(Brad Reed) Imagine having millions of nanobots in your brain that constantly remind you to log into Google+. That seems to be the vision of Google engineering director Ray Kurzweil, who tells The Wall Street Journal that by the 2030s we’ll have “millions, billions of blood cell-sized computers in our bloodstream… keeping us healthy, augmenting our immune system, also going into the brain and putting our neocortex onto the cloud.”
And what will these nanobots do for us once they’re in our brain, you ask? Well according to Kurzweil they’ll help us think of wittier quips that we can use to impress people.
“In 2035, I see somebody approaching me and I want to impress them and I want to think of something clever… I’ll be able to access additional neocortex and think of something clever,” he explains.
Kurzweil, of course, has earned his fame by making bold predictions about technology’s future and he believes that humanity will use technology attain immortality sometime over the next 30 years. Of course, the 65-year-old Kurzweil is smart enough to know that there’s a chance his flesh body (or as he calls it, “Body 1.0″) could die before he gets to upload his brain into a computer and fly around the world as a swarm of nanobots.
To ensure that he lives long enough to see such technological marvels, Kurzweil has said that he takes “250 supplements (pills) a day” and receives “a half-dozen intravenous therapies each week (basically nutritional supplements delivered directly into my bloodstream, thereby bypassing my GI tract).”
The lesson here is that while the thought of hooking our brains up to the cloud sounds crazy right now, it’s not nearly as far-out as some of Kurzweil’s other predictions.
Nomination for top government wireless regulator job subverted research on cell phone radiation dangers
(Lloyd Burrell, Contributor) Tom Wheeler, former head of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) and frontrunner nominee to become the next Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), allegedly suppressed and biased research from the nation’s largest cell phone health research project while he served as head of the CTIA.
Timing critical – safety standards under review
Wheeler’s nomination comes at a critical time. The FCC is responsible for setting the U.S. safety standards that are supposed to protect people from radiation emitted by cell phones, cell towers and other wireless technologies. These safety standards, widely considered to offer little protection to the general public, are currently under review.
Earlier this year, the BioInitiative Working Group, a body of 29 independent scientists and health experts from 10 countries, launched a scathing attack on the inadequacy of the current standards. The report’s authors, re-iterating their position as published five years earlier, concluded, “The clear consensus of the BioInitiative Working Group members is that the existing public safety limits are inadequate for both ELF (extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields) and RF (radio frequency radiation).”
Growing calls for improved wireless safety standards
A growing number of public health bodies are asking that the current wireless safety standards be reviewed. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as a Group 2B possible carcinogen. Doctors groups are sounding the alarm. In its 2012 position paper, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine stated, “Multiple studies correlate RF exposure with diseases such as cancer, neurological disease, reproductive disorders, immune dysfunction, and electromagnetic hypersensitivity.”
Similarly, the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE) and Irish Doctors Environmental Association (IDEA) state that “there is sufficient scientific evidence to warrant more stringent controls on the level and distribution of electromagnetic radiation.”
Tom Wheeler’s poor track record in protecting the public interest
In 1993, a gentleman named David Reynard appeared on the Larry King Show announcing he was suing the wireless industry. Mr. Reynard alleged that the fatal brain tumor suffered by his late-wife had been caused by cell phone radiation. The deceased woman’s doctor gave a vivid and visual demonstration using an x-ray of the tumor showing that the location of the tumor corresponded exactly with the location of the cell phone’s antenna.
The public’s fears were aroused, Telecoms shares took a hit and the cell phone industry started looking for solutions. In his capacity as president for the wireless industry’s trade association, Wheeler struck a deal with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The industry would fund and conduct a major study on the safety of cell phones; in return, the FDA would agree not to regulate cell phones until this research was complete.
A $28 million research program was set up and funded by mobile phone carriers and manufacturers from 1993 to 1999 with the epidemiologist, Dr. George Carlo, at its head. According to the industry publication, RCR Wireless News, right from the outset, Wheeler had very clear expectations of what he wanted the research program to show. At a 1993 meeting, when Carlo was asked what he had concluded to date, Wheeler, dissatisfied with Carlo’s reply, spoke up and said, “We need to say phones are safe…”
No more biased research
Enough of the biased research. The public deserves to know about the dangers of wireless and similar technologies in addition to proper protection from them.
Sources for this article include:
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(Bill Snyder) The carrier wants to charge websites for carrying their packets, but if they win it’d be the end of the Internet as we know it.
Think of all the things that tick you off about cable TV. Along with brainless programming and crummy customer service, the very worst aspect of it is forced bundling.
You can’t pay just for the couple of dozen channels you actually watch. Instead, you have to pay for a couple of hundred channels, because the good stuff is scattered among a number of overstuffed packages.
Now, imagine that the Internet worked that way. You’d hate it, of course. But that’s the direction that Verizon, with the support of many wired and wireless carriers, would like to push the Web. That’s not hypothetical. The country’s No. 1 carrier is fighting in court to end the Federal Communications Commission’s policy of Net neutrality, a move that would open the gates to a whole new — and wholly bad — economic model on the Web.
As it stands now, you pay your Internet service provider and go wherever you want on the Web. Packets of bits are just packets and have to be treated equally. That’s the essence of Net neutrality. But Verizon’s plan, which the company has outlined during hearings in federal court and before Congress, would change that. Verizon and its allies would like to charge websites that carry popular content for the privilege of moving their packets to your connected device. Again, that’s not hypothetical.
ESPN, for example, is in negotiations with at least one major cellular carrier to pay to exempt its content from subscribers’ cellular data caps. And what’s wrong with that? Well, ESPN is big and rich and can pay for that exemption, but other content providers — think of your local jazz station that streams audio — couldn’t afford it and would be out of business. Or, they’d make you pay to visit their websites. Indeed, if that system had been in place 10 years ago, fledglings like Google or YouTube or Facebook might never have gotten out of the nest.
Susan Crawford, a tech policy expert and professor at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, says Verizon wants to “cable-ize the Internet.” She writes in her blog that “The question presented by the case is: Does the U.S. government have any role in ensuring ubiquitous, open, world-class, interconnected, reasonably priced Internet access?”
Verizon: The New Standard Oil
Verizon and other carriers answer that question by saying no.
They argue that because they spent megabucks to build and maintain the network, they should be able to have a say over what content travels over it. They say that because Google and Facebook and other Internet companies make money by moving traffic over “their” networks, they should get a bigger piece of the action. (Never mind that pretty much every person and business that accesses Google or Facebook is already paying for the privilege, and paying more while getting less speed than users in most of Europe.)
In 2005, AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre famously remarked that upstarts like Google would like to “use my pipes free, but I ain’t going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it.”
That’s bad enough, but Verizon goes even further. It claims that it has a right to free speech and, like a newspaper that may or may not publish a story about something, it can choose which content it chooses to carry. “Broadband providers possess ‘editorial discretion.’ Just as a newspaper is entitled to decide which content to publish and where, broadband providers may feature some content over others,” Verizon’s lawyers argue in a brief (PDF).
Continue reading @ Info World
(Shepard Ambellas) Soon on the streets of America police departments will likely deploy a new toy. A new device much like a ray-gun, that can disable a motor vehicle at the touch of a button.
A new gadget built by Diehl Defense, much like a portable Electro-Magnetic Pulse ray gun, can disable a vehicles electronic circuitry rendering it useless in battlefield or pursuit conditions.
This technology was put to the test on the battlefield of Afghanistan in 2011, while police departments and militaries around the world will likely grovel over the device. Deihl Defense is also a maker of guided missiles and other weaponry.
The official website for Diehl Defense explains the use for the device in a convoy protection scenario reading, “The new HPEM (High-Power-Electro-Magnetics) technology protects convoys against improvised explosive devices (IEDs), can stop getaway vehicles and prevent unauthorized access to limited access areas. Thus, this technology contributes decisively to the protection of soldiers in international missions.
The use of nonlethal HPEM systems is a new capability enabling military and civil forces to eliminate command, information and monitoring systems. HPEM sources can be used for personal and convoy protection, for instance, to overload and permanently destroy radio-based fuzing systems. In contrast to conventional jammers, the HPEM convoy protection system is also effective against new types of sensor-based IEDs. Enemy vehicles with electronic motor management can be stopped inconspicuously by mobile and stationary HPEM systems (car stopping).
HPEM can also support special and police forces in fulfilling their tasks. HPEM systems suppress enemy communication and disturb reconnaissance and information systems, for instance, in freeing hostages.”
Some wonder how long it will be before this technology will be utilized on the “battlefield” of America.
 Protection Systems Convoy Protection – Diehl.com
This article first appeared @ The Intelli Hub
(CBSNY) Chunks of ice apparently fell from the sky on an 80-degree day in Brooklyn. The question is, where did they come from?
Terry Blasi and Louie Vitale said they were sitting on Blasi’s porch on Wednesday when something the size of a softball crashed through the trees.
“All of a sudden something had come down through the trees really loud and then a loud thump on the ground,” Vitale told TV 10/55′s Dick Brennan on Friday.
The pair raced to the street and found a chunk of ice.
“It must have come through really fast and then thud. It sounded like a bowling ball went through,” Blasi said.
This chunk of ice fell from the sky in Brooklyn on Sept. 4, 2013. (Photo: CBS 2)
Ice was scattered around the street.
“I said, ‘Holy [expletive]. Where did this come from?’ and we’re all looking up all over the sky,” Vitale said.
A plane is the most likely suspect as the ice landed on East 36th Street, near John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“Usually they say the ice is blue if it comes from an airplane latrine. But this is solid ice. I think it was something high-flying and it fell off,” Blasi said.
“I hope it’s not from outer space. Those things are radioactive,” a man named Dave said.
Blasi’s family is worried.
“My step-daughter grabbed the baby, panicked, ran, grabbed the baby, said it was extra-terrestrials,” Terry said.
Experts said that if it had come from space the impact would have been much worse.
Blais has preserved the ice in her freezer. The Federal Aviation Administration will look at the evidence on Monday. Until then, neighbors said they plan to take precautions.
“Hard hat, Kevlar. I’m gonna look both ways and then look up, left, right, and up,” Vitale said.
Blasi said she is dying to know what happened.
This article first appeared @ CBSNY
(Susanne Posel) National Institutes of Health (NIH) has begun an initiative to discover the viability of sequencing American infant’s DNA through the “heel stick” blood drawn screening conducted on newborns in hospitals to determine the propensity toward life-threatening diseases.
This scheme will cost $25 million over 5 years to understand each individual genetic code in lieu of having DNA routinely mapped and stored in a medical record.
Whether this study would have value has not been established. Experts warn that there are ethical questions surrounding such an endeavor.
Using genetic information to direct infant healthcare is a major concern.
The National Institute of Child health and Human Development (NICHHD) and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) are collaborating to fund this initiative.
This program will analyze DNA from 2,000 newborns to be sequenced by:
• Brigham and Women’s Hospital
• Boston Children’s Hospital
• Children’s Mercy Hospital
• University of California in San Francisco (UCSF)
• University of North Carolina
UCSF is being given $4.5 million to participate in the study. They will be tasked with assessing “whether large-scale gene sequencing aimed at detecting disorders and conditions can and should become a routine part of newborn testing.”
Alan E. Guttmacher, MD, director of the ICHD said : “Genomic sequencing has the potential to diagnose a vast array of disorders and conditions at the very start of life. But the ability to decipher an individual’s genetic code rapidly also brings with it a host of clinical and ethical issues, which is why it is important that this program explores the trio of technical, clinical, and ethical aspects of genomics research in the newborn period.”
The University of California at Berkley will provide bioinformatics experts to study “the potential of sequencing the exome” which is the preferred method of screening infants.
This work will examine “the exome’s potential for identifying disorders that California currently includes in the newborn screen, as well as those that are not currently screened for, but for which newborns may benefit if detection can occur early in life.”
Continue reading @ Occupy Corporatism
(Julie Beal) DARPA issues a solicitation, they are looking for researchers who can develop the particular ability the solicitation calls for. Researchers respond with their ideas, and DARPA awards funding to the most promising proposals.
A very creepy solicitation (SB131-002) has now been released, which calls for a “Portable Brain Recording Device & App”. The thing is, this technology is already affordable, if you like that kind of thing, but DARPA wants it to be real easy to get, so it’s gotta be around $30. They need someone who can make it smaller and cheaper, because, according to the solicitation, they want “to promote use by a wide audience”, including children.
“Having EEGs in every classroom in America”, say DARPA, would allow teachers to devise lesson plans using the devices to help children learn about the biology of “the brain and sensory systems”, by using these brain-to-computer interfaces (BCIs):
“Students could record their own brain activity and download the data to their iPad.”
The Agency also claims the devices could be worn by “average citizens”, which would crowd-source huge amounts of EEG data that could be analysed to advance the understanding of neuroscience.
It also seems DARPA want students to use the EEG devices for more than just biology lessons, as the solicitation mentions the devices could be used to, “modulate student feedback based on brain state”, which would mean students being kitted out with these devices much or all of the time, as education morphs into isolated interactions with “digital tutor or electronic learning systems”.
Students in the future are expected to have their own personal learning experiences, with avatar tutors, interactive games, and tailored courses.
A ‘portable brain recording device’ can already be bought by Joe Public, for about $100 to $400 a piece. It is a BCI, consisting of a wireless headset which sends EEG data to a smartphone or computer, which is then analysed using an app. The companies currently marketing these devices include Neurosky, Myndplay, and Emotiv.
The devices can read, learn, and understand the neural patterns of the user, allowing them to control things on a computer, such as games, and even movies, by the power of their thought alone.
The Neurosky device is being marketed as a way to help autistic children, and even as a safety feature. This is the most troubling claim – saying the device can detect if you’re about to fall asleep, and can interact with your smart car to stop you having a crash – because anything that is said to make us safer can end up being deemed mandatory in the future (like wearing a seatbelt).
Even if there were no tyranny intended, the desires of the Producers are enough to turn us all into slaves. The Producers feed the consumers in a perpetual cycle – that’s all the world is now, just one Big Business. And the Producers need to understand the consumers, so they know what to produce, what to give them, and how to manipulate them into wanting what they have to offer. So advertisers are engaged in neuromarketing, and futurists are sure we will all have our own personalized consumer bubble to live in soon.
Personal EEG devices generally start out as military endeavors, or are planned as medical aids, but after that there’s money to be made by marketing them to the whole wide world, with a wealth of a extra benefits to be had, especially the acquisition of highly actionable data, such as EEG recordings. Such data will become even more significant if the United Nations manages to implement natural capital accounting, as this involves measuring Global Happiness, which is best done by analyzing EEG records.
Mission creep is the scourge of the age.
Neurosky say their main business is supplying the chips needed to make brain-to-computer interfaces possible, and the company is looking to increase its business with other companies wanting to incorporate BCI capabilities into their products. Neurosky’s future will include augmenting the EEG device with sensors that measure, “galvanic skin response (GSR), muscle electromyography (EMG), heartbeat electrocardiography (ECG or EKG), retinal electrooculography (EOG), blood oximetry and other biosensor areas”. All of these physiological variables are also used as biometric identifiers, and as a way to profile personality.
Neurosky assert their product is “unidirectional”, i.e. it sends signals to the computer/app, but cannot receive signals back. However, for many years, neuroscience has been assessing the efficacy of stimulating the brain, such as with pulses of microwave energy, so as to influence mood, intelligence, and even movement.
With all this in mind, just how far will DARPA get with their solicitation? Four small businesseshave been granted nearly$100,000 each to develop the “portable brain recording device and app” – but will any of them manage to make one “without requiring a proprietary interface or dongle”, for as little as $30?
Let’s hope not.
(Thomas Dishaw) As Apple slave goods continue to dominate every corner of the technological market, there are more and more reasons surfacing as to why consumers should not support this company.
If that doesn’t stop you right there, perhaps you should take a look at the inhumane working conditions inside their Chinese factories that now come equipped with suicide nets to prevent workers from jumping to their death.
I could go on and on about all the terrible practices Apple institutes on both sides of the coin, but the one that is most disturbing is Apple’s assault on basic human rights. I would categorize the ability to use my phone’s camera for pictures and video recording as a basic human right.
This will be drastically regulated in the near future with the institution of U.S. Patent No. 8,254,902 better known as “apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device.” The patent granted in August 2012 gives Governments, businesses, and network owners the right to disable your camera, wi-fi and video capabilities on an iPhone for any reason, at any time. Apple, being the sneaky innovators they are, will pre-package this application into the phones and most likely all other mobile products in the future.
The technology will be activated when infrared sensors detect your phone going into camera mode, ultimately disabling it and stopping you from taking a picture or video. Apple is marketing the technology as a crime fighting tool that will combat piracy at live music events.
However, imagine you are at a Monsanto, World Bank or G-20 protest and you can’t document anything because your phone mysteriously won’t record or take pictures. Or imagine if they equipped buildings like the Press Briefing Room, The National Press Club and Capital Buildings to disable your device, which would allow them to select which reporters get access to critical information and interviews based on allegiance to particular political beliefs and ideals.
Ultimately I can see this kill switch being used by all companies such as slaughterhouses, grocery stores, malls and any fortune 500′s that don’t want unhappy customers giving them bad press and spreading it on all the social networks.
Once they institute this Orwellian technology it will drastically handcuff independent journalist, whistleblowers and activist who depend on the basic capabilities of photos and video to document their claims. Unbeknownst to the technocrats there is a way to beat them, and it is as simple as going low-tech instead. I suggest everyone visit their local Goodwill, garage sale or thrift store to purchase a 35 mm camera. This is just one of the ways we can beat them at their own game.
(Thomas Dishaw) A very unusual “rainbow” chemtrail was spotted over Maryland recently.
On August 14 2013 Will Farrar, of the popular You Tube channel Whats Up In The Sky, uploaded the video of a multi-colored chemtrail sprinkling us with all kinds of goodies like barium salts, polymers and aluminum oxide.
If you are unfamiliar with the terms chemtrail or geo-engineering, I would suggest watching this great documentary, What In The World Are They Spraying.
(Thomas Dishaw) Just a glitch in the radar or something much more?
A perfectly round weather ring appears between Michigan and Toronto then mysteriously vanishes. According to times stamps it was present for 20 minutes.
The screenshot is taken from Weather.com at 11:15 AM EST on Friday August 9th.
Could this be caused by geo-engineering or HAARP? I’m not sure on this one, I would like to hear what the experts have to say. Don’t we all love a good conspiracy?
(Thomas Dishaw) These days it seems people are willing to forego privacy and common sense in order to embrace technological advancements that Orwell himself could not have dreamed up.
What people fail to realize, or worse choose to ignore, is how dangerous it is to allow companies or the Government free access to every thought, move, inclination, and desire you have in exchange for certain “conveniences”.
Lets start with the Starbucks phone app which, unfortunately, my wife loves . This app allows customers to organize store gift cards, reload gift cards, find the nearest Starbucks locations, and monitor rewards earned by using the card at any participating Starbucks location, all in the palm of your hand. Seems pretty tame, right? Especially once you factor in that 10% of Starbucks transactions are made through the mobile phone app. Well if you look into and think about how these benefits actually work it tells a frightening tale.
Starbucks is the envy of all corporations, effectively transitioning customers to forget cash, skip debit cards and use their phone to make purchases, putting us one step closer to a cashless society or a chip in our body.
Next lets take a look at Apple, who is soon to release the new iPhone 5s. Apple is touting its biggest advancement in security which is fingerprint recognition. Privacy advocates like myself are jumping up and down over the rumor of intrusive technologies incorporated into this big brother tracking device. We already know cellphones listen and log every conversation we have even when turned off, and they can also access our cameras and be used as a banking tool soon to replace cash and debit cards. Do we really need to give them the ability to finger print us as well?
One of the most anticipated events since the return of Jesus Christ is the unveiling of Google Glasses. Tech Slaves are chomping at the bit to spend a hefty $1500 for a pair of zombie glasses to not only have their privacy invaded, but to be given the ability to invade others privacy as well. As we approach brain dead levels of society the thought of people walking around recording your every move while simultaneously texting and watching porn should strike a nerve with anyone who still has a pulse.
With the unfortunate suspicious death of Michael Hastings, two DARPA carjackers show us how easy it is for a Government agency to take over your automobile through your cars built in technology. It is kind of scary to watch technology manipulate basic driving techniques we take for granted every day. If the thought of gas tank manipulation, speed manipulation and loss of control of your steering wheel don’t scare you, maybe loosing your brakes will. Thanks DARPA for making non believers into believers with this brilliant showcase giving us more proof the Government did murder Michael Hastings.
One of the more unbelievable and intrusive technologies is the ability of your refrigerator or any other house hold appliance to spy on you. The privacy you thought you had in your own home may not be so private after all. Whats next, the monitoring of food purchases and waist through RFID? Maybe we could link it to Obamacare, making sure we are eating all of our fruits and vegetables? That would make Michelle happy, right? Anything to please our masters.
These are just the first five examples. Be sure to come back tomorrow to read about the remaining 5 ways Big Brother is taking over our lives.
(Thomas Dishaw) As the sun goes into a peak time of solar activity I’m very concerned about the latest news from NASA.
A chunk of the sun is missing and heading toward earth at 2 million miles per hour. It’s an astonishing 80 times bigger than earth.
Scientists are baffled by the recent activity, warning us a global blackout could occur.
Although no timetable was given on the arrival of this solar flare, actions like this make me wonder if their hiding something.
(Rob Williams) The power, reach and influence of the Central Intelligence Agency is a staple of conspiracy theories.
The news that the CIA is reportedly part-funding a scientific geoengineering study into how to control the weather is unlikely to dampen speculation over their activities.
According to US website ’Mother Jones’ the CIA is helping fund a study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) that will investigate whether humans could use geoengineering – which is defined as deliberate and large-scale intervention in the Earth’s climatic system – to stop climate change.
The NAS website describes the study as an investigation into “a limited number of proposed geoengineering techniques, including examples of both solar radiation management (SRM) and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) techniques.”
The purpose of this is to comment “generally on the potential impacts of deploying these technologies, including possible environmental, economic, and national security concerns”, the website claims.
Solar radiation management (SRM) is a theoretical branch of geoengineering which moots the idea of reflecting sunlight in an attempt to block infrared radiation and halt rising temperatures.
The cost of the project is reported to be $630,000, which NAS is splitting with the CIA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA reports say.
A reference on the NAS website to “the US intelligence community” funding the project refers to the CIA, an NAS spokesman claimed.
Continue reading @ the independent
(Ian Burrell) The power of computing, and the thrill of its apparently infinite possibilities, has also long been a source of fear.
Going into a San Francisco second-hand book shop, shortly before a visit to Google’s headquarters in California, I happened upon a copy of Dick Tracy, an old novel based on Chester Gould’s cartoon strip starring America’s favorite detective.
For a 1970 publication, the plot seemed remarkably topical. Dick, and his sidekick Sam Catchem, find themselves battling a sinister character known as “Mr Computer” who wants to control the world. His strange powers enable him to remember everything he hears or sees and recall it instantly. This is a bad guy who can store data, analyse voice patterns and read private thoughts.
My visit to the legendary “Googleplex” at Mountain View comes at an awkward time for the company. Edward Snowden’s revelations about the snooping of the US Government’s National Security Agency (NSA) in its clandestine electronic-surveillance programme PRISM have provoked a crisis of trust in Silicon Valley. Larry Page, Google co-founder and CEO, rushed out a blog to deny claims in leaked NSA documents that it – in parallel with other American internet giants – had been co-operating with the spying programme since 2009. “Any suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ internet activity on such a scale is completely false,” he said.
Trust is everything to Google. It stands on the verge of a technological breakthrough that can transform its relationship with us. Already, it is universally recognised as the world leader in searching for information. It handles around 90 per cent of internet searches in the UK: when we want to know something, most of us turn to Google. But it wants more – it wants to become our constant companion.
The rapid evolution of mobile technology has brought new opportunities to a business generating annual revenue in excess of $50bn (£33.7bn). It began, just 15 years ago, as a service that enabled you to type a request into a personal computer and be given links to associated websites. Things have rather moved on. Soon Google hopes to have the ubiquitous presence of a personal assistant that never stops working, capable of conversing naturally in any language. Ultimately, as Page and co-founder Sergey Brin have asserted, the goal is to insert a chip inside your head for the most effortless search engine imaginable. Some will find this prospect exciting. Others might want to call for Dick Tracy.
The first stage of this new level of intimacy is Google Glass, which I am invited to trial as part of a briefing on the company’s future plans.
My first impression is that this revolutionary contraption is remarkably unobtrusive. It looks like a pair of glasses and, at 36 grams, weighs about the same as a typical pair of sunglasses due to its largely titanium frame. Despite the chunkiness of the right temple – made from plastic and where all the technology is stored – there is no sense of imbalance.
The awkwardness only starts when you start to interact. You turn the contraption on by tapping your finger on the right side of the frame, or surreptitiously throwing your head back. On a screen projected a few inches in front of your right eyeball is a digital clock and the magic words “OK glass”, the uttering of which takes you to a range of task options: ask a question, take a picture, record a video, get directions to, send a message to, make a call to, make a video call to.
The idea of Google Glass is that you can walk down busy streets receiving helpful facts – without needing to take your mobile phone from your pocket. It could end the urban hazard of pedestrians staring at their mobiles instead of looking where they’re going.
At the moment it’s a work in progress, which is why the prototype is called the Explorer and the 10,000 American-based pioneers who are trialling the apparatus – mostly web developers and heavy social-media users – are dubbed “explorers”.
Does it work? Yes and no. Answering questions is its central feature. It likes straightforward instruction such as “OK Glass… Google – what is the height of David Cameron?”, returning within four seconds with an image of the Prime Minister and a computer voice telling me “David Cameron is six feet zero inches tall”. But when I ask for the name of the wife of his predecessor, Gordon Brown, I’m offered details of “Golden Brown”, a hit for The Stranglers in 1982.
The camera and video option is novel and discreet, except when you bark out the words: “OK Glass, take a picture!” Three seconds after giving the order, you have a shot (or film) which you can share with friends on the Google+ social network. One Explorer recently used Google Glass to snap a police arrest as it was taking place. The potential is enormous: a proud mum could film her son taking a penalty kick in a football match while dad, abroad but connected through the Google Hangout service, could watch the action live through his wife’s Google Glass. The more you hand your life over to Google, the more you get out of this technology.
Google Glass is part of a wider ecosystem and is not currently intended as an alternative to a mobile phone but as a complement to it. Glass needs the mobile in your pocket to locate your position and connect to your contacts via 4G and Bluetooth. Rather than encouraging users to be constantly gibbering in public, the default position for this device is “off”, I am told. The screen has been positioned above the eye line and at two o’clock on a clock face to ensure that the people f you are with know from your squint when you are consulting Glass.
But none of these caveats can conceal the scale of Google’s ambition. It is staking its future on a vast store of information called the Knowledge Graph, which is growing at an exponential rate. When it launched in May 2012, Knowledge Graph was a pool of 3.5 billion facts on 500 million of the world’s most searched subjects. In a little over a year the knowledge held on the Google servers has grown to 18 billion facts on around 570 million subjects.
This Knowledge Graph is the base for Google Now, the latest incarnation of Google which is personalizing the search engine by giving you a series of bespoke “cards” as you log on. They tell you the local weather, the traffic you might face on the way to work, details of your meetings and restaurant bookings taken from your Google email account, your team’s latest result and so on.
In Building 43 of the Googleplex, Ben Gomes talks with barely concealed excitement about a “new epoch”. A Google fellow and the company’s Vice President of Search he has been working on these technologies for 14 years. “[Knowledge Graph] is everything you have at some point asked a query about – plus everything that everyone else has thought of!” he exclaims. “It’s a meld of all the world’s interests and information needs.”
The future, he says, is for this enormous resource to be “present everywhere”. It’s a long step from the British Council library in Bangalore, where Gomes used to go to obtain his reading matter. “You borrowed a book – if it was available – and then you read it and got the next book. I got two books and that was all the information that I had for a week,” he says. “Today it would be unthinkable for that [information] not to be available in seconds.”
Google’s options have grown with recent advances in speech-recognition technology (it can now decipher 35 languages) and in natural-language processing, the “holy grail” that means the computer can understand what is being spoken (for example, knowing that “tall” refers to height) and hold a conversation. The “OK Google…” voice-prompted search tool (already installed on mobile apps) is to become standard on the Google Chrome engine.
Scott Huffman, Google’s engineering director, says the company’s intention is to “transform the ways people interact with Google”. That means having conversations similar to those you would have with humans. No longer will we have to go to “settings” to recalibrate our devices – we will simply order them to make the desired changes. And those devices will not be in our pockets – but all around us in every room.
“If you look back 10 years there was a computer on my desk and today there’s a computer in my pocket and it still has a screen and a keyboard,” says Huffman.
“But fast forward a bit and… I think there is going to be a device in the ceiling with microphones, and it will be in my glasses or my wristwatch or my shirt. And like the Google Glass it won’t have a keyboard… you just say ‘OK Google, blah-blah-blah’ and you get what you want.”
Where will it end? Gomes agrees that a chip embedded in the brain is far from a sci-fi fantasy. “Already people are beginning to experiment with handicapped people for manoeuvring their wheelchairs,” he says. “They are getting a few senses of direction with the wheelchair but getting from there to actual words is a long ways off. We have to do this in the brain a lot better to make that interaction possible. We have impatience for that to happen but the pieces of technology have to develop.”
Any visitor to the Googleplex will testify that this is not a regular company. By lunch time, Googlers are out on the sand of the beach volleyball court. A statue of a dinosaur skeleton – a pointed juxtaposition of past and future – has been decorated with model pink flamingos, hanging from its bones. Around the central patio there are awnings in Google-style primary colours which add to the impression of a holiday resort.
Continue reading @ Independent
(Anthony Gucciardi) The rise of ‘smart gun’ technology, which utilizes an RFID interface to allow for both the government and the manufacturer to remotely render the gun useless at any time, is the upcoming new tactic used by anti-Constitution control freaks in the effort to take away legal firearms from the hands of law-abiding citizens.
And these smart guns are coming much sooner than you think.
TriggerSmart, the manufacturer of the Orwellian weapons that already exist in various European regions thanks to branding that smart guns are the ‘safer’ alternative to real weapons, hopes to start selling smart guns within the United States as soon as possible — and you could see them make a grand entrance by 2014. But why would anyone with a brain ever buy these smart guns, whichliterally trace every action you take and send the data to the government for analysis?
Well, I believe that these smart guns will not simply be pushed by slick marketing via TriggerSmart and other invested corporations, but legislation that attempts to force these smart guns on the American public. As I originally covered back in March, smart guns are one of the biggest threats we face to the Second Amendment in history.
SMART GUNS: THE 2ND AMENDMENT ‘LOOPHOLE’
As the creators of the Big Brother weapons have already detailed in interviews, the true power behind these RFID-controlled smart guns is the concept that they are a loophole that allows for the government to disarm the people while still ‘upholding’ the Second Amendment. Essentially, it is the wet dream of anti-Constitutional mad men.
The government has tried taking away real guns from the general public, ultimately losing the war due to the fact that the public is too informed on the true statistics regarding gun control and gun defense. They cannot launch a hostile takeover of all guns within the country right now, and traitors to the nation like Dianne Feinstein are fully aware of this fact. As much as Feinstein and others would love to have ‘Mr. and Mrs. America’ turn in all of their guns, this simply will not happen in such a manner — at least not without mass warfare and bloodshed.
So what’s the next best thing? Smart guns that become paper weights at the discretion of the government.
In the event of a ‘terrorist attack’ of any kind, the government could shut down all smart guns in the area. In the event of an elevated terror alert level, there goes the guns. How about a mass shooting in your city? Better turn off the guns. Imagine if smart guns were prevalent during the Boston lockdown that followed the Boston marathon bombings, in which military-style police raided homes at gunpoint. Those smart guns would be turned off without any question.
And this is not even getting into the entire concept of how the smart guns could easily be hacked into at any point by virtually anyone.
The subject of smart guns I’m discussing right now is a glimpse into the future. In due time, the mainstream media news channels will begin discussing how great smart guns are and how they could prevent violence, as NPR has already done on a smaller scale.
It’s essential that you share this article as well as the video on the subject so that we can detail the timeline before it even happens. If we can document the truth here, and really inform people about the true reality of smart guns, we can ultimately beat the mainstream media before they even get started.
( Daniel Blustein) Sam Murphy of Cary, 14, stared at the screen with intense concentration. Her onscreen paddle quickly shot down to intercept a ball about to pass by.
The video game was Pong, but this is hardly the classic arcade version. Sam was motionless.
She was controlling the paddle with her mind.
“I think this is like the coolest thing ever,” Sam said. “I’m just thinking about it, and it’s going up.”
Sam and her opponent, Eli Wilber, 22, a recent Duke University graduate, wore wireless electrode caps that captured the electrical activity from the neurons in their brains to control the Pong paddles onscreen.
Sam is a camper and Wilber a counselor at Duke’s Summer Science Sleuths, a camp that aims to push high school students toward careers in science.
“Our role is to make science so fun, so much fun, and so interesting so they can’t not consider science,” said Chris Adamczyk, director of the program and the executive director of the Duke Center for Science Education.
The mind control Pong game was developed by David Schwarz, a Duke Ph.D. student excited to share his work with budding young scientists. To prepare for the campers, Schwarz tested the Pong activity in his lab on fellow students, some he had to pry away from the addictive mind-control game.
“The first time I played, I played for like an hour and a half without stopping,” said Vivek Subramanian, 23, who assisted Schwarz with the program.
“It’s supposed to be fun, first and foremost,” Schwarz said.
And it is.
“That was so much fun, oh my gosh, I’ve never done anything like that before”, said Cullen Morgan, a 10th grader from Wilmington.
But the program is also educational, giving students an introduction to neuroscience and the workings of a brain-machine interface, a device that can be controlled by just thinking.
The students first don headgear with spider-like arms, each containing a saline-soaked, felt-padded electrode. Some of the longer haired campers needed a bit of electrode wiggling and extra saline to make good contact. An onscreen diagram showed each electrode turn green when it was in the right place.
“1, 2, 3, go!” exclaimed Subramanian as he clicked to begin a brain training session.
Katy McNamara, 15, of Chapel Hill began repeatedly nodding her head. As she moved, the electrode cap sent her brain activity to the computer. The signal from her brain was linked to the control for moving the paddle down. When she reproduced the action, the paddle would drop.
“Oh, that is so cool!” said her opponent, Lehua Miller, 15, of San Diego, when she first saw the paddle move after the training was complete.
During the game, Katy vigorously nodded her head and blinked her eyes to move her paddle down and up. The paddle movement was erratic at first, but with a bit of practice – and a lot of concentration – the paddle moved with ease.
Eventually, some of the students could just imagine their physical action and the paddle would respond onscreen. “Wow, that’s really good. I’m really impressed,” said Schwarz, as one student made the paddle move while sitting motionless, imagining a leg kick.
Schwarz works in the lab of Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, a pioneer in capturing brain activity to control machines. In 1999, the Nicolelis lab developed a way for a rat to control a robot arm with its mind. And in 2011, it showed off a monkey that could move a computer cursor on screen just by thinking. The monkey could even “feel” textures on the screen that were conveyed via stimulation to its brain.
The mind-control Pong game is just a simple example of the power of technology that may one day let the paralyzed walk. The lab’s goal is to have a paralyzed person control an exoskeleton with her brain to perform the opening kickoff at soccer’s World Cup next year in Brazil, said Dr. Laura Oliveira, a senior research scientist in the Nicolelis lab.
“Our lab is interested to make it possible for paralyzed people to recover independence,” Oliveira said.
Schwarz hopes to streamline his game setup for others to use. When he graduates, he wants to continue to develop science outreach and use video games as a teaching tool.
The Pong game is important because it shows a real-world use for the research, he said.
And it really resonated with the students.
“Every year we do something that’s really crazy, just mind blowing,” said third-year camper Jourdan Bethea, 16, of Wilmington.
This year that something was Schwarz’s game of mind-control Pong.
This article first appeared @ newsobserver
(Michael Ricciardi) A series for experiments in animal-human bio-engineering proposed by a team of Japanese researchers has cleared its first regulatory hurdles, news sources inside Japan reported Tuesday.
The purpose of the proposed experiments is to grow human organs inside the body of a non-human animal.
While many in the US, Canada and Europe might have some foreboding about this ‘Island of Dr. Moreau’ – esque scenario, there is little aversion or opposition to such chimeric tinkering in Japan. In Japan, levels of scientific literacy are quite high by global standards and the culture takes enormous pride in its innovative talent — especially in the sciences; full approval for the experiments is expected in the next 30 days.
Once approval happens, the recommendation will be sent to a special committee charged with drafting guidelines regulating Japan’s state-of-the-Science bio-engineering programs.
The Japanese regulatory board currently permits the growing of chimeric (i.e., a combination of human and animal genomes) embryos in vitro for up to two weeks but prohibits transplanting of these into the uterus of an animal.
The team, led by by Hiromitsu Nakauchi of Tokyo University, wants to implant an embryo made from a fertilized pig egg and a special type of human stem cell called an “induced Pluripotent Stem cell” (iPS) into the uterus of a pig.
In 2012, Japanese biologist Shinya Yamanaka received a Nobel prize for his 2005-6 pioneering work in cell reprogramming that induced skin cells to revert to a younger cell state called ‘pluripotency’ called iPS cells) from which any cell type can be created. The technique does not require the destruction of an actual human embryo. This was welcome news for a new science that was being held back by various Bio-ethics concerns (beyond even destruction of the embryo).
This technique is at the heart of Nakauchi’s experiments.* [see note below] The team hopes that the iPS cell contained within the embryo will develop into a fully-functional and human compatible human organ (e.g., a kidney or liver or spleen) as part of the chimeric piglet fetus, as it also develops “normally.”
Speaking to the AFP, Nakauchi commented:
“We’ll see if the experiment goes well, but if we succeed in producing a human organ, the rest of the work toward practical use would be done within five years.”
Earlier this year, Nakauchi’s team successfully grew a white pig (that was engineered to not produce its own pancreas) to produce the pancreas of a black pig whose DNA was different from the white pig’s DNA
While some might find this manipulation of genomes disturbing or dangerous, Nakauchi does not see why it should viewed much differently from what we are already doing.
“Pigs have organs that are similar to human’s, in terms of both size and shape. In addition, we eat them on a daily basis”, he commented, “We have long used pigs in medicine, too. So they are thought to be acceptable to human bodies.”
Indeed, Nakauchi noted several examples: pig-grown insulin for diabetics and pig-grown pancreases and cardiac-valves have been successfully transplanted into humans.
However, there would be some strong religious objections to accepting organ transplants with organs grown in pigs.
But, these experiments — if successful — will represent a double advance: the creation of a viable animal embryo with a human iPS cell in it, and, the first time such organs will be grown in utero.
It is not clear if the new born piglet in the recently proposed experiments is intended to survive once the human organ has been “harvested”.
* NOTE: This technique, though a breakthrough and marvel of science, is imperfect; the procedure of implanting genes (long sequences of the nucleotide bases: A, T, C or G) creates “insertional defects” (like copy number variations) which can cause serious metabolic problems and diseases. However, as reported here on PS, a major advance in this discipline occurred in 2010 (Warren et al) with the invention of RNA-induced Pluripotent Stem cells (RiPS cells) which use RNA (instead of actual DNA) to induce the pluripotent (multi-potent) state (the RNA molecules are then rapidly degraded by the cell, leaving no trace).
It is not clear at this stage if the Japanese research team will be using the newest technique, or the older version, with the risks that entails.
Source material for this post came from June 18 Phys.org article: ‘Japan experts to OK animal-human embryos test: reports (Update) by Kyoko Hasegawa
This article first appeared @ Planet Save