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文明的竞逐盛衰:没有什么是板上钉钉

在写作方式上,澳大利亚学者布莱内(Geoffrey Blainey)的《世界简史:从非洲到月球》明显受到戴蒙德影响。不过布莱内面临的是一个几乎不可能完成的任务:用二十八万字篇幅,将从猿人直立到互联网时代四百万年的历史讲清楚,且不加一个脚注。

人类生活方式的改变,需要更精确的记录和计算方法。公元前3400年左右,书写和阅读技术最早在两河流域产生,虽然从现代人的眼光看来,当时的文字更像是陶土上的简陋绘画。两河流域间散落的十几个城邦各自创造了不同的计数系统,相互竞争淘汰,最后剩下十进制和六十进制两种。很明显,取得最终胜利的是十进制,但六十进制也靠着每小时60分钟的方式保存了下来。

公元前1500年左右的中国,在政治组织、金属制品、书写方式,乃至于农业和天文学方面都远远落在了两河流域的后面,唯一值得夸耀的是制陶和炼铜技术。但一千年后两河文明逐渐走向衰落,中国人成为了全球最具创造力的民族:“在冶金学方面,他们是王者;在水利灌溉技术上,他们推陈出新;在数学和天文学方面,他们上下求索;他们用纺织机织出了可制作精美服饰的丝绸。”

布莱内提供了一个惊人的数字:欧洲三分之一的陆地是半岛或岛屿,但非洲只有百分之二的地区是这样的地貌。非洲由于缺乏海湾和港口,船只无法顺畅出入内陆,湿热的热带雨林滋生传染病,也严重阻碍了文明的发展。

布莱内指出:“中国人不走运的地方在于,他们在很多技术方面都长期领先于世界,但在那项后来被证明是打开未来之门的关键技术上,他们总是忽冷忽热,时而别出心裁,时而又懒于钻研。”中国发明了指南针,绘制了当时最精确的地图,但却缺乏发现新世界的热情,遂将海洋霸权拱手相让欧洲人。

更重要的是,中国的发明多是孤立的,源于一两个人的聪明才智,后继乏人,如同黑暗夜空里一两颗孤独的明星。欧洲更擅长团队合作,天才往往成群而来,发明往往呈井喷之势:“发明既是个人之间的竞争,也是团队合作的结果。制造和改进蒸汽引擎、铁路、电报、钢铁生产和纺织机器的努力,发生在许多国家成百上千个锐意进取的工作车间里。”很多重大的变革,来自现在早已被遗忘的人们的贡献。
civ  comparison  technology  book 
march 2019 by aries1988
China’s Ambitious Plan to Build the World’s Biggest Supergrid

But even as China celebrates the completion of more than 30,000 km of UHV lines, power engineers are struggling to master the resulting hybrid AC-DC transmission system. They must ensure that the new long-haul DC lines don’t destabilize China’s regional AC grids. For example, if the 8-gigawatt DC line from Gansu were to unexpectedly go off line, the power shock could cause widespread blackouts in Hunan and beyond.

To minimize the threat, the State Grid Corp. of China, a state-owned company that runs most of China’s transmission and distribution grids, intentionally limits the line’s throughput to no more than 4.5 GW. In practice, the line has carried less than one-quarter of its design capacity on average. That’s one reason why over one-third of Gansu province’s theoretical wind output and one-fifth of its solar potential went unused in 2017. Other UHV lines in neighboring regions have similarly operated below capacity. And eastern provinces don’t have sufficient incentive to import the cleaner power that the UHV lines offer.

State Grid’s long-term goal to interconnect its regional grids should also reduce curtailment, experts say. Zhang Ning, an authority on renewables integration at Tsinghua University, points out that the Southwest grid’s hydropower can balance the fluctuations in the Northwest’s wind and solar output. If we interconnect the West, curtailment of wind power there can be reduced from more than 20 percent to 5 percent, he estimates, and both regions’ use of coal can also be cut.
numbers  china  today  energy  eolien  technology  engineering  corporation 
february 2019 by aries1988
Finding Lena, the Patron Saint of JPEGs

About six months later, a copy of the issue turned up at the University of Southern California’s Signal and Image Processing Institute, where Alexander Sawchuk and his team happened to be looking for a new photograph against which to test their latest compression algorithm—the math that would make unwieldy image files manageable. Lena’s glossy centerfold, with its complex mixture of colors and textures, was the perfect candidate. They tore off the top third of the spread, ran it through a set of analog-to-digital converters, and saved the resulting 512-line scan to their Hewlett-Packard 2100.

as she told me her life story, recalling her trips from America to Sweden, her marriages and jobs, the lives of her children and grandchildren, it became abundantly clear that the Playboy episode and its aftermath is a curious footnote, a part of her life that she has been largely excluded from, if only because no one thought to tell her very much about it.
controversy  female  technology  image  computer  history  model  story  sweden 
february 2019 by aries1988
Waking Up with Sam Harris: #133 — Globalism on the Brink
Legitimate grievances with immigration https://overcast.fm/+Ic2iBh0LA/32:11
Impact of automation https://overcast.fm/+Ic2iBh0LA/39:34
Universal basic income, solution? https://overcast.fm/+Ic2iBh0LA/39:42

It's one thing for the Chinese to steal our intellectual property, it's another for them to steal our strategy."
civic  nationalism  technology  crisis  transformation  society  politics  trump  2018  globalism  explained  cosmopolitanism  podcast 
october 2018 by aries1988
內亞海洋與帝國秩序(一):豐饒之海 – Zhongjing Liu | 劉仲敬 – Medium
人类的文明,我把它解释成一个规则生成和演化的过程。

真正规则产生的地方,就是我发明了一个名词叫「原始丰饶」来称呼它,很大一部分,甚至大部分,都产生在人类文字和文明以前的时代。为什么会产生在这个时代?照列维·斯特劳斯的解释,恰好就是因为文字和文明的产生,导致了管制系统的加强,因此原先在无文时代,比较自由而多元化的演化,在文明和管制体系产生以后,反而变得缓慢和单一了。

文字产生以后,唯一产生的东西就是官僚制度和国家制度,而发明的速度反而是减慢了。

如果你把世界看成是一种达尔文式的生态演化产物,那你就可以看出,规则在什么情况下能够最大限度的产生和演化。它应该是多元的,应该存在着许多个彼此之间相对孤立的小生态环境,局部规则在这样的小生态环境中间,能够充分的产生,在它产生做大以前,不会受到太多的干涉。它要有一定流动性,但是流动速度是有限的和缓慢的,也就是说,不同的小生态环境,以及各种不同的局部规则,要通过相互渗透接触和碰撞,不断地深化和演进。但是,速度不能快到席卷一切的地步。

这种环境之是不利于规则复杂度的演化的。

文明的核心区,表面上看是最繁荣,光华最盛的地方,恰好是消耗得最厉害的地方。

分为三种在时间上有交错,但是先后顺序还是很明显的类型:高地型,湿地型和草原型。

回顾文明最初产生的状态

一般人理解的文明,就是第二种类型的文明,在湿地建立起来的文明。一般来说这种文明能够供最大量的人口,可能人类的80–90%以上,都是来自于这种湿地的人口,能够建立起大帝国和强大的官僚机构,能够供养大批知识分子,能够建立巨大的神庙和公共建筑物的文明

第三种文明是产生最晚、草原型的文明。

他们不能独立存在,他们的某些至关紧要的物质需要通过交易,从其他周围的文明中取得,而自己没办法产生。所以这种文明一定是次生型的文明。

退到一个更加边远的草原地带以后,更加依赖草原以后,寻求新的技术突破,然后产生新型的文明。

这个文明的重要性在哪呢?它产生了对后来全世界影响很大的突破。它突破了军事技术,通过军事技术产生了军事贵族。而在次生型的大多数文明当中,军事贵族制度是他们宪法制度的核心。

后来产生的文明,特别是雅利安人入侵以后的文明,完全不是这个样子。他们的军事色彩是异常突出的,军事贵族始终在统治权力中间处于核心地位。

极大地加快了传播的速度。加快传播的速度,也就是意味着缩短了孤立系统独立演化规则的时间

武士跟奴隶不一样,商王也用大量的奴隶来殉葬,但是武士恐怕是自愿殉葬的。因为你很难强迫他们殉葬,

为什么这个技术来自中亚?到底还是因为中亚是草原上是竞争最激烈的地方,它是军事演化速度最快的地方。

西亚这个地方,从加息特人(原居于札格罗斯山脉中部。公元前16世纪初占据巴比伦,建立加息特王朝)入侵到雅利安人入侵,基本上几十年就一波

五胡十六国的入侵肯定是扮演了类似的军事革命。而西魏北周,建立隋唐的过程,可以看成是新一波的入侵和革新,残唐五代,一直到辽金元这个系统,又可以看成是一批新的边区武士系统的入侵。每一次都伴随着军事制度的改变和政治制度的相应改变。
china  civ  concep  theory  east-asia  middle-asia  technology  warrior  military  empire  evolution 
september 2018 by aries1988
The future was now at the 1939 World's Fair – and it is still awesome | Aeon Videos
From the perspective of the 21st century, it’s hard to imagine what a marvel the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair would have been to its visitors. Still living in the heavy shadow of the stock market crash of 1929, the many people who flocked to the big exhibition found not only bounteous luxuries such as free Coca-Cola, but the unveiling of unthinkable new technologies that promised that a better world lay ahead. Using sparkling, rare, colour film footage – itself a brand-new technology at the time – the US director Amanda Murray mines the memories of several people who attended the New York World’s Fair in 1939.
worldfair  usa  childhood  memory  modernity  technology  newyork  movie  interview 
august 2018 by aries1988
被浪费的危机 - 火枪与账簿

中国无法在晚明主动完成现代化变迁,不是由于某种难以量化的民族性或文化传统,也不完全是因为地缘政治环境带来的竞争性压力不足,更根本的或许是因为这一变迁本身与中国社会之间存在着某种结构性冲突,从而使得围绕着新技术的活动要么未能转化为力量,要么是阻碍而非促进了国家力量的发挥。
book  critic  china  ming  technology  invention  innovation  why 
july 2018 by aries1988
From imitation to innovation: How China became a tech superpower
The most obvious example is DJI, a Shenzhen-based startup that virtually created the category of consumer drones, including the popular Phantom and Mavic series.

As Gu was discussing genius and mortality, his robot farted. The little machine is programmed to do so, but it happens

Now his team is working on “far-field speech recognition”, deciphering commands shouted or whispered from three to five metres away.
chinese  technology  leader  today  reportage 
february 2018 by aries1988
Tech trends for 2018: the big will get bigger
the main engines of growth for the biggest tech companies in 2018 are ones that have already become a deeply ingrained part of business life: digital advertising, ecommerce and the wholesale move of global IT to the cloud.

Ecommerce accounts for about 14 per cent of sales in the US and 9 per cent in western Europe, according to Goldman Sachs. In China, the figure is 22 per cent.

The US platform companies that have positioned themselves to ride these waves are ending 2017 as the world’s five most valuable groups: Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. And even with Apple expected to show barely any revenue growth in 2018, these companies are forecast to add $100bn in sales between them next year — a collective growth rate of 14 per cent.
2017  2018  prediction  technology  leader  company 
december 2017 by aries1988
Apple and Shazam sing the same tune
The core audio-recognition software itself was created in Silicon Valley by Avery Wang, a specialist in digital signal processing with a PhD in electrical engineering from Stanford University.

Mr Wang was sitting in a café in Palo Alto in 2000 when he came up with the breakthrough technique for identifying a song from recordings, even with low-quality phone microphones and background noise. 

His original patent, filed in 2001 jointly with his Stanford professor Julius Smith, for a “system and methods for recognising sound and music signals in high noise and distortion” remains a foundational part of Shazam’s technology and intellectual property portfolio. 

Mr Wang is the only one of Shazam’s four co-founders still working at the company. After he joins Apple, along with the rest of Shazam’s research and development team in Silicon Valley’s Redwood City, the iPhone maker will have fresh capabilities not only in music identification but the ability to recognise a wide range of audio signals, from TV and movies to the sound of people laughing or clapping.

“Apple isn’t buying Shazam for music. Instead, Shazam is an augmented-reality play,” Neil Cybart, an Apple analyst, said in his Above Avalon email newsletter on Monday.

US companies, he adds, have been more successful at commercialisation and scaling up a new technology than their British counterparts. “What we are really good at in this country is innovation and creativity. We should try to play to our strengths and be willing to partner or sell out to US companies.”
usa  uk  music  innovation  app  mobile  2017  apple  technology 
december 2017 by aries1988
What Happens If China Makes First Contact?

Science fiction is sometimes described as a literature of the future, but historical allegory is one of its dominant modes. Isaac Asimov based his Foundation series on classical Rome, and Frank Herbert’s Dune borrows plot points from the past of the Bedouin Arabs. Liu is reluctant to make connections between his books and the real world, but he did tell me that his work is influenced by the history of Earth’s civilizations, “especially the encounters between more technologically advanced civilizations and the original settlers of a place.” One such encounter occurred during the 19th century, when the “Middle Kingdom” of China, around which all of Asia had once revolved, looked out to sea and saw the ships of Europe’s seafaring empires, whose ensuing invasion triggered a loss in status for China comparable to the fall of Rome.

Every so often, a Hans Zimmer bass note would sound, and the glass pane would fill up with the smooth, spaceship-white side of another train, whooshing by in the opposite direction at almost 200 miles an hour.

seti does share some traits with religion. It is motivated by deep human desires for connection and transcendence. It concerns itself with questions about human origins, about the raw creative power of nature, and about our future in this universe—and it does all this at a time when traditional religions have become unpersuasive to many.

China could rightly regard itself as the lone survivor of the great Bronze Age civilizations, a class that included the Babylonians, the Mycenaeans, and even the ancient Egyptians. Western poets came to regard the latter’s ruins as Ozymandian proof that nothing lasted. But China had lasted. Its emperors presided over the planet’s largest complex social organization. They commanded tribute payments from China’s neighbors, whose rulers sent envoys to Beijing to perform a baroque face-to-the-ground bowing ceremony for the emperors’ pleasure.
astronomy  seti  china  alien  chinese  project  state  scientist  scifi  technology  development  2017  future  human  discovery  history  Space  interview 
november 2017 by aries1988
La « nouvelle ère » Xi, un défi pour le modèle occidental
Enfin, seul maître à bord, Xi promet à son 1,4 milliard de compatriotes un « développement en deux étapes » : d’ici à 2035, la Chine aura achevé sa modernisation, notamment en termes d’innovation et, en 2049, année du centenaire de la fondation de la République populaire, elle aura atteint le statut de leader planétaire, défendue par une armée « de premier rang mondial ».

Il lui manque toujours la reconnaissance d’un prix Nobel, les scandales de fraude sont encore trop nombreux et l’argent ne peut pas tout. Mais la taille compte. Avec 730 millions de personnes connectées, un usage du téléphone mobile plus avancé que celui des pays occidentaux et infiniment moins de barrières éthiques, la Chine aborde la bataille de l’intelligence artificielle avec de gros atouts.

Si « l’ère » est nouvelle, cependant, le modèle de la concentration des pouvoirs dans les mains d’un seul homme et de son parti, lui, est familier. Cela s’appelle une dictature. Son succès serait, pour le coup, une authentique innovation.
chronique  china  2017  future  politics  innovation  technology  comparison  ai 
october 2017 by aries1988
LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman: ‘Board games inspired my business strategy’

Settlers of Catan is part of a group of so-called “German-style board games” which reward strategy rather than luck and are less centred on themes of conflict than many US board games. Devised in 1995 by designer Klaus Teuber, it has also been reimagined as a very popular app. Set on a fictional island in Viking times, the aim is to collect and trade commodity cards (such as wool, grain and brick), before exchanging them for plastic roads and settlements to occupy the board. Points are awarded for things like having the longest road, and the first player to reach 10 points wins.

He says he prefers games to that other great standby of American males, hanging out watching sports. “People are bad about social stuff. They get uncomfortable in silence. One of the benefits of a board game is it replaces the silence, it keeps the momentum of the conversation going.”

Discussing books he has read recently, he enthuses about Nonzero by Robert Wright — “one of my favourite intellectual authors. Basically, his theory is you have cultural evolution because you have a preference for non-zero sum games.” As society evolves, there are more and more interactions where both sides come out a winner.
game  comparison  technology  siliconvalley  american  entrepreneurial  politics  human  ai  thinking  future 
october 2017 by aries1988
The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions - MIT Technology Review

We see a similar pattern with other technologies over the last 30 years. A big promise up front, disappointment, and then slowly growing confidence in results that exceed the original expectations. This is true of computation, genome sequencing, solar power, wind power, and even home delivery of groceries.

modern-day AGI research is not doing well at all on either being general or supporting an independent entity with an ongoing existence. It mostly seems stuck on the same issues in reasoning and common sense that AI has had problems with for at least 50 years. All the evidence that I see says we have no real idea yet how to build one. Its properties are completely unknown, so rhetorically it quickly becomes magical, powerful without limit.

Today’s machine learning is not at all the sponge-like learning that humans engage in, making rapid progress in a new domain without having to be surgically altered or purpose-built.

What Gordon Moore actually said was that the number of components that could fit on a microchip would double every year. That held true for 50 years, although the time constant for doubling gradually lengthened from one year to over two years, and the pattern is coming to an end.

The U.S. Air Force still flies the B-52H variant of the B-52 bomber. This version was introduced in 1961, making it 56 years old. The last one was built in 1962, a mere 55 years ago. Currently these planes are expected to keep flying until at least 2040, and perhaps longer—there is talk of extending their life to 100 years.
robot  ai  future  technology  opinion 
october 2017 by aries1988
Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?
More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills.

Gen X managed to stretch adolescence beyond all previous limits: Its members started becoming adults earlier and finished becoming adults later. Beginning with Millennials and continuing with iGen, adolescence is contracting again—but only because its onset is being delayed. Across a range of behaviors—drinking, dating, spending time unsupervised— 18-year-olds now act more like 15-year-olds used to, and 15-year-olds more like 13-year-olds. Childhood now stretches well into high school.
essay  teenager  generation  crisis  device  iphone  parenting  children  health  technology  2010s  moi  sociology  psychology 
august 2017 by aries1988
New to the Archaeologist’s Tool Kit: The Drone

Dr. Castillo’s eureka moment occurred in 2012, while teaching in Sweden, where researchers were working with a powerful Russian-made computer program that could meld hundreds of photographs into a 3-D composite image. Dr. Castillo realized that by feeding his drone photographs into the program, he could produce incredibly detailed and clear 3-D images of ancient temples, fortifications and burial sites.
data  drone  archaeology  technology  today  map 
august 2017 by aries1988
A Sociology of the Smartphone

we count on them to fill the dead spaces, the still moments and silences that used to occupy so much of our lives.

Most obviously, the smartphone replaced conventional telephones, leading to the widespread disappearance from streetscapes everywhere of that icon of midcentury urbanity, the telephone booth, and all the etiquettes of negotiated waiting and deconfliction that attended it. Where phone booths remain, they now act mostly as a platform for other kinds of services—WiFi connectivity, or ads for sex workers.

As a result, it’s already difficult to contemplate objects like a phone booth, a Filofax or a Palm Pilot without experiencing a shock of either reminiscence or perplexity, depending on the degree of our past acquaintance.

a rechargeable lithium-ion or lithium-polymer battery capable of sustaining roughly 1,500 charging cycles. This will yield just about four years of use, given the need to charge the phone daily, though experience suggests that few of us will retain a given handset that long.

the performance of everyday life as mediated by the smartphone depends on a vast and elaborate infrastructure that is ordinarily invisible to us.

according to Google, four out of every five consumers use the map application to make local searches, half of those who do so wind up visiting a store within twenty-four hours, and one out of every five of these searches results in a conversion, or sale.

The only way to hide from that knowledge is to decouple ourselves from the fabric of connections that gives us everything else we are. And that is something we clearly find hard to do, for practical reasons as much as psychic ones: network connectivity now underwrites the achievement of virtually every other need on the Maslovian pyramid, to the extent that refugees recently arriving from warzones have been known to ask for a smartphone before anything else, food and shelter not excluded.
idea  essay  device  smartphone  life  change  technology  perception  today  world  opinion 
july 2017 by aries1988
What we get wrong about technology
Instead, when we try to imagine the future, the past offers two lessons. First, the most influential new technologies are often humble and cheap. Mere affordability often counts for more than the beguiling complexity of an organic robot such as Rachael. Second, new inventions do not appear in isolation, as Rachael and her fellow androids did. Instead, as we struggle to use them to their best advantage, they profoundly reshape the societies around us.

Paper had been invented 1,500 years earlier in China and long used in the Arabic world, where literacy was common. Yet it had taken centuries to spread to Christian Europe, because illiterate Europe no more needed a cheap writing surface than it needed a cheap metal to make crowns and sceptres.

Paper caught on only when a commercial class started to need an everyday writing surface for contracts and accounts. “If 11th-century Europe had little use for paper,” writes Mark Kurlansky in his book Paper, “13th-century Europe was hungry for it.”

The American west was reshaped by the invention of barbed wire, which was marketed by the great salesman John Warne Gates with the slogan: “Lighter than air, stronger than whiskey, cheaper than dust.”

the simple invention prevented free-roaming bison and cowboys’ herds of cattle from trampling crops.

this plunge has been driven less by any great technological breakthrough than by the humble methods familiar to anyone who shops at Ikea: simple modular products that have been manufactured at scale and that snap together quickly on site.
invention  technology  productivity  industry  history  future  creativity 
july 2017 by aries1988
At Waldorf School in Silicon Valley, Technology Can Wait - The New York Times
While other schools in the region brag about their wired classrooms, the Waldorf school embraces a simple, retro look — blackboards with colorful chalk, bookshelves with encyclopedias, wooden desks filled with workbooks and No. 2 pencils.

On a recent Tuesday, Andie Eagle and her fifth-grade classmates refreshed their knitting skills, crisscrossing wooden needles around balls of yarn, making fabric swatches. It’s an activity the school says helps develop problem-solving, patterning, math skills and coordination. The long-term goal: make socks.

Down the hall, a teacher drilled third-graders on multiplication by asking them to pretend to turn their bodies into lightning bolts. She asked them a math problem — four times five — and, in unison, they shouted “20” and zapped their fingers at the number on the blackboard. A roomful of human calculators.

In second grade, students standing in a circle learned language skills by repeating verses after the teacher, while simultaneously playing catch with bean bags. It’s an exercise aimed at synchronizing body and brain. Here, as in other classes, the day can start with a recitation or verse about God that reflects a nondenominational emphasis on the divine.

parents of students at the Los Altos school say it attracts great teachers who go through extensive training in the Waldorf approach, creating a strong sense of mission that can be lacking in other schools.
education  technology  debate  children  learn  philosophy 
april 2017 by aries1988
Lunch with the FT: Pokémon Go creator John Hanke

Despite the game’s initially chaotic impact, Hanke still insists there is an opportunity for local authorities to use Pokémon Go to light up neglected nature spots. The sad thing is we have a lot of great parks that people just don’t use because everybody just goes home and puts on the TV and shuts their front doors, he says. We want to pull people back out into public spaces. Some might even volunteer to clean up after themselves, he suggests optimistically.

The takeaway for me was just seeing people can be incredibly happy in the situation of extreme poverty and lack of development, he recalls. There’s this quiet happiness about the people that live in Burma.
interview  PokemonGO  game  ar  device  opinion  technology  daily 
november 2016 by aries1988
Joel Mokyr: Progress Isn't Natural - The Atlantic
How and why did the modern world and its unprecedented prosperity begin? Many bookshelves are full of learned tomes by historians, economists, political philosophers and other erudite scholars with endless explanations. One way of looking at the question is by examining something basic, and arguably essential: the emergence of a belief in the usefulness of progress.

This was a departure from the beliefs of most societies in the past, which were usually given to some measure of “ancestor worship”—the belief that all wisdom had been revealed to earlier sages and that to learn anything one should peruse their writings and find the answer in their pages.
essay  human  history  technology  science  knowledge  development 
november 2016 by aries1988
Crash: how computers are setting us up for disaster | Tim Harford

The psychologist James Reason, author of Human Error, wrote: “Manual control is a highly skilled activity, and skills need to be practised continuously in order to maintain them. Yet an automatic control system that fails only rarely denies operators the opportunity for practising these basic control skills … when manual takeover is necessary something has usually gone wrong; this means that operators need to be more rather than less skilled in order to cope with these atypical conditions.”

Bonin seemed nervous. The slightest hint of trouble produced an outburst of swearing: “Putain la vache. Putain!” – the French equivalent of “Fucking hell. Fuck!” More than once he expressed a desire to fly at “3-6” – 36,000 feet – and lamented the fact that Air France procedures recommended flying a little lower.

In any case, Bonin silently retook control of the plane and tried to climb again. It was an act of pure panic. Robert and Dubois had, perhaps, realised that the plane had stalled – but they never said so. They may not have realised that Bonin was the one in control of the plane. And Bonin never grasped what he had done. His last words were: “But what’s happening?”
airplane  airline  accident  psychology  computer  technology  human  error 
october 2016 by aries1988
Andrew Sullivan: My Distraction Sickness — and Yours

At your desk at work, or at home on your laptop, you disappeared down a rabbit hole of links and resurfaced minutes (or hours) later to reencounter the world. But the smartphone then went and made the rabbit hole portable, inviting us to get lost in it anywhere, at any time, whatever else we might be doing. Information soon penetrated every waking moment of our lives.

My breathing slowed. My brain settled. My body became much more available to me. I could feel it digesting and sniffing, itching and pulsating. It was if my brain were moving away from the abstract and the distant toward the tangible and the near.

Remember, my friend Sam Harris, an atheist meditator, had told me before I left, if you’re suffering, you’re thinking.

If you’re watching a football game with your son while also texting a friend, you’re not fully with your child — and he knows it. Truly being with another person means being experientially with them, picking up countless tiny signals from the eyes and voice and body language and context, and reacting, often unconsciously, to every nuance. These are our deepest social skills, which have been honed through the aeons. They are what make us distinctively human.

in a controlled and sequestered world that exists largely free of the sudden eruptions or encumbrances of actual human interaction.

The reason we live in a culture increasingly without faith is not because science has somehow disproved the unprovable, but because the white noise of secularism has removed the very stillness in which it might endure or be reborn.

From the moment I entered a church in my childhood, I understood that this place was different because it was so quiet.

this silence demarcated what we once understood as the sacred, marking a space beyond the secular world of noise and business and shopping.

The only place like it was the library, and the silence there also pointed to something beyond it — to the learning that required time and patience, to the pursuit of truth that left practical life behind.

Has our enslavement to dopamine — to the instant hits of validation that come with a well-crafted tweet or Snapchat streak — made us happier?

just as modern street lighting has slowly blotted the stars from the visible skies, so too have cars and planes and factories and flickering digital screens combined to rob us of a silence that was previously regarded as integral to the health of the human imagination.
technology  culture  internet  meditation  distraction  essay  attention  habit  reading  information  brain  silence  thinking  family  today 
september 2016 by aries1988
With the iPhone 7, Apple Changed the Camera Industry Forever - The New Yorker
The distinct business advantage that Apple has achieved thanks to its hardware is the sheer volume of iPhone sales, which justifies the big spending on the specialized chips that make that hardware so powerful. The new image processor is a perfect example. It can spread the cost of that investment in chips over hundreds of millions of iPhones. In comparison, the falling sales of stand-alone cameras have hampered the ability of camera companies to innovate and spend on core technologies. Given that hardware and software are equally important today, Apple’s advances in both areas makes it difficult for anyone to beat the company in photography for the masses. You can see why the camera companies are doomed.
photography  market  camera  iphone  2016  analysis  technology  software  development 
september 2016 by aries1988
Planet of the apps — have we paved the way for our own extinction? — FT.com
Harari’s skill lies in the way he tilts the prism in all these fields and looks at the world in different ways, providing fresh angles on what we thought we knew. No matter how scary and incomplete, the result is scintillating.

He points to the success of the Montreal Protocol of 1987 as a great model of international co-operation and solidarity. This treaty, ratified by 197 countries, played a vital role in reducing the release of harmful ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons from aerosols and refrigeration systems.

For the moment, the rise of populism, the rickety architecture of the European Union, the turmoil in the Middle East and the competing claims on the South China Sea will consume most politicians’ attention.
human  future  biology  technology  challenge  environment  book  ai  debate  crisis 
september 2016 by aries1988
We have to recycle water on a massive scale – this is how we can | New Scientist
This may sound far-fetched, but various components of this model have been around for a long time. The technology is now at a point where it’s possible to envisage the separate parts being stitched together.

The joke reflects our discomfort with water that has been “pre-owned”, something that’s likely to be worse in a smaller hydrological cycle. But anything undesirable in the small system also exists in the bigger one – just dispersed more widely. “We all live downstream,” says Blatchley. “It’s just a matter of scale.”
technology  water 
august 2016 by aries1988
Revenge of the nerds | The Economist
Strava, a mobile app, allows cyclists and joggers to compete with each other even if they live thousands of miles apart.
technology  leader  teenager  life  lifestyle  psychology  health 
august 2016 by aries1988
Paul Taylor · The Concept of ‘Cat Face’: Machine Learning · LRB 11 August 2016
That accolade probably now belongs to move 78 in the fourth game between Sedol and AlphaGo, a moment of apparently inexplicable intuition which gave Sedol his only victory in the series. The move, quickly named the Touch of God, has captured the attention not just of fans of Go but of anyone with an interest in what differentiates human from artificial intelligence.

In 2011 he founded DeepMind with, he has said, a two-step plan to ‘solve intelligence, and then use that to solve everything else’.

One of the differences Dreyfus identified between human intelligence and digital computation is that humans interpret information in contexts that aren’t explicitly and exhaustively represented.
ai  explained  history  technology 
august 2016 by aries1988
How drones are learning to find their own way in the world | New Scientist
It previously took hours of postflight processing to build maps from drone footage. The bottleneck was processing power. The team overcame this by harnessing the power of GPUs – fast image-processing chips originally developed for games.
data  drone  GPS  technology  map  mapping 
july 2016 by aries1988
How the E-Book Will Change the Way We Read and Write
Think about it. Before too long, you’ll be able to create a kind of shadow version of your entire library, including every book you’ve ever read — as a child, as a teenager, as a college student, as an adult. Every word in that library will be searchable. It is hard to overstate the impact that this kind of shift will have on scholarship. Entirely new forms of discovery will be possible. Imagine a software tool that scans through the bibliographies of the 20 books you’ve read on a specific topic, and comes up with the most-cited work in those bibliographies that you haven’t encountered yet.

In other words, an infinite bookstore at your fingertips is great news for book sales, and may be great news for the dissemination of knowledge, but not necessarily so great for that most finite of 21st-century resources: attention.

If the Kindle payment architecture takes off, it may ultimately lead the way toward the standardized micropayment system whose nonexistence has caused so much turmoil in the news business — a system many people wish had been built into the Web’s original architecture, along with those standardized page locations.
ebook  reading  technology 
november 2015 by aries1988
What Would It Take to Double a Cell Phone’s Battery Life?
Recent research shows magnesium can have double the charge-speed and can hold twice the amount of charge as lithium. (Aluminum is another likely contender as well because it can hold three times the amount of electrons as lithium.

Recent improvements to phone batteries have increased energy density by about 5 to 6 percent each year—which translates to a few extra hours on a smartphone or laptop.
batteries  technology  explained 
june 2015 by aries1988
Uber Scandal Highlights Silicon Valley’s Grown-Up Problem
In other words, the very values at the core of start-up culture — the move fast, break things, us-against-the-world spirit of experimentation — are inconsistent with the kinds of responsibilities that come with being an economically important company that touches millions of customers.

What all these incidents have in common is that they offer a portrait of a company without adults in charge. From the top executive ranks to individual operational units around the world, the mentality seems to be one in which sheer belief in the rightness of their cause overwhelms what to an outsider seems at best questionable and at worst immoral practices.
today  technology  startup  entrepreneurial  corporation  management 
november 2014 by aries1988
Goldman Sachs Recasts Its Reputation to Woo Tech Talent
In recruiting programmers from elite universities, Wall Street runs up against the idea that Silicon Valley is the technological promised land.

“Whereas in other opportunities you might be considering, it is working one type of data or one type of application, we deal in hundreds of products in hundreds of markets, with thousands or tens of thousands of clients, every day, millions of times of day worldwide,” Afsheen Afshar, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, told the students.

At the Columbia event, the screen at the front of the room had a word cloud showing the cool fields — at least for computer scientists — that Goldman engineers work in, among them “machine learning,” “data mining” and “cloud computing.”

In 2007, for instance, 28.7 percent of M.I.T. graduating seniors took a job in finance and only 9.3 percent went to software companies. At graduation last year, those numbers had flipped, with 21.5 percent of graduates taking software jobs and only 11.8 percent going into finance.

“As soon as we start talking to the candidates about what our starting packages look like, the lifestyle questions about flip-flops and beanbags really start to go away,” he said.
career  choice  technology  finance  youth  future  programming 
november 2014 by aries1988
Tech Rides Are Focus of Hostility in Bay Area
What is at issue, however, is not Silicon Valley’s creativity but its wealth, and the sense of entitlement that brings. The tech companies’ position on the buses is this: We’re not driving our own cars, jamming the roads and polluting the air. We spend our money here in San Francisco, keeping high-end waiters and baristas and boutiques salespeople gainfully employed. Be grateful.

The protesters, and increasingly the community, respond: If we parked at a bus stop for just a moment, we would get a $279 ticket. Tech buses do it with impunity. And how do you spend your money in San Francisco if you spend all day 30 miles away?
today  technology  people  life  city  money  usa 
september 2014 by aries1988
Chinese scientists develop mini-camera to scan crowds for potential suicide bombers | South China Morning Post
Using hyperspectral imaging, which examines information across the electromagnetic spectrum, Chen and his research team have developed a "stress sensor" that measures the amount of oxygen in blood across exposed areas of a body, such as the face. "The higher the mental stress, the higher the blood oxygenation," he said.
today  technology  idea  terrorism 
august 2014 by aries1988
Why Making Technology Easier to Use Isn't Always Good : The New Yorker
There have always been groups, often outcasts, who have insisted on adhering to harder ways of doing some things. Compared to Camrys, motorcycles are unreliable, painful, and dangerous, yet some people cannot leave them alone. It may seem crazy to use command-line or plain-text editing software in an age of advanced user interfaces, but some people still do. In our times, D.I.Y. enthusiasts, hackers, and members of the maker movement are some of the people who intuitively understand the importance of demanding tools, without rejecting the idea that technology can improve the human condition. Derided for lacking a “political strategy,” they nonetheless realize that there are far more important agendas than the merely political. Whether they know it or not, they are trying to work out the future of what it means to be human, and, along the way, trying to find out how to make that existence worthwhile.
human  technology  philosophy  from:rss 
february 2014 by aries1988
Burkhard Bilger: Inside Google’s Driverless Car : The New Yorker
“Neural networks are like black boxes,” Pomerleau says. “That makes people nervous, particularly when they’re controlling a two-ton vehicle.”
reportage  technology  google 
december 2013 by aries1988
无人驾驶汽车将怎样改变未来城市生活? - 纽约时报中文网 国际纵览
“我可以在我的无人驾驶汽车里睡觉,或是在车的后面放一台固定式健身脚踏车,可以在上班的路上锻炼,”他说,“我在车里度过的时间会在本质上大为不同。”
driving  from:kindle  technology  future 
july 2013 by aries1988
Marco Arment's The Magazine and the economic case for content bundling.
So as The Magazine gets bigger, the same $1.99 a month fee buys you more content. It's a virtuous circle in which subscription growth drives a superior value proposition that drives more subscription growth. Of course as you scale up, you do hit some hiccups—eventually you need to add extra editorial staff and such—but it's pretty smooth sailing.
business  ios  magazine  technology 
february 2013 by aries1988
TV, The Thinking Person’s Entertainment of Choice - NYTimes.com
quality television series also promise a welcome escape from a muddled, technology-addled existence.

They provide relief from nonnarrative mobile messages, from different voices nattering away, all at once, on different subjects and the multiple, inconstant jobs that now fill so much of our lives.
entertainment  tv  serie  information  technology 
january 2013 by aries1988
Solar-powered aircraft: The Wright stuff? | The Economist
THERE is something of the 19th century about Eric Raymond. Devoted to making commercial solar-powered aircraft, he would have thrived in the Victorian heyday of the private inventor. Most fell by the wayside; their ideas outran their ability or their money. But the names of the successes—Morse, Dunlop, Bell, Diesel and even, to stretch the era into the early 20th century, the brothers Wright—have lived on.

The Duo has a wingspan of 23 metres and a planned weight, when the main gear and any other missing equipment is on board, of 270kg. A 20kW electric motor will drive the propeller, but all of those watts will be needed only during take off and climbing. In level flight, at an altitude of 6,000 metres, the 5kW provided by the solar panels will be enough both to drive the propeller and to recharge the batteries.
technology  future  energy  plane 
november 2012 by aries1988
The iPhone 5 is Boring and Amazing | Gadget Lab | Wired.com
Without emergent inexpensive technologies to force or enable industrial design changes (think: the way cheap flash memory changed the iPod’s design or SSD made possible the MacBook Air) Apple has little reason to shake things up once it has a product really nailed down. With the iPhone, in its sixth iteration, things have gotten so good that Apple does not change very much anymore. And so you get the iPhone 5 — which basically looks like a longer, thinner version of the iPhone 4. But the iPhone? It’s boring. And it’s probably going to remain that way for the foreseeable future. It’s not bad, it’s just the march of time and technology. Revolution becomes evolution. And that phone in your pocket–or more to the point, in the store window–becomes just a part of your life. It’s something you use, something you rely on. And then completely forget about. And in its own way, that’s actually kind of mind-blowing.
http://www.instapaper.com/read/328159426
iphone  technology  device  life  tool 
october 2012 by aries1988
The Titanic and the End of an Era - NYTimes.com
Perhaps the menu suggests another factor in our fascination. The Titanic sank at the end of an era and on the eve of Europe’s catastrophe. Today, the very language — cockie leekie or grilled mutton (not lamb) chops — evokes the twilight of the Edwardian era, before the eruption of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution, and before the clash of classes and ideologies that the various decks on the Titanic contrived to keep at bay. That clash would become the tragic heart of the 20th century. At dinner in first class that evening the seventh course was roast squab and cress: enough said.
http://www.instapaper.com/read/291632294
technology  accident  zeitgeist  history 
august 2012 by aries1988
On the Brink – Ericsson documentary explores the past, present,...
On the Brink – Ericsson documentary explores the past, present, and future of technology and connectivity, featuring Flickr founder Caterina Fake, Wired UK editor David Rowan, Soundcloud co-founder Eric Wahlforss, and other tech thought-leaders
technology  documentary  innovation  software  futurism  video  startup 
november 2011 by aries1988
The Kinect Effect – goosebump-inducing manifesto for imagination...
The Kinect Effect – goosebump-inducing manifesto for imagination in innovation, disguised as a spot for xbox   (via)
gesture  innovation  gaming  technology 
november 2011 by aries1988

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