Thursday, April 28, 2011

Government uses privately accumulated "ambient data" - The Information

Here is the location for this:
"We are swimming in an ocean of ambient data," Robert Kirkpatrick, the director of the United Nations’ Global Pulse program, said during a panel on global democracy at The Guardian’s Activate New York [here] conference Thursday. “Can we mine that ambient data in real time?”
That question captured the tone of the day-long conference on the Internet and technological change being held at the Paley Center in midtown Manhattan, where earlier Benjamin Bratton, director of design and geopolitics at UC San Diego, talked of redesigning citizenship “for a cloud computing era” and New York City’s chief digital officer Rachel Sterne asked, “How could a city be a platform the way Facebook’s API is a platform?”
During the global democracy panel, speakers Andrew Rasiej, the founder of Personal Democracy Forum, and Evgeny Morozov, author of The Net Delusion [here], disagreed about the dangers posed by making so much user data available to governments.

At the same time, The Guardian newspaper also reported here that Dutch police bought satellite navigation information from TomTom:
"The Dutch national newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported that police had obtained the TomTom information from the government and used it to set targeted speed traps..."

Mining "ambient information" is what makes modernity modern.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

David Deutsch

The current New Yorker magazine has an article on quantum computing here.

This interesting article by Rivka Galchen features the "Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics."  David Deutsch is the principally featured physicist.  His home page is here and here.  He says he is now a fellow of the Royal Society.  His Fabric of Reality book is available here

Here is the web site for Galchen's book Atmospheric Disturbances.

Artur Ekert is featured here.

Robert Schoelkopf is featured here.

On the subway today, while I was reading the article, a young woman was sitting across from me reading exactly the same article.  I wonder whether that is what they mean by parallel universes.

More on the Information -

 There's a piece in that says that social media can be good for Wall Street trading indicators.  Wall Street trading provides more convention than even the government.

The bar Journal has an article here that deals with how our cars generate information that can be used by law enforcement.  Wasn't it Larry Ellison who said, "There's no privacy.  Get over it"?

"Black box data has been used with increasing frequency by prosecutors and plaintiffs lawyers to reconcile witness accounts and provide physical evidence. But it’s taking its toll on privacy rights, some claim."

A law review article on government use of third-party information is here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

James Gleick's The Information - More

Here is a link to a Molly Wood rant on data sharing.  She writes, "Personal information is the currency of the post-technological age, and the cost of "free" has never been higher. Your data, on an increasingly minute and personal level, powers every Web or network-based company, from start-up to monolith."

She compares the situation to the Daniel Suarez book Freedom.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Modern means information-based!

If it's not based on information, it's not modern.

Steve Lohr in The New York Times---here.:
"In a modern economy, information should be the prime asset — the raw material of new products and services, smarter decisions, competitive advantage for companies, and greater growth and productivity."  

Gleick: "Evolution itself embodies an ongoing exchange of information between organism and environment." The place to find this quote in an article for The Smithsonian is here.

The Selfish Gene is a book on evolution by Richard Dawkins, published in 1976.  The Selfish Gene is described in Wikipedia as based on a "gene-centered" view of evolution. This notion helped Gleick with the meme idea as a central, organizing principle.

Have you tried The Lucifer Principle, by Howard Bloom here?   Howard was the one who introduced me to the idea of the meme.

Roger Sperry had the notion that ideas are “just as real” as the neurons they inhabit. Gleick quotes him: Ideas have power, Sperry said:
Ideas cause ideas and help evolve new ideas. They interact with each other and with other mental forces in the same brain, in neighboring brains, and thanks to global communication, in far distant, foreign brains. And they also interact with the external surroundings to produce in toto a burstwise advance in evolution that is far beyond anything to hit the evolutionary scene yet.

In Gleick's Smithsonian article, he wrote: "most of the elements of culture change and blur too easily to qualify as stable replicators." So I guess what we measure things against are "stable replicators."  That's what I'm looking for every day---a stable replicator.

More on the Information

Here's what the Times said here about analytics software today.

"STILL, the software industry is making a big bet that the data-driven decision making described in Mr. Brynjolfsson’s research is the wave of the future. The drive to help companies find meaningful patterns in the data that engulfs them has created a fast-growing industry in what is known as “business intelligence” or “analytics” software and services. Major technology companies — I.B.M., Oracle, SAP and Microsoft — have collectively spent more than $25 billion buying up specialist companies in the field.
I.B.M. alone says it has spent $14 billion on 25 companies that focus on data analytics. That business now employs 8,000 consultants and 200 mathematicians. I.B.M. said last week that it expected its analytics business to grow to $16 billion by 2015.
“The biggest change facing corporations is the explosion of data,” says David Grossman, a technology analyst at Stifel Nicolaus. “The best business is in helping customers analyze and manage all that data.”

In a nutshell, what's wrong is that we don't have enough knowledge workers managing all that data.  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

James Gleick's The Information

"...Sweeping survey that covers five milleniums of humanity's engagement with information" is the quote that comes from the NYT's review of this book by Geoffrey Nunberg on March 20.

I've liked Gleick's other books I read, particularly his Feynman biography, and I look forward to reading this one, too.

IN an age where public officials think that laying off teachers is the key to success in our economy, I wonder whether anyone can get a handle on the information we already have.  We need more programmers and more workers who understand how to create systems that organize raw data into meaningful patterns.  We need more educated workers to study and understand raw data and turn that raw data into meaningful structures that can make the world better, however you measure "better."  We don't have enough competent knowledge workers now, and it doesn't look like we're going to have enough in the future, either.

It's difficult, naturally, to demonstrate that if we had more knowledge workers we'd have more useful knowledge.  But it does seem inherently obvious.

It's said that Claude Shannon invented what's known as "information theory" with an influential paper in 1948.

Here is the link to Brain Pickings regarding this book.  This book is on the best books of 2011 lists from Amazon and Publishers Weekly here.

I'm looking forward to reading Gleick's new book.