J(2)EE. If you’re lucky and have used a rules engine, then you’ve been doing declarative programming with what is probably a subset of Prolog.
Overall, the above are restricted in their capabilities as they’re essentially domain specific languages, whereas Prolog is a fully generic language. So how do you “program” in Prolog, and what’s the difference between it and a declarative program? Let’s clarify this with an example – I want to work out what type of transport to get around – let’s start with going from home to the local shop.
I know the distance from my home to the shop, and that’s a fact:
distance(home, shop, 0.5).
furthermore, I know the range of various types of transport and they’re also facts:
range(walking, 0, 1). range(car, 2, 100). range(plane, 101, 10000).
Now, all I have to do is work out the best way to get from my place to the shop, which is a query where Prolog will try and solve for the unbound variable METHOD:
transport_method(home, shop, METHOD).
There’s only one thing missing now, and that’s the program! Well, it’s not really a program in Prolog, it’s actually a rule:
1: transport_method(FROM, TO, METHOD) :- 2: distance(FROM, TO, DISTANCE), 3: range(METHOD, MIN_DISTANCE, MAX_DISTANCE), 4: DISTANCE >= MIN_DISTANCE, DISTANCE =< MAX_DISTANCE.
Which is pretty much common sense, i.e.
1: In order to get FROM one place TO another I need a METHOD 2: I'll need to know the DISTANCE 3: Each METHOD has a MIN & MAX DISTANCE it's best suited for 4: The DISTANCE I want to go is between those MIN & MAX DISTANCES
So if I run the query I get:
transport_method(home,shop,METHOD). METHOD = walking yes done.
The interesting thing is that there were no “commands” I didn’t have to tell the computer how to do it step-by-step. All I had to do was tell it what I “knew” (in the form of facts and rules) and what I “needed” as a query.
Anyone who knows an Imperative language will know that to do this would require all sorts of arrays / lists / maps and some loops. I’m not going to illustrate what this would look like in Java, but it wouldn’t be pretty.
“Ah,” you may say “there must be a price!?” Of course there is, as there’s no such thing as free lack of code. The price is the fact that the query is being satisfied by an Inference Engine which gives us all sorts of advantages…
>>> to come – more queries & examples…
In the past, there have been some concerns with Prolog, the major one being performance. Given that most modern implementations only have an ~25% overhead over Imperative languages, does that argument really hold any more when we have so much bandwidth and memory? When the major cost to building software is people?
Firstly, I must admit I’m a bit of a Kurzweil Fan. Not in a groupie kind of way, but more in a way that I’m an optimist who believes in technology, and so is he. So as soon as I found out that he’d written a new book (which was about a day after it was released) I ordered it. Then on Monday I had and started reading… I’m not a speed reader and have no intent to even try on this book, so it will probably take me until the weekend or beyond to finish it (I also have a life that doesn’t involve computers & books ;). I therefore thought I’d to an Agile / Iterative / Incremental / Progressive review. I won’t publish every day, but every few until I’m done (and I may slow down near the end as I suspect it’s one of those books that builds up as it goes).
My plan is to go by the chapters I’ve read, then summarise / comment and probably go back over the whole thing and refactor in to a “Gold Release”.
Before we get in to my review, for a counterpoint, you may want to check out The New Yorker’s “Trendy, Dubious, Sarcastic” Review (just my opinion ;) entitled Ray Kurzweil’s Dubious New Theory of Mind. It seems to be not just me that has this opinion though as one of the Anonymous comments best sums up reasoned (to me) opinion:
This is a very poor excuse for a review. It misses so many points that it appears to be constructed for the purpose of allowing Gary Marcus to pose as a smug intellectual superior to Ray Kurzweil, and the ad hominum crap in the comment section only confirm my dismay at how thoroughly personal psychology trumps reasonable thought. Demeaning Kurzweil’s understanding may get you off, but it’s clear to this reader that this book is filled with interesting information and insights, and is a valuable contribution to the intellectual life of anyone interested in these matters.
I mean, who knows who Gary Marcus is and what has he done (other than write a seemingly vengeful review) in the bigger picture vs Ray Kurzweil?
Anyway, on to the good stuff – the review!
As I mentioned, I’m quite familiar with Kurzweil and the history of science, so in this light I was personally a bit “disappointed” by Chapter 1 “Thought experiments on the world” and Chapter 2 “Thought experiments on thinking” as I already knew most of this and therefore skimmed quite a bit. I can understand why it’s there though as this is an “enthusiastic layperson” book and he has to give some background. For me, Chapter 3 “A model of the neorcortex: The pattern recognition theory of the mind” is where the book really starts – it’s a great introduction to Kurzweil’s theories and obviously a basis for the whole book that will be expanded on. It talks about his theory that the brain operates as a hierarchy of pattern recognisers with some illustrations. Part of this theory is that the brain works in one-dimensional lists – what a mind blower, as this is the basis for Lisp which was invented by John McCarthy. There is much reference to his earlier work, such as the “Book reading machine for the blind” and the “Kurzweil Synthesiser” (which I’d buy if I was loaded) that shows this is the track he’s been on all along and is finally realising it…
Now we start to get down and dirty and gooey as Kurzweil starts off in Chapter 4 covering “The Biological Neocortex”. This was really interesting to me as my knowledge of the brain and it’s various areas is quite basic. He also refers to the recent NIH study of the brain and had the same thought as me – it looks like a crossbar switch! Are we inherently creating brains in our technology? The next Chapter 5 covers “The Old Brain” where Kurzweil contends the Neocortex has taken over much or at least severely enhanced many Old Brain functions. Hormones are given pretty short shrift though – maybe Richard Berglund, author of Fabric of the Mind may disagree. Only time and experimentation will tell. This is all pretty much wrapped up in Chapter 6 “Transcendent Abilities” which covers Love and Aptitude that touches on nature vs nurture but kind of neatly sidesteps the whole issue.
Having set the biological background in the previous chapters, Kurzweil now moves on to the question of “how do we build one of these brain thingies”, starting with Chapter 7 “The Biologically Inspired Digital Neurocortex” which starts off talking about brain simulations, gives us some more background on his original research and outlines Vector Quantisation that is a technique that provides a compressed way to capture learning. He also outlines Hidden Markov Models which seem to have a similarity to the brains functions. There’s also mention of LISP, which also works in 1-D lists – coincidence or reflection of our structure? After all that theory, there’s a nice general discussion about out current efforts in machine intelligence, such as Watson which leads nicely in to Chapter 8 “The Mind as Computer” that gives a compressed history of the original development of computers. My only criticism is that like most Americans he overlooks Turing in preference to von Neumann with regards to implementing a fundamental computer architecture. There is one thing I didn’t know here, which is that von Neumann wrote near the end of his life about neural processing and even tried to estimate the amount of computing needed – these estimates still hold today!
According to Wikipedia, the term applies to “People* of the Renaissance who sought to develop skills in all areas of knowledge, in physical development, in social accomplishments, and in the arts.”
Again, from Wikipedia: “They had a rounded approach to education that was typical of the ideals of the humanists of the time. A gentleman or courtier of that era was expected to speak several languages, play a musical instrument, write poetry, and so on, thus fulfilling the Renaissance ideal. The idea of a universal education was pivotal to achieving polymath ability, hence the word university was used to describe a seat of learning”
Intellectual: Being in IT, that’s obviously the first area covered, well at least in a few areas, but what about the other areas?
Physical: As we all know, IT or any office work is notorious for being physically bad for you, so let’s assume that we’re all doing some form of physical exercise or discipline in order to counteract that.
Artistic: This of course exercises the right brain through activities such as painting, photography, poetry, music etc… Yet how many of us devote a reasonable amount of time to the practice and development of any of these skills?
I’ll hold my hand up and admit that in recent years I’ve dropped the ball on the Artistic front. I used to be an avid photographer and musician (synthesizers, of course ;). It’s only now that I’ve moved to a safe environment that I’m finally getting back in to these two pursuits, and loving it! To put my money where my mouth is, here’s a little “noodle” I call “Space Guitar”
and here’s a photo I took during a recent walk through Kings Wood near Challock
How about you? How is your “softer, creative and artistic side” going? The great thing is that you’ve got your profession, so you don’t need to become a professional in this area, just do and enjoy it :-)
Although this post is aimed at IT People, I think it wouldn’t be that bad for society overall, given it’s current left-brain, (bad) capitalistic** bent which seems to be sending us headlong down a road or track that doesn’t seem very nice – it’s not too late though.
PS Wondering why the graphic at the beginning? It’s from a ground-breaking Sci-Fi animation called Renaissance – well worth a watch
* The Wikipedia entry says “Gifted People” but I don’t think that’s what we need to strive for here. I do photography and music – not to a professional level, but to one that makes me happy – I think that’s the key for this.
** I think there is such a thing as “good capitalism”, it’s just that we’re not seeing much of it at the moment as it needs some input from the right brain in order to enact qualities such as empathy and humanity
We’ll start with a legend, Ray Kurzweil talking at the most recent Demo Conference
I know there’s a lot of debate around Kurzweil and the whole Singularity Concept, but you have to give him credit for actually working towards this, as will be outlined in his upcoming book (which he mentions) How the Mind Works and How to Build One. I’ll certainly be buying a copy when it comes out!
Speaking of self-organising systems, I just watched a fantastic TED talk on The self-organizing computer course
Which touches on something I’ve always believed, which is that in order to really understand computing, people need some deep knowledge. I was lucky in that I have a double degree in Computer Science and Instrumental Science (which is basically a stripped down engineering course) and grew up in an era when you had to build your own computer! Ever heard of the Sinclair Mk 14, Mini-Scamp or EDUC-8? Amazingly, Simon Shocken gets students to build a whole computer in one semester!!! You can find out more at http://www.nand2tetris.org/
Another great TED video on The currency of the new economy is trust
that mentions AirBnB and a very interesting service called TaskRabbit. Also related is a great report Social Currency 2012 Report, that was highlighted by @JenniferSertl which shows that there is real momentum building behind companies doing real social media engagement. And no, having a Twitter and Facebook account isn’t sufficient!
Finally, if you’re in to Clojure, then you should probably check out the video by Arthur Edelstein about Clooj, a great little IDE written in Clojure
It’s amazing to think this guy does all this in his spare time! Personally, I’m not an “emacs guy”, just because I never got in to it, and therefore use Clooj. The second half has a great demo of a new feature that enables you to find and integrate shared code in to Clooj – think of them as micro-libraries.