As the Federal Communications Commission nears a fateful decision on network neutrality, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Y2K all over again.
You may remember Dec. 31, 1999. That’s the last time the Internet was expected to die, because millions of computers were going to crash when their internal clocks failed to turn over to the year 2000. I sat in the Globe’s newsroom, waiting for the end. Nothing happened. It was quite a letdown.
Now here comes another “apocalypse.” On Dec 14, the FCC is expected to abandon the Obama administration’s policy on so-called Net neutrality, in which the government forces Internet providers to treat all data equally. Activists say it’s the end of the Internet as we know it, with giant Internet providers like Comcast and AT&T free to block or slow down access to key online services unless they’re paid extra to let the data flow.
But I’m betting hardly anything will change. Not the day after Dec. 14, the month after, or the year after.
I’m as subject to panic as the next guy, but I can’t see much reason to freak out over the supposed death of Net neutrality.
I’m on board with the principle that Internet carriers should not be allowed to block certain Internet services or deliberately slow them down to make them less accessible. Many activists go further and reject “paid prioritization,” or giving superior “fast lane” service to consumers willing to pay extra.
Serious breaches of Net neutrality are pretty hard to find. An activist group called Free Press published a “greatest hits” list of alleged violations. They found 12. Oops . . . make that 10. In two decades of widespread Internet use in America, they couldn’t find even a dozen significant violations, so Free Press padded the list with two cases from outside the United States. Even the remaining 10 are questionable cases that may have been driven by network security or traffic management disputes, rather than by efforts to stamp out rivals.
Still, the Net neutrality lobby, which includes massive users of Internet services such as Google and Netflix, wanted tougher regulatory protection. They got it in 2015, when the FCC decided to regulate the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.
Some called it a life preserver for Internet freedom; I call it regulatory overkill on a massive scale. Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a staunch supporter of the Title II approach, warned in 2015 that a portion of the plan “sounds like a recipe for overreach and confusion.” Read the rest of this entry »
New technologies have disrupted news media over the past 20 years — but one report says that’s just the beginning.
Washington (AFP) – If you think technology has shaken up the news media — just wait, you haven’t seen anything yet.
The next wave of disruption is likely to be even more profound, according to a study presented Saturday to the Online News Association annual meeting in Washington.
News organizations which have struggled in the past two decades as readers moved online and to mobile devices will soon need to adapt to artificial intelligence, augmented reality and automated journalism and find ways to connect beyond the smartphone, the report said.
“Voice interface” will be one of the big challenges for media organizations, said the report by Amy Webb, a New York University Stern School of Business faculty member and Founder of the Future Today Institute.
The institute estimates that 50 percent of interactions that consumers have with computers will be using their voices by 2023.
“Once we are speaking to our machines about the news, what does the business model for journalism look like?” the report said.
“News organizations are ceding this future ecosystem to outside corporations. They will lose the ability to provide anything but content.”
Webb writes that most news organizations have done little experimentation with chat apps and voice skills on Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, the likes of which may be key parts of the future news ecosystem.
Because of this, she argues that artificial intelligence or AI is posing “an existential threat to the future of journalism.”
“Journalism itself is not actively participating in building the AI ecosystem,” she wrote.
One big problem facing media organizations is that new technologies impacting the future of news such as AI are out of their control, and instead is in the hands of tech firms like Google, Amazon, Tencent, Baidu, IBM, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft, according to Webb.
“News organizations are customers, not significant contributors,” the report said. Read the rest of this entry »
Great website focusing on the design and history of pocket transistor radios manufactured between 1954 and 1965.
Source: ROCKET RADIO MG-306
The Defense Department still uses 8-inch floppy disks and computers from the 1970s to coordinate nuclear forcesPosted: April 3, 2017
Mackenzie Eaglen writes: Dale Hayden, a senior researcher at the Air Force’s Air University, told an audience of aerospace experts earlier this month that proliferation of antisatellite technology has put America’s communications networks at risk. “In a conflict, it will be impossible to defend all of the space assets in totality,” he said. “Losses must be expected.”
It has never been easier for America’s adversaries—principally Russia and China, but also independent nonstate actors—to degrade the U.S. military’s ability to fight and communicate. Senior military officials have expressed grave doubts about the security of the Pentagon’s information systems and America’s ability to protect the wider commercial virtual infrastructure.
The U.S. Navy, under its mission to keep the global commons free, prevents tampering with undersea cables. But accidents—and worse—do happen. Last year a ship’s anchor severed a cable in the English Channel, slowing internet service on the island of Jersey. In 2013 the Egyptian coast guard arrested three scuba divers trying to cut a cable carrying a third of the internet traffic between Europe and Egypt. “When communications networks go down, the financial services sector does not grind to a halt, rather it snaps to a halt,” warned a senior staffer to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in 2009. Trillions of dollars in daily trading depends on GPS, which is kept free by the Air Force.
There are now an estimated 17.6 billion devices around the world connected to the internet, including more than six billion smartphones. The tech industry expects those numbers to double by 2020. That growth is dependent, however, on secure and reliable access to intercontinental undersea fiber-optic cables, which carry 99% of global internet traffic, and a range of satellite services.
The U.S. military is working on ways of making them more resilient. For instance, the Tactical Undersea Network Architectures program promises rapidly deployable, lightweight fiber-optic backup cables, and autonomous undersea vehicles could soon be used to monitor and repair cables. In space, the military is leading the way with advanced repair satellites as well as new and experimental GPS satellites, which will enhance both military and civilian signals. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Toshiba’s Communication Robot Chihira Aico’s Debut as a Receptionist Impresses Department Store CustomersPosted: May 14, 2015
“Humanoid robot capable of expressing various feeling.”
According to RocketNews24, Toshiba has plans to expand its robotics business outside of customer service and into healthcare, especially as companions for Japan’s aging population. Read the rest of this entry »
The human self has five components. Machines now have three of them. How far away is artificial consciousness – and what does it tell us about ourselves?
— Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) February 11, 2015
The Innovation 15: Our Most Science- and Tech-Friendly Members of Congress
So maybe things aren’t that great. The 113th Congress of the United States is on track to enact just 251 laws in its two-year session, the least productive Congress since 1973. If a bill attempts to do anything more than rename a post office, it’s likely to languish in committee, ignored, while lawmakers sling partisan dung over budgets and borders. Not a great environment for innovation-minded legislation trying to become law. But it’s midterm- election time in America, and 33 Senate seats and every seat in the House of Representatives are up for grabs. Read the rest of this entry »
— Gizmodo (@Gizmodo) August 28, 2014
There’s been a lot of discussion and a tremendous amount of speculation lately about the nature of drones and their role in our society as useful tools and hobbyist toys.
Last year, while celebrating my birthday in Maine, I was given a drone fitted with a high-definition camera. After a quick introduction to the mechanics of operating the contraption and a few words about its idiosyncrasies, I loaded the appropriate app on my iPad and went down to the beach.
In just a few minutes I was hooked. In near silence, the drone rose, hovered, and dove, silently and surreptitiously photographing us and the landscape around us. The photos and video were stunning. By assuming unusual vantage points, the drone allowed me to “see” so much more of my surroundings than usual. The view I was “seeing” on my iPad with the help of the drone would have otherwise been…
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A photo through two floating water droplets
— NASA (@NASA) June 29, 2014
— NASA (@NASA) June 5, 2014
— NASA (@NASA) June 3, 2014
The Yomiuri Shimbun: The science and technology ministry will pursue manned Japanese exploration of Mars through international cooperation as part of the nation’s space program, ministry sources said.
It is the first time the government has incorporated Martian exploration into the country’s space program, according to the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry.
The plan was submitted to a panel of experts run by the ministry to discuss space program-related issues, including international space exploration following the end of the International Space Station operation. It will be finalized as early as next month and reported to the government’s Committee on the National Space Policy.
According to the ministry draft, the government will gradually advance the plan, which includes unmanned exploration and long-term settlement on the moon. Read the rest of this entry »
— NASA (@NASA) June 2, 2014
— NASA (@NASA) May 30, 2014
Caked in red silt, NASA’s Curiosity rover looks like it’s been trekking through a Martian dust storm in this latest interactive panorama. But nothing can tarnish the joy of seeing this incredible machine hard at work on another planet.
The dust-covered robot is currently preparing for its third drilling operation on Mars, at a site nicknamed the Kimberley. In recent days, engineers have inspected and scrubbed the dust from a spot on a rock they named “Windjana,” after a gorge in Western Australia. (Too bad the rover can’t turn its wire bristle dust removal tool on itself.) Curiosity has already done preparatory drill work and will soon sample some of Windjana’s interior. The rover will run this sample through a series of tests to give scientists a better understanding of the history of water in this area...(read more)
Kennedy Space Center, Saturn V propellers
David Rotman writes: Given his calm and reasoned academic demeanor, it is easy to miss just how provocative Erik Brynjolfsson’s contention really is. Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee have been arguing for the last year and a half that impressive advances in computer technology—from improved industrial robotics to automated translation services—are largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years. Even more ominous for workers, the MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.
Economic theory and government policy will have to be rethought if technology is indeed destroying jobs faster than it is creating new ones.
That robots, automation, and software can replace people might seem obvious to anyone who’s worked in automotive manufacturing or as a travel agent. But Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s claim is more troubling and controversial. They believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States. And, they suspect, something similar is happening in other technologically advanced countries.
Patents and copyrights are government monopoly grants with nothing in common with the notion of property at the heart of libertarianism.
Sheldon Richman writes: The modern libertarian case against so-called intellectual property (IP) has been building steadily since the late 1980s, when I first encountered it. Since then, an impressive volume of work has been produced from many perspectives: economics, political economy, sociology, moral and political philosophy, history, and no doubt more. It is indeed a case to be reckoned with. (Roderick Long has put together a web page with links to some of the best anti-IP material written over the last quarter century. My own contributions include “Patent Nonsense,” “Intellectual ‘Property’ Versus Real Property” and “Slave Labor and Intellectual Property.” A brief spontaneous debate that I participated in is here.)
I won’t try to recap the whole case here, but I do want to answer a question that will occur to many advocates of liberty: How can someone who supports property rights in physical objects deny property rights in intellectual products, such as the useful application of scientific principles or patterns of words, musical tones, or colors? Suffice it here to quote from “Patent Nonsense”:
There is a distinction between physical objects and ideas that is crucial to the property question. Two or more people cannot use the same pair of socks at the same time and in the same respect, but they can use the same idea — or if not the same idea, ideas with the same content. That tangible objects are scarce and finite accounts for the emergence of property rights in civilization. Considering the nature of human beings and the physical world they inhabit, if individuals are to flourish in society they need rules regarding thine and mine. But “ideal objects” are not bound by the same restrictions. Ideas can be multiplied infinitely and almost costlessly; they can be used nonrivalrously.
If I articulate an idea in front of other people, each now has his own “copy.” Yet I retain mine. However the others use their copies, it is hard to see how they have committed an injustice.
Practices respectful of private property in physical objects and land emerged spontaneously over millennia, embedded in customs that served to avert conflict in order to create space within which social beings could flourish. (See John Hasnas’s “Toward a Theory of Empirical Natural Rights” [PDF].)
In contrast, “rights” in ideas — patents and copyrights — were government monopoly grants having nothing in common with the notion of property at the heart of libertarianism. In fact, such artificial rights undermine genuine property by authorizing IP holders to enlist government power to stop other people from using their justly acquired resources and ideas. For example, if Jones (having committed no trespass) observes Smith’s invention or artistic creation, Jones could be legally stopped from using his own physical property in conjunction with ideas obtained through that observation. That sure looks as though IP bestows on Smith purported rights over Jones’s tangible property and even Jones himself. One might ask, Isn’t the idea Smith’s? But I can’t see how an idea in Jones’s mind can possibly be Smith’s, even if Smith had it first — unless Smith owns Jones, an unlibertarian notion indeed.
When you’re a little kid, any slightly long object turns into your own personal phone. The remote control, a banana, maybe even a sausage have all served as substitute talking devices for children not quite old enough to have their own fully-functional mobile device.
Dozens of visitors fell into the water in China after a foot bridge collapsed on Sunday.Surveillance video shows the moment a large group of people crossing a pedestrian bridge in China’s Jiangxi province is sent tumbling into the water, triggering a frantic rescue effort.
As people cross, the bridge folds beneath them, dumping dozens of people into the two-meter-deep water. Local authorities said that more than ten people were injured. The cause of the collapse is still under investigation.