Pentagon’s Plan X: how it could change cyberwarfare – CSMonitor.com

“The same Pentagon futurologists who helped create the Internet are about to begin a new era of cyberwarfare.
For years, the Pentagon has been open and adamant about the nation’s need to defend itself against cyberattack, but its ability and desire to attack enemies with cyberweapons has been cloaked in mystery.

Next week, however, the Pentagon’s Defense Advance Research Products Agency (DARPA) will launch Plan X – an effort to improve the offensive cyberwarfare capabilities “needed to dominate the cyber battlespace,” according to an announcement for the workshop.”

It gives a strange feeling, reading this, not because I’m surprised about the importance of these issues, but because I’m reading Howard Rheingold’s Tools for Thought about the history of ‘mind amplifying machines’ as computers are being called. It’s pretty obvious how major breakthroughs became possible in the context of the Second World War and the Cold War. 

Will this new cycle in research and financing lead to more mind-amplifying stuff, or to mayhem and horror? 
via Diigo http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2012/1012/Pentagon-s-Plan-X-how-it-could-change-cyberwarfare

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In search of… metacognition amplifiers

I’m gearing up for Howard Rheingold’s course about Think-Know Tools and so I read his latest book, Mind Amplifier.
I’m starting to become a bit of a veteran in Rheingold courses, so I was not surprised to read about the notion of literacies, of designs for improved collective action and about metacognition. However, there were some parts which seem to indicate new developments.
I’ll give some quotes to illustrate this:

What if automated tutoring and testing systems, such as those being deployed for Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), could be used for self-reflection on the learning process – a metacognition amplifier?

In his book Net Smart explains that metacognition is the function which helps us think about our thinking – it’s an important element helping us to gain control of our lives online.
Rheingold is not ‘only’ the guy who was the first to use the words ‘virtual community’. He has a deep interest in the history of computing, for instance his book Tools for Thought (text available online) is about the history of computers which he considers as being mind-amplifying technology.
Reading the old texts of the visionaries makes it obvious that there is a lot which has not yet been realized. Rheingold:

It’s time to consider what technology we want to create using the autocatalysis of human pattern recognition, human-machine abstraction, and computer graphics modeling capabilities.

Of course there is a very fundamental social dimension to all this. A last quote reflecting his thoughts about this:

When the human aptitude for mind-extension is plugged into specially designed computational mind-amplifiers and joined to one another through the many-to-many capabilities of networked media, new forms of social cognition begin to flourish.

One could imagine many ambitious research programs about all this. I’ll post about our proceedings during the course, which will start the next week.

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Vision | Fluid Interfaces

“Our group designs new interfaces that integrate digital content in people’s lives in more fluid and seamless ways. Our aim is to make it easier and more intuitive to benefit from the wealth of useful digital information and services. ”

Pattie Maes and her group at MIT, lots of fascinating projects here, often making me think ‘why isn’t this ubiquitous right now already?’ One of the reasons might be ‘the economy, stupid’ – like the idea of being able to swipe a file from one mobile app to another, seamlessly. 

But eventually we’ll get there. The future is fluid. 

via Diigo http://fluid.media.mit.edu/vision.html

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Kurzweil: Brains will extend to the cloud – Computerworld

“Human brains will someday extend into the cloud, futurist and computer pioneer Ray Kurzweil predicted at the DEMO conference here on Tuesday.

Moreover, he said, it will become possible to selectively erase pieces of our memories, while retaining some portions of them, to be able to learn new things no matter how old the person is.”

Of course, it’s all about AI and augmented reality, leading right up to our having an augmented brain. Which, in a sense, we have for so long already – at least since we invented writing. But okay, in many ways we’re re-inventing writing. 

You’ll find the video at Computerworld. 

via Diigo http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9231982/Kurzweil_Brains_will_extend_to_the_cloud

Read also: ‘this is my cybernetic organism, the internet’

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The Global Arbitrage of Online Work – NYTimes.com

“Not all those young companies will survive, but the habit of hiring online seems baked in; 64 percent of respondents said at least half of their work force would be online by 2015, and 94 percent predicted that in 10 years most businesses would consist of online temps and physical full-time workers.”

One more thing: it seems that the educational degree is not considered as being ‘very important’ when hiring online help. Quentin Hardy (Bits, The New York Times) concludes ‘In the future, having a degree may be helpful, but having a reputation will be even better.’

Taking this one step further, online rating systems such as Klout (not necessarily Klout itself) could become a very important part of your social capital. Of course, such reputation measures could be organized by the major online staffing companies –  like eBay for instance uses its famous reputation system. 

Reputation as social capital will translate this way into financial capital – and could be a crucial data point for financial companies which could use these data to decide about your creditworthiness…
via Diigo http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/10/the-global-arbitrage-of-online-work/

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The New Industrial Revolution – the New Satanic Mills?

So I’m reading Cory Doctorow’s Makers, but there is also that other Makers book – inspired by Doctorow – in which Chris Anderson tells us about a New Industrial Revolution. Here is a video posted on TechCrunch.

What we’re seeing here with the third industrial revolution is the combination of technology and manufacturing, so Anderson explains. “It’s the computer meets manufacturing, and it’s at everybody’s desktop.”
But then again, being a slightly pessimistic European, there’s also the dark side: rapid prototyping, smooth international collaboration by individuals on what formerly needed impressive institutions also facilitates the production of weapons of mass destruction. The classical Industrial Revolution got a rather bad press (the ‘Satanic Mills’) – but the bio- and hardware hacking labs could churn out another kind of satanic stuff. The empowerment of the individual is not necessarily a story with a happy ending – but then again, we don’t have any choice but try to deal with it, to grasp the opportunities and avoid the horror.

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Do you believe in the Exodus Recession?

” Since 1800, technological advance has been associated with economic growth. The new stuff being built saved labor input, which was then put into the construction of other things. However, the most recent technological advances may not be growth-inducing. As Samuelson puts it, “Gordon sees the Internet, smartphones and tablets as tilted toward entertainment, not labor-saving.””

Professor Edward Castronova, who once wrote a book about the exodus to virtual worlds, sees some more evidence of an exodus recession. 

He’s not just talking about virtual worlds however, but also about your average digital stuff such as tablets and smartphones. It makes us want less ‘real’ things and so it makes it harder for the economy to grow. One might say, let’s measure growth in a different way, taking into account this digital shift. But then again, our social security for instance depends on the economy and the money which is actually earned there. 

So will we all hide into virtual worlds to forget the misery of the recession-ridden ‘real world’? Or is this speculation very wrong, as the digital evolution is now affecting the ‘world of the atoms’ in a radical way (think 3D printers, hardware and bio-hacking). 
via Diigo http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2012/10/more-on-the-exodus-recession-technology-entertainment-and-our-economic-doldrums.html

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There comes yet another DJ journalist

“‘If it’s not talking to each other, it’s not a market.’ Europe, despite being a political union (of sorts), does not yet feel like a real market. Part of the solution would be to know more about each other, and to talk to each other more often. That’s what ‘Whiteboard’ wants to offer: a place to find information about interesting businesses and innovation, and to talk about it.”

So yet another DJ journalist, as professor Mark Deuze would say. Raf Weverbergh left the Flemish magazine Humo and started his own venture, Whiteboard. 

He won’t be the one who is on stage all the time creating his very own content, but rather he invites contributors to talk about entrepreneurship in Europe. Which seems like a great idea, as Europe is not just that doom and gloom continent – but it needs media ventures to talk about its entrepreneurs and to facilitate the conversation between entrepreneurs. So I cannot wait to hear a thousand (or more) entrepreneurial voices on Whiteboard reporting about exciting new things in Europe! 
via Diigo http://www.whiteboardmag.com/platform-european-entrepreneurs-innovation/

Read also:
The deconstructed journalist
How the truth unfolds itself – Hermida about new media
Journalists would be more cheerful being DJs

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MRUniversity: it’s not a massive open online course, but it could be used to create one

Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, two economics professors at George Mason University, launch Marginal Revolution University. They’ll deliver free, interactive courses in the economics space, so I read on Open Culture.
Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok run the blog Marginal Revolution. Some years ago, Cowen also was a guest at the Metanomics-show in Second Life.
Users are invited to submit content. The professors don’t call their courses a MOOC, but “it can be used to create a MOOC, namely a massive, open on-line course.”

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A gamification course which also teaches ethics

The Gamification course on Coursera, by associate professor Kevin Werbach (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania), has ended. The course got 80,000 registrations and it is expected it will run again in the future. It was a very interesting experience, making me think about using gamification in the news media. In fact, we already use game elements in the media, but there is so much more which could be done.

Professor Werbach is about to publish the book For The Win: How Game Thinking Can Revolutionize Your Business. Okay, the title sounds very hype-like, but having participated in the course I can testify that Werbach is not advocating simple, manipulative techniques to be applied in whatever context. On the contrary, we learned how crucial it is to analyze the situation and to think hard about the objectives and the impact gamification can have on people and how important self-determination is.

I guess most of us watched the 2010 presentation by Jesse Schell:

However, there was another video we had to watch (and which was used extensively for the ‘final exam’), the futuristic film Sight by Eran May-raz and Daniel Lazo:

The video choice was illustrative for the ethical preoccupations of the course.

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