A Forum for discussing emerging smart discoveries and emerging technologies with built-in intelligence or embedded smarts, as well as the new cognitive skills needed to succeed in the smart economy. The Smart Future is already here, just the last page hasn't been written yet! Every advance brings benefits as well as intrusions.
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Military action can dramatically increase the pool from which terrorists are recruited, according to a new computer model of the how radical behaviour spreads
The study of epidemics has flourished in recent years thanks to computer models that simulate the way infectious agents spread. Many of these models and the assumptions behind them have been validated with real data from the spread of disease. So there is a growing body of evidence showing that computer simulations are a valuable predictive tool that can help tackle and prevent epidemics.
But it's not just disease that spreads in this way. Various researchers are using the same ideas to model the spread of ideas and opinions. One interesting question is how radical and extreme ideas spread through society and what measures can be taken to control and prevent this process.
Today, we get a fascinating insight into this problem thanks to the work of Friedrich August at the Technical University of Berlin and a few buddies. Their approach is to divide society into a number of subgroups and then suppose that there is a certain probability that a member of one subgroup can switch to another. They then simulate how the size of these subgroups change over time and as the probabilities change.
That's standard fair until you start labelling the groups and imagining how they interact. August and co hypothesise that within any society there is a subgroup of people who are are actively radical, that is they practice extreme behaviour. They assume there is another subgroup of passive supporters who accept but do not practice extreme behaviour. And finally there is a third subgroup of neutral individuals who are susceptible to being converted into passive supporters.
A crucial question here is how to assign probabilities for switching from one group to another. One important process, say August and co, is the rate at which active radicals are removed from society by processes such as migration, deportation, arrest and death.
August and co assume that some of these removals have a radicalising effect on the susceptible group. For example, the arrest or murder of an active radical turns some neutrals into passive supporters.
When this happens a feedback loop is set up: the removal of active radicals generates more passive supporters from which more active radicals can be recruited and so on.
Feedback loops are interesting because they lead to nonlinear behaviour, where the ordinary intuitive rules of cause and effect no longer apply. So a small increase in one type of behaviour can lead to a massive increase in another. In the language of physics, a phase transition occurs.
Sure enough, that's exactly what happens in August and co's model. They show that for various parameters in their model, a small increase in the removal rate of active radicals generates a massive increase in passive supporters, providing an almost limitless pool from which to recruit more active radicals.
What this model describes, of course, is the cycle of violence that occurs in so many of the world's trouble spots.
That has profound implications for governments contemplating military intervention that is likely to cause 'collateral damage'. If you replace the term 'active radical' with 'terrorist' then a clear prediction of this model is that military intervention creates the conditions in which terrorism flourishes.
They say that this feedback loop can halted only if the removal of terrorists can be achieved without the attendant radicalising side effects. As August and co put it: "if this happened practically without casualties, fatalities, applying torture or committing terroristic acts against the local population."
This is an interesting approach. It clearly shows that public opinion and behaviour can change dramatically in ways that are difficult to predict.
But the work is by no means complete. These models and the phase changes they predict need to be studied in much more detail. For example, it's likely that certain types of extreme behaviour can drive away passive supporters so there may be important negative feedback effects that also need to be accounted for.
August and co are strident in their conclusions, however. They say that: "This strongly indicates that military solutions are inappropriate." It'll be interesting to see how their ideas spread.
Trend> Sign of Russian Bankruptcy? Or just plain old Embezzlement?
Military unit conscripts in Russian region not paid since January & military can't even pay phone bills.
Trends are made up of weak signals and emerging insights. Connecting these dots, and you may get a major driver or trend.
The military is Russia's key strategic resource, to which they will divert money from other social spheres to keep it running. This weak signal/insight that they can't afford to pay the phone bills and troops (both conscripts and officers) is a sign of a growing trend > pending soverign collapse. The last time we saw these similar circumstances was the the late 1980's, before the Russian soverign debt crisis in the old Soviet Union and before its ultimate collapse--Walter Derzko
Military unit conscripts in Russian region not paid since January - paper Anonymous. BBC Monitoring Former Soviet Union. London: Jul 11, 2010. Novaya Gazeta website, Moscow, in Russian 7 Jul 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC
Text of report by Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta's website, often critical of the government, on 7 July
[Article by military commentator Vyacheslav Ismailov: "The Army and Poverty"]
For six months the servicemen of our Russian military unit have been living, serving, and working without receiving money
A letter has arrived at Novaya Gazeta addressed to me (the [return] address on the envelope is Vologda Oblast, Babayevskiy Rayon, postal department Zapolye, military unit 87256). The letter is from a group of army conscripts.
The soldiers complain that at the end of June they are to be discharged from the Army, but they have not received their monetary allowance since January. Moreover, the letter says: "We appealed to the courts and won our case, but no measures were taken."
The gist of the matter is: For six months the servicemen of our Russian military unit have been living, serving, and working without receiving money
I call the General Staff Organizational and Mobilizational Directorate - it is responsible for army conscription, and is even discussing in the Federal Assembly the question of extending the draft until August and increasing the call-up age to 30 years. That is to say, the situation with the draft is such that we do not have enough kids aged between 18 and 27, and if guys aged 30 join the Army, that will be just perfect.
I phone the Defence Ministry press service. The person on duty invites me to redial to the Main Directorate of Educational Work. I phone there. They tell me: "We do not handle this."
I phone Zapolye postal department, which is in Vologda Oblast's Babayevskiy Rayon. The local employee keeps no secrets from me: "We do have a military unit no.87256, but you will not be able to phone there, the unit has been completely cut off for nonpayment of telephone services. And the soldiers have indeed not been paid for six months."
The mail worker (the world is not without good people) gives me the mobile telephone number of one of the servicemen. The latter confirms: Conscripts were indeed discharged at the end of June, without having received a kopeck for the past six months, and officers are receiving only part of their monetary allowance.
All the officers whom I contacted one after the other confirmed: Discharged conscripted servicemen have simply not been paid their monetary allowance, and officers are receiving at best only half their monetary allowance. They went to court. They won their case, but nothing has changed.
Officers scraped together from their own empty pockets money for travel and food for the discharged soldiers.
I do not give the names of the officers with whom I spoke so as not to get them into trouble. As though things were not bad enough already...
Credit: Novaya Gazeta website, Moscow, in Russian 7 Jul 10
When the global economy couldn't be pulled out of the Great Depression after a decade of backsliding in the 1930's, the world turned its attention to war and the military industrial economy/ war machine to drive the economy and productivity. Sewing plants were turned into uniform production. Auto plants started to manufacture tanks.
Is this the start of some new regional conflict or something more sinister and global? Why is Moscow going on full war alert or as they call it- "permanent-readiness". As a protest and countermove to planned American ABM in Poland or for some other reason?
[N.B. one analyst friend in Europe claims: "They are intended for internal use within the Russian Federation and its sphere of influence, should the states within the sphere call for help."--Walter Derzko]
All Russian air defence regiments are "permanent-readiness" units - says Russian general Maj-Gen Sergey Popov, head of the Russian Air Forces' Air Defence Troops, has said that all the regiments subordinated to him have been transformed into "permanent-readiness" units. Popov was speaking on Sergey Buntman's "Military Council" programme on Ekho Moskvy radio on 3 July.
"Absolutely all regiments have been made permanent-readiness category" units, meaning that they are on "alert duty" and can begin "the implementation of a combat task within an hour" of receiving their orders, he said.
Full text from Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian 0810 3 Jul 10/BBC Monitoring/(c) BBC
Maj-Gen Sergey Popov, head of the Russian Air Forces' Air Defence Troops, has said that all the regiments subordinated to him have been transformed into "permanent-readiness" units. Popov was speaking on Sergey Buntman's "Military Council" programme on Ekho Moskvy radio on 3 July.
"Absolutely all regiments have been made permanent-readiness category" units, meaning that they are on "alert duty" and can begin "the implementation of a combat task within an hour" of receiving their orders, he said.
Popov also said that all the "first-ring" air defence regiments deployed around Moscow have been put on "alert duty" as part of the transition to new-look armed forces.
He said: "We have thus improved the efficiency from the point of view of [the speed of] reaction to enemy action. We can shift as quickly as possible to being ready to open fire. Planned replacement of systems with new ones is under way. S-400 is being supplied actively. Another regiment will get hardware in the near future, in a month or two. This process has become very routine. We shall be ready to receive hardware and deploy it for duty."
Discussing training he said: "This year, on the orders from the commander-in-chief and the head of the Main Staff of the Air Force, I drew up a directive and we obliged all regiments to fire on at least four targets entering their zone simultaneously, within no more than 60 seconds of each other."
He said that "all the units" did well during the spring training, with an "average efficiency of 82 per cent". Armavir MVU, Strizh, Kaban and Reys target missiles were used.
In addition, he said that Yaroslavl Air Defence College students shot down four Kaban target missiles in April.
In training, air defence troops simulate attacks similar to the bombings of Yugoslavia and Iraq, he said.
Both US president elect Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper have promised "New Deal" like infrastructure programs for the USA and Canada to spend their way out of a depression / recession (pick one). A new term is needed to describe this type of new intelligence-infused infrastructure. I call it the cognistructure-an infrastructure that thinks for itself.
Here's my list of top 10 smart technologies that both Olbama and Harper should have their eye on and on their planning radar screens; (Niche applications 10-6, more ubiquitous applications 5-1)
9. Smart sensors in bridges, levees, roads, buildings, vehicles, satellites etc (smart dust) to provide a dynamic sense and respond environment- eco cities-earth with a fast track nervous system
8. Move toward the electrification of transportation (GM, Ford, Chysler shifts production to electric cars and trucks)and smart road networks (ie smart retractable speed bumps, movable road mediums that adjust to traffic flow and congestion)
7.Biomimicry -- designing systems, objects and surfaces based on natural biological models
6. Smart "emergent and self-organizing" traffic congestion systems that deal with natural complexity in unconventional ways
5.Infrastructure / congnistructure for Smart cities, that address and enforce "system resilience" and mitigates the consequences future potential catastrophies (climate change, severe weather, man-made disasters, riots, etc)
4.Modermizing the electrical grid to accept consumer and commercial inputs from alternate energy and reducing power loss during distribution ( via super conductors and nanowires)
3.Adoption of smart alternate energy technologies (wind, water and sun) that approach price parity with gas, coal, nuclear and electricity. Move toward distributed and diversified energy production vs centralised energy production.
A while back when I was at the Idea Lab at the Design Exchange, I remember sitting over a coffee and exploring a thought exercise with some clients.
The question under debate was: What are the generic elements or activities that would accelerate any new technology platform, (such as smart technologies) and overcome the initial market interia. Simply put, Is there a generic technology evolution matrix?
One was having cartoonists make fun of your technology ( No, smart technologies aren't on Dilbert's radar screen yet, but any day now I hope) Another key event would be to have some influential CEO highlight the benefits of your technology in a milestone keynote speech (act as a complimentor-in business strategy terms. )
Well for smart technologies, that breakthrough event may have happened this month on November 6th, when IBM’s CEO, Sam Palmisano, outlined a new agenda for building a smarter planet - during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relation. (hat tip to Adam Christensen at IBM HQ)
From IBM's blog:
"In the speech, he outlines a number of the challenges faced today by people, governments, businesses and organizations. A lack of clean water for a fifth of the world’s population. Energy systems that waste more energy than they produce. Traffic in our cities that clogs roads and chokes economic growth.
Clearly there are no simple solutions for these problems.
Technology can play a big role in helping find answers to these problems. While the Internet currently connects more than a billion people, in just a few years, it will connect more than a trillion objects. Everything from cell phones, cars, roads, buildings, and even objects in nature itself, will have embedded technology and be connected to one another, enabling tremendous advances in how we understand how the world works and make smarter decisions to make it work better.
But technology is just part of the solution. Without the people, policies and culture to inspire and execute the change, nothing ultimately gets done."
From Sam’s speech:
[...] These collective realizations have reminded us that we are all now connected—economically, technically and socially. But we're also learning that being connected is not sufficient. Yes, the world continues to get "flatter." And yes, it continues to get smaller and more interconnected. But something is happening that holds even greater potential. In a word, our planet is becomingsmarter.
This isn't just a metaphor.I mean infusing intelligence into the way the world literally works—the systems and processes that enable physical goods to be developed, manufactured, bought and sold… services to be delivered… everything from people and money to oil, water and electrons to move… and billions of people to work and live.
What's making this possible?
First, our world is becoming instrumented: The transistor, invented 60 years ago, is the basic building block of the digital age. Now, consider a world in which there are a billion transistors per human, each one costing one ten-millionth of a cent. We'll have that by 2010. There will likely be 4 billion mobile phone subscribers by the end of this year… and 30 billion Radio Frequency Identification tags produced globally within two years. Sensors are being embedded across entire ecosystems—supply-chains, healthcare networks, cities… even natural systems like rivers.
Second, our world is becoming interconnected: Very soon there will be 2 billion people on the Internet. But in an instrumented world, systems and objects can now "speak" to one another, too. Think about the prospect of a trillion connected and intelligent things—cars, appliances, cameras, roadways, pipelines… even pharmaceuticals and livestock. The amount of information produced by the interaction of all those things will be unprecedented.
Third, all things are becoming intelligent: New computing models can handle the proliferation of end-user devices, sensors and actuators and connect them with back-end systems. Combined with advanced analytics, those supercomputers can turn mountains of data into intelligence that can be translated into action, making our systems, processes and infrastructures more efficient, more productive and responsive—in a word, smarter.
What this means is that the digital and physical infrastructures of the world are converging. Computational power is being put into things we wouldn't recognize as computers. Indeed, almost anything—any person, any object, any process or any service, for any organization, large or small—can become digitally aware and networked.
With so much technology and networking abundantly available at such low cost, what wouldn't you enhance? What service wouldn't you provide a customer, citizen, student or patient? What wouldn't you connect? What information wouldn't you mine for insight?
The answer is, you or your competitor—another company, or another city or nation—will do all of that. You will do it because you can—the technology is available and affordable.
But there is another reason we will make our companies, institutions and industries smarter. Because we must. Not just at moments of widespread shock, but integrated into our day-to-day operations. These mundane processes of business, government and life—which are ultimately the source of those "surprising" crises—are not smart enough to be sustainable.
Leaders will need to hone their collaboration skills, because we will need leadership that pulls across systems. We will need to bring together stakeholders and experts from across business, government and academia, and all of them will need to move outside their traditional comfort zones.
I’m struck by the questions this raises. What investments need to be made by both public and private institutions? What policy issues need to be debated and resolved? What role can individual citizens and employees play in helping bring about meaningful change?
I’m also struck by the potential opportunities inherent in finding solutions to these problems.
Scientists have developed a new search engine called Infovell geared at helping researchers find often obscure data in the deep Web -- a vast body of public and subscription-based information comprising 99.8 percent of the Internet that traditional search engines cantaccess.
According to a study by the
, traditional search engines such as Google and Yahoo index only about 0.2% of the Internet. The remaining 99.8%, known as the "deep Web," is a vast body of public and subscription-based information that traditional search engines can't access research search engine finds deep Web pages that Google and Yahoo miss. I registered for the free on month trial beta version which goes live Sept 22, 2008
Subject: re Smart Sustainability ShowCase for Toronto and Canada.
I’d like to plant an idea with you – after speaking with a number of designers and vendors, I’m exploring the idea for a sustainability showcase that would feature theme based exhibits with smart technologies from Canadian and international sources-the best from Ontario, nationally and from around the world.
The launch would be 2010, The timing for this seems right. The target audience would be Canadian business, consumers and school children
I’m writing a book on smart technologies and this would be a logical extension of the concept.
Two years ago I talked to Samantha Sannella and Poala Polletto at the Design Exchange (DX) in Toronto and with several people at the Ont Science Center. Both groups expressed interest but said that we would need to find sponsors for the project
My business model for this would be three pronged -vendor based revenue, corporate based sponsor revenue and municipality based sponsorship ie city of Toronto or Mississauga and possibly the province of Ontario who may wish to promote sustainable manufacturing.
This concept would be a Canadian, in fact a North American first.
I have a list of 150 potential vendors, and designers from around the world who are working on smart technologies that we can start to approach.
The exhibits would be theme based, --the sustainable kitchen, the sustainable office, the sustainable retail shelf, the sustainable workspace, the sustainable community, the sustainable city etc and would be updated with new technologies every 3-5 years and have a 1-5 year forward focus. (what's commercially available now or in the very near future.
For other exhibits, there can be a regional or national focus ie smart sustainable technology from the UK, Finland, Germany (Fraunhofer Inst), China, Ukraine, Russia, or Singapore, Hong Kong etc
Corporate sponsors might include: Walmart, Rona, Home Deport, Canadian Tire, Loblaws, Sears, Imperial Oil, the banks (RBC, TD, RBC BMO) etc.
The Sustainability Showcase could be housed in a physical location, or it could tour from location to location around the city or province or be mobile ( on a bus the way the Japanese and Korean do- a display bus turned into a demo center that tours from school to school or to fairs and exhibitions.
OCAD students and staff and Beal senior fellows could play a hand in designing exhibit spaces and sourcing new vendors and sustainable technologies.
Several other revenue opportunities could spin off from this as well
Here’s just a few examples of what can be showcased
For anyone who is interested in exploring the idea of a Smart Sustainability Showcase for Toronto, we are having a meeting on Tuesday July 22 at 11 am at the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD), Beal Institute for Strategic Creativity, room 600, 6th floor , 100 McCaul St, Toronto just south of the Ont Art Gallery.
Please RSVP, so we know how many people are coming
I have had some positive feedback from several organizations, & I’d like to push the concept forward
I'm sending this nationally and internationally in case you are aware of any designers, vendors, manufacturers or research centers who have interesting cutting edge smart sustainable technology to showcase.
Expert, Consultant, Keynote Speaker and Lecturer on Emerging Smart Technologies, Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Strategic Foresight, Business Development, Lateral Creative Thinking and author of an upcoming book on the Smart Economy
The Smart Technology Blog: The Smart Economy -- Read, enjoy, explore, speculate, comment !!
To arrange for an in house presentation or briefing on smart technologysee here
Old churches and other ancient buildings often have hidden murals beneath coats of plaster or paint, which you can’t see or detect easily
Just L-like X-rays that let doctors see the bones beneath our skin, "T-rays" could let art historians see murals hidden beneath coats of plaster or paint in centuries-old buildings, University of Michigan engineering researchers say.
T-rays, pulses of terahertz radiation, could also illuminate penciled sketches under paintings on canvas without harming the artwork, the researchers say. Current methods of imaging underdrawings can't detect certain art materials such as graphite or sanguine, a red chalk that some of the masters are believed to have used.
The device is a hybrid between electronics and lasers, developed by the Ann-Arbor based company Picometrix. It's called the T-Ray™ system, and it uses pulses from an ultra-fast laser to excite a semiconductor antenna, which in turn emits pulses of terahertz radiation.
"The rays permeate the plaster, and some reflect back when there is a change in the material. When they bounce back and how much energy they retain depends on the material they hit. Different colors of paint, or the presence of graphite, for example, cause tell-tale differences in the amount of energy in the returning waves. A receiver measures this energy, and the scientists can use the data to produce an image of what lies beneath, explained scientists."
A similar device made by Picometrix is used routinely to examine the foam on the space shuttle's fuel tanks for underlying damage.
Back to the USSR?.....The Village Voice reports this week on a proposal that is being considered by New York City officials to have all environmental monitoring devices registered by the police.
"Richard Falkenrath, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for counterterrorism and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have asked the City Council to pass a law requiring anyone who wants to own a sensor that detects biological, chemical, and radiological hazards needs to get a permit from the police first. "
Last week, Falkenrath made his case for the new law before the City Council's Public Safety Committee, saying that unless police can determine who gets to look for hazards floating in the air, the city would be paralyzed by fear....(any evidence of this so far ? makes you wonder what NYC has to hide?)
"There are currently no guidelines regulating the private acquisition of biological, chemical, and radiological detectors," warned Falkenrath, adding that this law was suggested by officials within the Department of Homeland Security. "There are no consistent standards for the type of detectors used, no requirement that they be reported to the police department—or anyone else, for that matter—and no mechanism for coordinating these devices. . . . Our mutual goal is to prevent false alarms . . . By making sure we know where these detectors are located, and that they conform to standards of quality and reliability."
Given how important environmental sensors are to all kinds of scientific research, as well as environmental activism (e.g., monitoring of pollutants in low-income neighborhoods), this seems like a pretty extreme move.
"Futurists regularly talk about the potential for cheap environmental sensors to serve as tools for sustainable development, more efficient energy use, etc.; I'm not sure how many of us (or how many computer scientists, ecologists, and others) ever thought that it would make sense to have the police "know where these detectors are located, and that they conform to standards of quality and reliability," any more than they would have a compelling interest in making sure all clocks and watches were accurately set."
Academic scientists and researchers are all in shock ! Is the Department of Homeland Security going too far?
So the lesson here is...get your sensors now, while they are freely available.
Here's are rare opportunity to find out what went on in the secret corridors of the CIA during the Cold War......The Arlington Institute (TAI) Presents.....The Government’s Investigation of “Psychic Spying” ; 1Feb 2008; Berkeley Springs High School Auditorium ;149 Concord Ave Berkeley Springs, WV 25411
The Arlington Institute is pleased to announce the fifth lecture in its TAI PRESENTS series related to different aspects of big global change. We are honored that one of the most innovative minds in physics, Dr. Harold Puthoff, will join us on February 1st at 7:00pm for a public presentation on one of the US government’s most highly classified – and interesting – intelligence operations.
In the spring of 1972, Dr. Puthoff was approached by the CIA to set up a program to investigate “ESP” to determine whether there was a credible “psychic spy” threat to the U.S. from a known large-scale effort being pursued in the then Soviet Union. As a result he founded the SRI “remote viewing” program to use intuitives to access intelligence information where no other sources were available. He acted as its Director over the next two decades to both serve a number of clients in the Department of Defense/Intelligence community, and to generate a dense data base for scientific evaluation. Out of this work emerged some of the first papers on the remote viewing subject to be published in both intelligence community journals and in mainstream scientific journals such as Nature and the Proceedings of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). Previously classified files of the work carried out under codeword project names SCANATE, SUN STREAK, CENTER LANE, GRILL FLAME and STAR GATE have recently been released (~90,000 pages) in CD format by the CIA FOIA office and by the National Archives (NARA).
In his multimedia lecture, Dr. Puthoff will discuss the results obtained in the program, and their operational implications and scientific significance.