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Jan 31, 2015
Promotes Global Unity, Social Betterment and a More Humane Society Read More >
Sep 12, 2014
Features Live Music, Short Films, Comedy and Art, Promotes Social Consciousness Through the Power of Art Read More >
Mar 01, 2014
Toronto Main Event and Beyond Read More >
Feb 03, 2014
A New Book by The Zeitgeist Movement Read More >
Jul 01, 2013
"Changing the World Through Socially Conscious Art" Read More >
More Press Releases >
Nov 25, 2015 Host: James Phillips
Ep 178 European TZM meeting show - Rotterdam. This episode of TZM Global is hosted by UK chapter team member and co-coordinator of TZM Education (www.tzmeducation.org) James Phillips.
This episode includes an interview with the Global Chapters Administration Coordinator Gilbert Ismail regarding the upcoming European TZM Meetup in Rotterdam next month. For more information, please visit the following link: https://www.facebook.com/events/91743...
Also included in this show is a request for more content for TZM Global Radio. Please send pre-recorded submissions to: email@example.com.
Sep 19, 2015 Host: James Phillips
TZM global radio: EP177-To be employed or not to be employed.
This episode of TZM global radio is hosted by UK chapter member and co-coordinator of the movements educational activism project TZM Education: www.tzmeducation.org, James Phillips.
James will be reading the final article from the minds in the making section of of TZM education entitled 'To be employed or not to be employed' which discusses modern attitudes and values towards work and how we might go about making a shift in these and the overall structure of our socio-economic system to transform human/animal and environmental well-being for the better.
This show also includes the announcement that TZM global radio is now taking submissions. If you are interested in doing a radio show for TZM global radio please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get back to you asap. Many thanks.
*This show had to be re-uploaded due to content issues.
Jul 14, 2015 Host: James Phillips
TZM global radio show Riding a Trojan horse to an NLRBE
This weeks episode of TZM global is hosted by UK chapter member and co-coordinator of TZM Education-James Phillips. Along with some movement news James will be reading article nine from the minds in the making section of www.tzmeducation.org entitled 'Riding a Trojan Horse to an NLRBE'.
This article outlines some useful aproaches to adopt when attempting to communicate the idea of an NLRBE.
Jul 13, 2015 Host: James Phillips
A treatment on democratic education and effective communication
This week's episode of TZM global reviews the TZM education trip to the oldest and longest running democratic school in Suffolk, England: Summerhill School. A school where Children make the rules with the teachers and do not have to attend lessons if they do not want to. Chaos and disorder surely runs rife in such a place, right? Perhaps not......
Along with this review James will also read the next article from the minds in the making section of the TZM education website www.tzmeducation.org entitled: An effective communicative approach.
May 06, 2015 Host: James Phillips
LIKE The Zeitgeist Movement @ https://www.facebook.com/tzmglobal FOLLOW The Zeitgeist Movement @ https://twitter.com/tzmglobal JOIN THE MAILING LIST: http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com/
This episode of TZM global is hosted by James Phillips from the UK chapter of TZM and co-cordinator of www.tzmeducation.org. Todays show gives a brief roundup of the UK chapters ZDAY London event, some UK chapter news and a reading of the next article from the minds in the making section of TZM education entitled 'building the perspective for a positive future', which deals with some important changes needed in social and educational values for a sustainable socio-economic paradigm to emerge.
Conventional wisdom would have you believe that most people enter adolescence with a head full of high-minded ideals and a willingness to shake up the system. As they get older, however, they gradually begin to accept the status quo. For me, that process is reversed.
The older I get, the more skeptical I become of our current social model. Why?
Let’s start with this:
It should be of increasing concern to all Americans that there is an extreme disconnect between what Americans believe about man-made climate change, and what science tells us about it. That is to say, despite there being a clear scientific consensus, man-made climate change is more often than not framed as an ambiguous concept in the U.S. mainstream media. Consequently, climate change is generally thought to be far more esoteric than it actually is.
INTRODUCTION AND DISCLAIMER 
The purpose of this project is to enable supporters of a natural law resource based economic model (NLRBE) to understand and appreciate the need to approach the education system in an effort to initiate the value shift required for a more peaceful and sustainable future to emerge.
Today I was reading The Zeitgeist Movement Defined: Realizing a New Train of Thought, again. I did so because I feel the need to express certain frustration on this/my social movement but haven’t found the right words. Also I didn’t want to make any false assumptions on its architecture, so I went straight to the source with a pen in my hand.
I went through the 9 pages that constitute the overview and extracted some notes I would like to post in here:
We need more films about the social, ecological and economic change!
We want to make one and you could help us.
In our Documentary "The Taste of Life" we want to show, that there are people in the whole world, already practicing this change in a great way.
From social symptom to root causes came about as a bi-product of ZDAY 2013 in London, in which all but the introductory talk featured exterior organisations and speakers. Each of whom seek to address a particular social or environmental issue closely aligned with the movement’s materials.
From social symptom to root causes came about as a bi-product of ZDAY 2013 in London, in which all but the introductory talk featured exterior organisations and speakers. Each of whom seek to address a particular social or environmental issue closely aligned with the movement’s materials.
Transcript below. Can also be viewed via PDF HERE.
Welcome to: “3 Questions - What do you propose?” This thought exercise is intended for both the average person, concerned about global problems – along with those who are still confused about - or perhaps even in opposition to The Zeitgeist Movement.
Peter Joseph, ZDay 2016 "Where we go from here" March 26th, Athens Greece [ The Zeitgeist Movement ]
Researchers recently http://news.aces.illinois.edu/news/scientists-discover-evolutionary-link-between-protein-structure-and-function ">made an important discovery in protein science that will advance our understanding of the inner workings of cells. http://www.nature.com/articles/srep25058 ">In an article published in Scientific Reports, the team said they found a critical evolutionary link between a protein’s structure and its function.
Like tiny molecular machines, proteins handle a variety of functions from transporting chemicals to breaking food down into nutrients. The vast range of protein function is possible because of their unique gene-encoded sequence of amino acids, which affects the three-dimensional shape that folded protein chains adopt.
To better understand them, researchers have sequenced and resolved a huge number of protein structures. Currently, the http://www.rcsb.org/pdb/results/results.do?qrid=EF1D3035&tabtoshow=Current ">Protein Data Bank includes 110,000+ structures—far more than the number with known functions. Powerful bioinformatics tools assist in making correlations between the shape and purpose of a protein, but what’s been missing is a direct structure-function link, tantamount to a Rosetta stone-like key.
Fortunately, such a key has now been unearthed.
Researchers in the lab of Professor Gustavo Caetano-Anollés at the University of Illinois examined specific sequences that code for small “loops” in proteins. These loops are critical components in forming active sites, which are the pockets within the protein where functions often take place.
"It turns out that there are little snippets in our genes that are incredibly conserved over time," Caetano-Anollés said. "When we look at higher organisms, such as plants, fungi and animals, as well as bacteria, archaea, and viruses, the same snippets are always there. We see them over and over again."
By investigating networks to probe the linkage between a protein’s unique structure and its molecular function, the http://www.nature.com/articles/srep25058 ">researchers discovered that loops have been utilized in active site formation throughout the geological record. These loops are the first step in being able to understand the function of proteins in cells from billions of years ago to today.
"The big problem in biology is the question of how a protein does what it does. We think the answer rests in protein evolution," Caetano-Anollés said. "For the first time, we have traced evolution onto a biological network."
It appears the loops are conserved through an emergent property referred to as hierarchical modularity, which is “the building of small cohesive parts into larger and increasingly complex wholes," according to Caetano-Anollés.
Hierarchical modularity occurs because in large networks complex organizations of components arise. These organization are referred to as cohesive modules, and they’ve been observed in nonbiological systems as well, including manmade networks like the internet.
Now that the researchers’ methods have identified loops as cohesive modules, the approach can be used to search for other patterns retained across the timeline of protein evolution.
While this research clearly has value to unraveling protein structure-function relationships in ancient and modern organisms, that loops are so key to active site formation will be of particular interest to synthetic biologists interested in the design of new proteins.
In fact, the more cohesive modules identified, the easier it will be to create entirely new sets of proteins with desired functionalities, opening the door to true designer proteins.
Banner image credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock.com
Would you like to have Hyperloop in your city?
I'm proud to be a founding board member of Hyperloop One (the new name for what was formerly known as Hyperloop Technologies).
Last week, I was in the Nevada desert for the Hyperloop Propulsion Open Air Test with the rest of the board, the Hyperloop One team, and hundreds of members of the press.
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If you're not familiar with Hyperloop One, consider what it would be like to travel on the ground at 760+ mph (faster than a jet airplane).
Here are some fun travel examples:
- L.A. >> San Francisco in 35 minutes
- Montreal >> Toronto in 30 minutes
- L.A. >> Vegas in 20 minutes
- Dubai >> Abu Dhabi in 15 minutes
- London >> Paris in 15 minutes
In this post, I am going to give an overview of the Hyperloop and explain how you could bring this transportation system to your city through the Hyperloop Challenge.
What Is Hyperloop?
In 2013, Elon Musk and a group of engineers from Tesla and SpaceX http://singularityhub.com/2013/08/14/musk-estimates-hyperloop-could-shoot-travelers-from-sf-to-la-at-760-miles-per-hour/ ">published a speculative design document for a concept they called "The Hyperloop."
Born out of frustration with California's plan for a bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco—the slowest and most expensive per mile bullet train around, with an estimated cost of $70 billion—the vision for the Hyperloop is a high-speed transportation system that could take travelers from San Francisco to L.A. in 35 minutes for a fraction of the cost.
In other words, it's a "vacuum tube transportation network" that will be able to travel at around 760 mph (1200 kilometers per hour) — on land and underwater.
The team is led by Brogan BamBrogan, who did the design work on the second-stage engine of SpaceX's Falcon 1 and was lead architect for the heat shield of the Dragon capsule.
This team is going big and bold, and they're doing it the right way.
They just closed their latest round of funding of $80 million and achieved a major technology milestone last week.
The Hyperloop Propulsion Open Air Test
Last Wednesday, the Hyperloop One team held what was essentially its first test run, conducting a “propulsion open-air test.”
The team built a half-mile track 35 miles north of Vegas to test its custom-designed linear electric motor at speeds of 540 km/hour.
The motor accelerated from http://gizmodo.com/watch-the-first-full-scale-demo-of-the-hyperloop-1776048315 ">zero to 100 mph in about 1 second and proceeded down the track until stopped by a custom, sand-based braking system. It was a smashing success!
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This was the first of a series of unique innovations from the Hyperloop One team, including advancements in propulsion, tube design and fabrication, levitation systems, pod designs, and thermodynamics and systems engineering.
Hyperloop One’s new CEO Rob Lloyd (past Global President of Cisco) notes that passing this hurdle means they are well on their way to having a full-scale hyperloop to test by the end of the year — on a projected 2-mile track reaching full speeds of over 700 mph.
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Hyperloop's Kitty Hawk Moment — End of This Year!
In 1903, the Wright brothers flew their aircraft for the first time in Kitty Hawk, NC.
The flight lasted only 12 seconds and covered a distance of just 120 feet, but it marked a major milestone in human history: humanity realized that powered flight was real.
This moment changed the face of transportation forever.
Today, every major city throughout the world has an airport, and thousands of airlines fly between them, transporting millions of passengers daily.
Rob Lloyd calls this week’s Open Air Test Hyperloop One’s “pre-Kitty Hawk Moment.”
He expects the Hyperloop One team will have their real Kitty Hawk moment by the end of this year.
Just as in 1903, when few people realized how much the world would change as a result of that first flight, we have likely not yet fully grasped how much the world will change because of Hyperloop.
Lloyd is already looking towards the future — noting that once the Hyperloop is fully functional, “we then imagine how we’re going to take this technology and solve the world’s toughest problems.”
As to where the Hyperloop goes, well… maybe it’s up to you! Keep reading…
The Hyperloop Challenge
Want the Hyperloop to come to your city?
Hyperloop One is hosting a global competition inviting teams from around the world to submit a commercial, transport, economic and policy case for their city, region or country to be considered to host the first Hyperloop networks.
The challenge, a first-of-its-kind competition, aims to identify and select locations around the world with the potential to develop and construct the world’s first Hyperloop networks.
Our goal is to get different key stakeholders (government officials, academics, private investors and architects, to name a few) involved to facilitate the implementation of this technology.
We are asking for teams comprised of these stakeholders to make the case for how Hyperloop can drive economic growth and create new opportunities in their community.
If you or someone you know is interested, register for the challenge https://hyperloop-one.com/global-challenge ">here.
As a member of the Judging Committee, I am excited to hear about your proposals.
Hyperloop is just one example of the amazing transformations that exponential technologies are causing across industries.
Image credit: Hyperloop One
Last weekend, an invite-only group of about 150 experts convened privately at Harvard. Behind closed doors, they discussed the prospect of designing and building an entire human genome from scratch, using only a computer, a DNA synthesizer and raw materials.
The artificial genome would then be inserted into a living human cell to replace its natural DNA. The hope is that the cell “reboots,” changing its biological processes to operate based on instructions provided by the artificial DNA.
In other words, we may soon be looking at the first “artificial human cell.”
But the goal is not just Human 2.0. The project, “HGP-Write: Testing Large Synthetic Genomes in Cells,” also hopes to develop powerful new tools that push synthetic biology into exponential growth on an industrial scale. If successful, we won’t only have the biological tools to design humans as a species — we would have the ability to redesign the living world.
At its core, synthetic biology is a marriage between engineering principles and biotechnology. If DNA sequencing is about reading DNA, genetic engineering is about editing DNA, synthetic biology is about programming new DNA — regardless of its original source — to build new forms of life.
Synthetic biologists view DNA and genes as standard biological bricks that can be used interchangeably to create and modify living cells.
The field has a plug-and-play mentality, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/09/28/a-life-of-its-own ">says Dr. Jay Kiesling, a pioneer of synthetic engineering at the University of California at Berkeley. “When your hard drive dies, you can go to the nearest computer store, buy a new one, swap it out,” he says, “Why shouldn’t we use biological parts in the same way?”
http://i1.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/is-the-world-ready-for-synthetic-life-5.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="is-the-world-ready-for-synthetic-life-5" data-recalc-dims="1" />To accelerate the field, Kiesling and colleagues are putting together a database of standardized DNA pieces — dubbed “http://biobricks.org/ ">BioBricks” — that can be used as puzzle pieces to assemble genetic material completely new to nature.
To Kiesling and others in the field, synthetic biology is like developing a new programming language. Cells are hardware, while DNA is the software that makes them run. With enough knowledge about how genes work, synthetic biologists believe that they will be able to write genetic programs from scratch, allowing them to build new organisms, alter nature and even guide the course of human evolution.
Similar to genetic engineering, synthetic biology gives scientists the power to tinker with natural DNA. The difference is mostly scale: genetic editing is a cut-and-paste process that adds foreign genes or changes the letters in existing genes. Often, only a few sites are changed.
Synthetic biology, on the other hand, creates genes from scratch. This allows scientists far more opportunities to make extensive changes to known genes, or even design their own. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Biodrugs, Biofuels, BioCrops
http://singularityhub.com/2016/04/07/we-should-be-teaching-kids-to-code-biology-not-just-software/ ">The explosion of synthetic biology in the past decade has already churned out results that thrilled both scientists and corporations.
Back in 2003, Kiesling published one of the earliest proof-of-concept studies demonstrating the power of the approach. He focused on a chemical called artemisinin, a powerful anti-malaria drug extracted from sweet wormwood that’s often the last line of defense against the disease.
Yet despite numerous attempts at cultivating the plant, yields remain extremely low.
Kiesling realized that synthetic biology offered a way to bypass the harvesting process altogether. By introducing the right genes into bacteria cells, he reasoned, the cells could turn into artemisinin-manufacturing machines, thus providing an abundant new source for the drug.
Getting there was tough. The team had to build an entirely new metabolic pathway into the cell, allowing it to process chemicals otherwise unknown to the cell.
Through trial-and-error, the team pasted together part of dozens of genes from several organisms into a custom DNA package. When they inserted the package into E. Coli, a bacteria commonly used in the lab to produce chemicals, it created a new pathway in the bacteria that allowed it to secrete artemisinin.
With more tinkering to increase efficacy, Kiesling and his team were able to bring up production by a factor of a million and reduce the drug’s price more than 10-fold.
Artemisinin was only the first step in a much larger program. The drug is a hydrocarbon, which belongs to a family of molecules often used to make biofuels. So why not use the same process to manufacture biofuels? By swapping out genes used to make artemisinin with those coding biofuel hydrocarbons, the team has already engineered multiple microbes capable of converting sugar to fuel.
http://i1.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/is-the-world-ready-for-synthetic-life-7.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="is-the-world-ready-for-synthetic-life-7" data-recalc-dims="1" /> Agriculture is another field poised to benefit from synthetic biology. Theoretically, we could take genes used to fix nitrogen from bacteria, put it into cells from our crops to completely alter their natural growth process. With the right combination of genes, we may be able to grow nutrition-packed crops — directed by an artificial genome — that require less water, land, energy and fertilizers.
Synthetic biology may even be used to produce completely new foods, such as flavorings created through fermentation with engineered yeast, or http://singularityhub.com/2014/07/21/biohackers-make-lab-grown-vegan-cheese-by-milking-genetically-modified-yeast-cells/ ">vegan cheeses and other animal-free milk products.
“We need to reduce carbon emissions and toxic inputs, use less land and water, combat pests, and increase soil fertility,” http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/09/beyond-gmos-the-rise-of-synthetic-biology/380770/ ">says Dr. Pamela Ronald, a professor at UC Davis. Synthetic biology may give us the tools to get there.
Practical applications aside, one of the ultimate goals of synthetic biology is to create a synthetic organism made exclusively from custom-designed DNA.
The main roadblock right now is technological. DNA synthesis is currently expensive, slow and prone to errors. Most existing techniques can only make DNA strands that are roughly 200 letters long, whereas genes are usually over ten times as long. The human genome contains roughly 20,000 genes that make proteins.
That said, costs for DNA synthesis have been rapidly dropping over the past decade.
https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/should-we-synthesise-human-genome ">According to Dr. Drew Endy, a geneticist at Stanford University, the cost of sequencing an individual letter has plummeted from $4 in 2003 to a mere 3 cents now. The estimated cost of printing all 3 billion letters of the human genome at the moment is a staggering $90 million, although that is expected to drop to $100,000 within 20 years if the trend continues.
http://singularityhub.com/2014/02/02/illumina-claims-new-sequencer-transcribes-18000-genomes-per-year-at-1000-each/ ">http://i2.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/is-the-world-ready-for-synthetic-life-8.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="is-the-world-ready-for-synthetic-life-8" data-recalc-dims="1" />An increasingly reasonable price tag has already opened doors to whole-genome synthesis.
Back in the 90s, Craig Venter, best known for his leading role in sequencing the human genome, began investigating the minimal set of genes required to make life. Together with colleagues at the Institute for Genomic Research, Venter removed genes from a bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium to identify those critical to life.
In 2008, Venter pieced together these “essential genes” and built the entire new “minimal” genome from a soup of chemicals using DNA synthesis.
Several years later, Venter transplanted the artificial genome into a second bacterium. http://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/328/5981/958.full.pdf?version=meter%20at%202&module=meter-Links&pgtype=article&contentId=&mediaId=&referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2016%2F05%2F14%2Fscience%2Fsynthetic-human-genome.html%3F_r%3D1&priority=true&action=click&contentCollection=meter-links-click ">The genes took over and “rebooted” the cell, allowing it to grow and self-replicate — the first living organism with a completely synthetic genome.
From Bacteria to Human
The new venture, if funded, would replicate Venter’s experiments using our own genome. Given that the human genome is nearly 5,000 times larger than Venter’s bacterium, it’s hard to say just how much more difficult the synthesis might be.
Even if that goal fails, however, the field is still bound to take a quantum leap forward. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/14/science/synthetic-human-genome.html?_r=1 ">According to Dr. George Church, a leading geneticist at Harvard Medical School, the project could generate technological advances that improve our general ability to synthesize long strings of DNA — regardless of origin.
In fact, Church stressed that the project’s main goal is advancing technology.
But many are skeptical. According to Endy, who was invited to the meeting but decided to bow out, the project was originally named “HGP2: The Human Genome Synthesis Project,” and its primary goal was “to synthesize a complete human genome in a cell line within a period of 10 years.”
It’s perhaps not a surprise that news of the meeting caused a stir.
Regardless of its actual goals, the project raises the prospect of building custom-designed humans, or even semi-humans who have computers as parents.
The associated risks are easy to imagine and undoubtedly terrifying: how safe is it to directly manipulate or build life? How likely are accidents that unleash new organisms on an unprepared world? Who owns and has access to the technology? Would it breed new discrimination or further separate the 1% from the 99%?
“You can’t possibly begin to do something like this if you don’t have a value system in place that allows you to map concepts of ethics, beauty, and aesthetics onto our own existence,” http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/09/28/a-life-of-its-own ">says Endy.
“Given that human genome synthesis is a technology that can completely redefine the core of what now joins all of humanity together as a species, we argue that discussions of making such capacities real…should not take place without open and advance consideration of whether it is morally right to proceed,” he https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/should-we-synthesise-human-genome ">said.
Image Credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock.com
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE: http://www.wired.com/2016/05/the-end-of-code/ ">Soon We Won’t Program Computers. We’ll Train Them Like Dogs
Jason Tanz | WIRED
"Whether you’re a member of the coding elite or someone who barely feels competent to futz with the settings on your phone—don’t get used to it. Our machines are starting to speak a different language now, one that even the best coders can’t fully understand...The neural network’s operations are largely opaque and inscrutable. It is, in other words, a black box. And as these black boxes assume responsibility for more and more of our daily digital tasks, they are not only going to change our relationship to technology—they are going to change how we think about ourselves, our world, and our place within it."
SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY: https://cosmosmagazine.com/society/should-we-synthesise-human-genome?version=meter+at+7&module=meter-Links&pgtype=article&contentId=&mediaId=&referrer=&priority=true&action=click&contentCollection=meter-links-click ">Should We Synthesise a Human Genome?
Drew Endy and Laurie Zoloth | Cosmos Magazine
"In a world where human reproduction has already become a competitive marketplace, with eggs, sperm and embryos carrying a price, it is easy to make up far stranger uses of human genome synthesis capacities...Given that human genome synthesis is a technology that can completely redefine the core of what now joins all of humanity together as a species, we argue that discussions of making such capacities real, like today’s Harvard conference, should not take place without open and advance consideration of whether it is morally right to proceed."
VIRTUAL REALITY: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/jaron-lanier-virtual-reality-owes-a-lot-to-the-air-guitar ">Virtual Reality Owes a Lot to the Air Guitar
Meghan Neal | Motherboard
" 'If you think about technology as a musical instrument,' Jaron Lanier said, 'you start to think of technology as something that’s all about human expression and human connection and making things more beautiful and more meaningful, and filling the world with flavor.' Ironically, we now use the term [virtual reality] to refer to anything viewed in a headset like Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear, which is usually a solitary experiences. But 'originally, [the definition of VR] was the social or multi-user version of virtual worlds,' Lanier said. 'I know that because I made it up.' "
ETHICS: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/06/theres-no-such-thing-as-free-will/480750/ ">There’s No Such Thing as Free Will
Stephen Cave | The Atlantic
"Determinism, to one degree or another, is gaining popular currency. The skeptics are in ascendance. This development raises uncomfortable—and increasingly nontheoretical—questions: If moral responsibility depends on faith in our own agency, then as belief in determinism spreads, will we become morally irresponsible? And if we increasingly see belief in free will as a delusion, what will happen to all those institutions that are based on it?"
TRANSPORTATION: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-our-bodies-handle-the-hyperloop/ ">Can Our Bodies Handle the Hyperloop?
Nsikan Akpan | Scientific American
"Extreme speed isn’t the ticket to Puke City. It’s acceleration that produces nausea. Hyperloop wants to mimic the experience of an airliner by only inducing an extra 0.1 to 0.3 Gs when the pod starts and stops. The required acceleration would span about two minutes. Both Hyperloop One and their competitor Hyperloop Transportation Technologies say their final pods would http://venturebeat.com/2016/05/10/hyperloop-technologies-raises-80m-for-friction-free-trains-that-go-760-mph/ ">slow down for sharp turns, but by how much remains an open question. The pods might be propelled by magnetic levitation—the same technology used for bullet trains."
Image credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
Given how much they can actually do, computers have a surprisingly simple basis. Indeed, the logic they use has worked so well that we have even started to think of them as analogous to the human brain. Current computers basically use two basic values — 0 (false) and 1 (true) — and apply simple operations like “and”, “or” and “not” to compute with them. These operations can be combined and scaled up to represent virtually any computation.
This “binary "or "Boolean” logic was introduced by http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Biographies/Boole.html ">George Boole in 1854 to describe what he called “the laws of thought.” But the brain is far from a binary logic device. And while programs such as the https://theconversation.com/after-years-of-conflict-huge-project-could-help-scientists-decipher-the-brain-42581 ">Human Brain Project seek to model the brain using computers, the notion of what computers are is also constantly changing.
So will we ever be able to model something as complex as the human brain using computers? After all, biological systems use symmetry and interaction to do things that even the most powerful computers cannot do — like surviving, adapting and reproducing. This is one reason why binary logic often falls short of describing how living things or human intelligence work. But http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/roypta/373/2046/20140223.full.pdf ">our new research suggests there are alternatives: by using the mathematics that describe biological networks in the computers of the future, we may be able to make them more complex and similar to living systems like the brain.
Living organisms do not live in a world of zeroes and ones. And if binary logic doesn’t naturally describe their activity, what kind of mathematics does? I was involved in an international project which studied whether mathematical structures called “https://plus.maths.org/content/os/issue41/features/elwes/index ">Simple Non-Abelian Groups“ (SNAGs) may describe complex processes in living cells. SNAGs are commonly in mathematics and physics, and are based on the principles of symmetry and interaction. SNAGs offer a potentially powerful alternative to binary logic for computation.
There are infinitely many kinds of SNAGs. They were conjured by the brilliant 19th-century French mathematician http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/history/Biographies/Galois.html ">Évariste Galois, who tragically died aged 20 in a fatal duel over a romantic interest. Indeed, he wrote much of his ground-breaking theory during a feverish night before the duel.
The smallest SNAG — A5 — describes the symmetries of two beautiful 3D shapes known since the time of the ancient Greeks: the icosahedron (made of 20 triangles) and the dodecahedron (made of 12 pentagons). SNAGs can be thought of as the “multiplication tables” of how symmetries interact, rather than for how to multiply numbers.
http://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Dodecahedron.gif?w=1220&ssl=1 " data-recalc-dims="1" />http://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e2/Icosahedron.gif?w=1220&ssl=1 " data-recalc-dims="1" />
Dodecahedron and Icosahedron (Platonic Solids): 3D shapes with SNAG symmetry
Unlike the ones and zeros used in binary logic with just two values, the SNAG for each of these shapes have 60 values — or “symmetries.” These symmetries operate like rotations that can be combined. Performing a rotation and following it with a second can have the same effect as another kind of rotation, giving a kind of “multiplication table” for these 60 symmetries. For example, if you rotate the icosahedron (the figure below) five times by 72 degrees clockwise around the axis through its centre and any vertex (corner) it will get back to the starting configuration.
The structure of SNAGs is a natural kind of basis for computation that is http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0019995866902294/part/first-page-pdf ">just as powerful as binary logic, but presents a very different view about which computations are easy. To compute with SNAGs, nature (or humans or future computers) can use sequences of SNAG symmetries combined according to the rules. Patterns of events and interactions determine which symmetries occur in the sequence’s variable positions.
Symmetries in nature
We have http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/roypta/373/2046/20140223.full.pdf ">for the first time shown that there are SNAGs hidden in common biological networks. To do this, we analyzed the internal workings of cells (their gene regulation and metabolism) using mathematics, computers and models from systems biology. We found that SNAG symmetries accurately describe potential activities in the genetic regulatory network that controls a cell’s response to certain kinds of stress — such as radiation and DNA damage. This may be hugely important as it means SNAGs can describe cellular processes intimately involved in self-repair, “cell suicide,” and cancer.
The specific SNAG involved in this gene network is A5. The 60 symmetries in this case are the result of particular sequences of manipulations by the cell’s genetic regulatory network to transform ensembles of proteins into other forms. For example, when a set of five concentration levels of proteins is manipulated, it can be transformed to another set. When this is done many times, it can break some of the proteins down, join some together or synthesize new types of proteins. But after a specific number of manipulations the original five concentration levels of proteins will eventually return.
It doesn’t stop at cellular damage control processes. We have also shown mathematically that nearly all biological reaction networks must have http://www.biomicsproject.eu/file-repository/category/11-public-files-deliverables?download=264:d3-1-2-modelling-methods-for-interaction-computing.pdf#page=24 ">numerous embedded SNAG components. However, lab work is still needed to explain how and to what extent cells exploit SNAGs in their activity.
Computation with SNAGs has never yet been exploited in conventional computers, but we are hoping to use it. In the future, new kinds of computers and software systems may deploy resources the way some living organisms do, in robust adaptive responses. Driven by interaction with their environment, including human users, they could grow new structures, divide up tasks among different types of computational “cells” such as hardware units or software processes, allow old structures to wither and be reabsorbed if unused.
Understanding how living things and brains use interaction-based computations, which are all around us, may radically reshape not only our computers and the internet, but the existing models of the brain and living organisms. SNAG-based computations may finally help us build better and more predictive working models of cells and of the brain. But we have only sighted the first examples, and so have a long way to go. After all, http://shakespeare.mit.edu/hamlet/full.html ">as Shakespeare and this discovery of SNAG-computation in cells remind us: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
http://i1.wp.com/counter.theconversation.edu.au/content/59483/count.gif?resize=1%2C1&ssl=1 " alt="The Conversation" data-recalc-dims="1" />http://theconversation.com/profiles/chrystopher-nehaniv-266957 ">Chrystopher Nehaniv, Professor of Mathematical and Evolutionary Computer Science, http://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-hertfordshire ">University of Hertfordshire
This article was originally published on http://theconversation.com ">The Conversation. Read the https://theconversation.com/how-the-hidden-mathematics-of-living-cells-could-help-us-decipher-the-brain-59483 ">original article.
Banner image courtesy of http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock.com.
“I can’t wait to see the art that people make with this.”
Those were the first words from my friend Ryan after spending ten minutes in virtual reality. He’d just tried Tilt Brush, an incredible experience which allows the user to paint in three dimensions. Tilt Brush is a deeply meditative and powerful experience, allowing us to turn the space around us into glowing and shimmering works of art.
And it’s not just for tech obsessed uber nerds like me—Ryan is normally the first one to push back when I go on grandiose rants about the future of technology.
This time was different though—this time he got it.
A funny thing happens the first time someone gets VR. Their eyes glaze over and they start excitedly spewing out ideas for http://singularityhub.com/future-of-virtual-reality/ ">the future of VR. If they’re a musician—it’s VR concerts where you watch your favorite band playing live. For sports fans—http://singularityhub.com/2015/08/19/how-you-watch-sports-is-about-to-ch ">it’s courtside seats at the NBA finals. And for gamers, well that’s obvious. We finally get to step into the game.
The Face of the Devil
As excited as I am about the future of VR, it also absolutely terrifies me. It scares me for the same reason it thrills me—its power to create deep and intense emotional experiences.
“I’ve just seen the face of the devil.”
Those were the first words my friend said after taking off the Vive. Now, this friend is no luddite—she’s a gamer. In fact, she told me about how she used to be addicted to a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game, http://singularityhub.com/2015/12/24/sci-fi-short-film-uncanny-valley-paints-a-dark-future-for-virtual-reality/ ">losing days and weeks at a time to the virtual world.
“This is going to swallow people up whole and never let them go.” That was her next prediction for VR.
Virtual reality, by its very nature, has a unique hold over us because it can draw us into any world and show us any scene. When you create a movie or a song, you are capturing part of a viewer’s sensory experience. But when you create VR, you cut them off from the real world and draw them into a universe of your own creation.
And as everyone’s favorite philosopher/superhero Peter Parker learned from his uncle, with great power comes great responsibility.
With Great Power...
Every aspect of virtual reality that makes it a potential force for positive change has a flip side. And one thing we’ve unfortunately learned from the internet is that if a technology can be used for something, it will be.
Corporations will create vacuous virtual reality skinner boxes which suck us up and don’t let us go. Fearmongers and hate groups will create lifelike simulations showing their worst predictions coming to life.
And even those with the best intentions will see their creations twisted and distorted, making it all the more critical that we design VR experiences with both intentionality and empathy.
Now let me be perfectly clear.
Virtual reality is a stunningly exciting technology, and I wholeheartedly believe that it will make us happier, smarter and more connected with others around the world. This piece is not written as a prophecy of gloom and doom, the goal is to think about the potential positive and negative applications of what we’re building and nudge it just a little bit towards the positive.
We’re going to examine three specific axes on which VR creators will be forced to make a choice.
- Do you want your content to create empathy and drive human connection, or will you build experiences that spread hate and fear?
- Does your experience empower the user with useful information and unique experiences or exploit them for their cash and their data?
- Does your game authentically create a fun and engaging experience, or are you slapping a coat of paint on some 3D models and using loopholes in human psychology to keep people sucked in.
It’s interesting to note that these three areas can roughly be categorized into different ways that VR is used and the choices that specific experience creators must make.
http://i0.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/virtual-reality-unleash-global-workforce-13.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="virtual-reality-unleash-global-workforce-13" data-recalc-dims="1" />Empathy vs. Fear: VR Storytelling and Documentaries
The Good: Can be used to make us feel connection with others and harness the power of presence in VR to allow for unparalleled understanding of others.
The Bad: Hateful and fearful messages will be incredibly powerful in VR. Imagine showing a simulated terror attack before a vote on allowing a mosque to be built. The sheer embodiment of VR means driving fear and paranoia is far easier than other disciplines.
The Ugly: We can’t back away from telling hard stories in VR and some experiences will be unpleasant or disturbing. It’ll be up to the content creators and the individuals to draw boundaries.
The Bottom Line: VR storytelling is a powerful tool and like any sort of media, creators should be mindful what they are making. A more powerful medium does not mean that we should hold ourselves back or censor ourselves. But it does require an extra level of thought into the potential outcomes of what we are making.
http://i0.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/virtual-reality-unleash-global-workforce-11.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="virtual-reality-unleash-global-workforce-11" data-recalc-dims="1" />Empower vs. Exploit: VR Marketing and Professional / Educational Applications
The Good: VR can create rich and powerful experiences that allow companies to create value for their potential customers in an entirely authentic and open way.
The Bad: VR marketers and salespeople can exploit our innate insecurities and worries and drive us towards frivolous purchases and poor self esteem.
The Ugly: The internet runs on data and VR produces exponentially more than web browsing. Our data will be captured, bought and sold. And to a certain extent, there’s nothing wrong with that. However, there does need to be stringent consumer protection to avoid abuse.
The Bottom Line: Within five to ten years, we’ll be interacting with brands through VR / AR for most of our major purchasing decisions. If you’re looking to capitalize on that, focus on authenticity and adding value rather than exploiting your buyer’s insecurities.
http://i2.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/alice-immersion-virtual-reality.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="alice-immersion-virtual-reality" data-recalc-dims="1" />Entertain vs. Enslave: Games
The Good: VR games are going to be incredibly fun, entertaining and deep. Games are already incredible art, and VR is going to massively increase their importance in popular culture and our day-to-day lives.
The Bad: It is incredibly easy to create soulless and empty games which draw the user in by exploiting a loophole in brain psychology known as a https://www.verywell.com/what-is-a-skinner-box-2795875 ">skinner box. I don’t want to name any names, but gaining users for these games can be as easy as taking CANDY from a baby, allowing you to CRUSH your competition. In VR, these skinner boxes can be wrapped in colorful glowing decorations and create a world which is a feast for the eyes, heroin for the brain and containing no actual gameplay, story, fun or any of the normal trappings of a game.
The Ugly: Obviously this is a fine line. Some games are thinly veiled cash grabs. But the same underlying mechanics are used throughout much of gaming for much positive benefit.
The Bottom Line: Are you creating something that makes people’s lives more fun or are you trying to maximize microtransactions? It’s already true in mobile gaming, and it’s about to be 10x as big a question in VR.
Just as mobile has come to touch virtually every aspect of our lives over the past decade, expect virtual and augmented reality to do the same. VR is going to reshape how we learn, how we play, how we socialize and how we buy.
There are no easy answers for any of these questions. The debates here range from artistic liberty to acceptable business practices to the factors that make an experience valuable. It's something that VR developers, storytellers, investors and consumers will have to answer together.
The best we can do for now is realize the immense power that technology and media have over our stories, businesses and games—and think about the subtle choices we all make that shape these systems.
Images courtesy of the http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock.com
Visit Singularity Hub for the latest from the frontiers of manufacturing and technology as we bring you coverage of https://exponential.singularityu.org/manufacturing/?utm_source=hub&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=may18&utm_campaign=xmancoverage ">Singularity University's Exponential Manufacturing conference. Watch all the talks from the https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORJ23wTcZ20/ ">first day here and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCwbRSs9X3k/ ">second day here.
Take a moment and look at the objects surrounding you.
Maybe you’re reading this article on your computer or cell phone, sitting in a chair, standing at your desk, or riding the local transit system. You may be drinking coffee from your favorite mug or opening the wrapper of your beloved midday snack.
At any moment, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of objects surrounding you that all came from a manufacturing facility. Perhaps more than any other, the force and power of this industry is evident everywhere you look.
Last week at Singularity University’s first-ever https://exponential.singularityu.org/manufacturing/?utm_source=hub&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=may18&utm_campaign=xmancoverage ">Exponential Manufacturing conference in Boston, we heard from over https://exponential.singularityu.org/manufacturing/may-2016-presenters/ " target="_blank">50 industry experts across diverse disciplines within manufacturing about the latest technologies and tactics.
In the wake of so much information, common lingering questions include, “How does this all come together?” and “What does it mean?”
We looked at the big picture and distilled the 2016 Exponential Manufacturing conference into the four big themes we saw emerge during the event.
But as Aristotle said centuries ago, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” All four factors are most potent when they converge. This convergence is shaping the next generation of factories, startups, and technologies in manufacturing.
1. The personal factory is here
Digital technologies have been knocking down barriers to entry in tech and digital media—and now, we’re witnessing a similar effect for the makers of physical stuff. New low-cost, digitally driven manufacturing devices are enabling people to do tasks that were traditionally only possible in expensive facilities and factories.
Crowdfunding platforms are fueling the entry of these low-cost machines, like the http://makerarm.com/ " target="_blank">Makerarm, which raised nearly half a million dollars on Kickstarter, and is the first complete digital fabrication robotic arm that mounts to a desktop.
Combined with a desktop CNC mill like the https://othermachine.co/othermill/features/ " target="_blank">Othermill, a pair of 3D printers (one for quick prototyping and another for finish work), a laser cutter, and a router—and what you’ve got is an “in-home” factory capable of building factory-quality products.
http://singularityhub.com/2016/03/30/what-happens-to-factories-if-you-can-manufacture-in-your-home/ " target="_blank">Danielle Applestone, CEO of Other Machine Co. said during her talk:
“It used to be that you had to go to a factory to build high precision metal things in whatever material—this is no longer true. You can do whatever you want yourself without interfacing with the factory. We can also build electronics in our garages. We can use the most cutting-edge chip sets, shipped directly to us through Alibaba or DigiKey right to our house, build products, put our firmware on them and deliver them to customers without ever having to ask permission.”
Further conference reading:
- http://singularityhub.com/2016/05/12/the-personal-factory-is-here-and-it-will-bring-a-wild-new-era-of-invention/ " target="_blank">The Personal Factory Is Here—and It Will Bring a Wild New Era of Invention
- http://singularityhub.com/2016/05/13/how-the-national-science-foundation-is-catalyzing-the-future-of-manufacturing/ " target="_blank">How the National Science Foundation Is Catalyzing the Future of Manufacturing
2. It’s not about human vs. machine, it’s about human + machine
The winning equation for successful factories will be combining advanced AI with new business processes and models.
For decades, employees and machines have largely worked independently throughout the production process. Industrial robots were simply too dangerous to be near humans. Now, advances in AI and robotics are opening new possibilities for intelligent and efficient human-machine collaboration on factory floors.
http://singularityhub.com/2016/05/04/meet-your-new-industrial-robot-coworkers/ " target="_blank">Manufacturing robots are finally becoming more flexible, approachable coworkers who are safer to work with.
A common example, Rethink Robotics’ http://www.rethinkrobotics.com/baxter/ " target="_blank">Baxter robot, is a factory-ready robot that has eyes to show its human counterparts on the assembly line where it’s looking, and therefore, which task it’s going to do next. Add in the fact Baxter can be programmed just by moving its arms—and you have friendlier, more adaptable bot.
Robotics expert and director of http://www.creativemachineslab.com/ " target="_blank">Columbia University’s Creative Machine Labs, Hod Lipson, projected how these advances in AI and robotics will converge to create fully resilient and adaptive cloud-connected factories in the future.
Lipson says, “What one robot knows, it will share with all of the other robots. Manufacturing robots doing inspection and working in factories will gain the experience of a thousand lifetimes, and this accelerated learning will compound all the previous trends.”
Further conference reading:
- http://singularityhub.com/2016/05/11/five-exponential-trends-are-accelerating-robotics/ " target="_blank">These Five Exponential Trends Are Accelerating Robotics
3. Product innovation has been turned upside down—but don’t overlook the expertise of the big guys
Not only is access to new technologies allowing tinkerers and inventors to turn their garage into a factory, startups in manufacturing have triggered a revolution in how products are created—and massively accelerated the timeline from idea to market.
When you combine these two forces, startups are flipping traditional manufacturing principles on their head. For example, rather than potentially wasting millions of dollars in market research to create “the perfect” product, they’re letting their customers play a key role in the actual product development early on.
https://exponential.singularityu.org/manufacturing/presenters/shree-bose/ " target="_blank">Shree Bose took this route with http://playpiper.com/ " target="_blank">Piper, a computer kit for kids to learn engineering through the game Minecraft and the grand prize winner of Google’s Global Science Fair. Bose said she only built one scrappy prototype of Piper before beginning the Kickstarter campaign. Behind the scenes, she decided that unless the campaign broke their fundraising goal by $100,000, there wasn’t enough demand, and therefore, they weren’t going to move forward with the product.
And the biggest players are taking note of this scrappy approach too.
https://exponential.singularityu.org/manufacturing/presenters/kevin-nolan/ " target="_blank">Kevin Nolan, CTO of GE Appliances, demonstrated a successful case study of how a large company can adapt these startup principles to develop new products and showcased the work of https://firstbuild.com/ " target="_blank">FirstBuild, GE’s new product innovation group.
Large companies can reduce risk by letting their community validate an idea first and then staying as lean as possible during product development. Nolan says, “As we try to do this with zero capital investment, lean is our best friend. We don't make parts until we get orders or we have a purpose for the product.”
https://exponential.singularityu.org/manufacturing/presenters/dale-doughetry/ " target="_blank">Dale Doughtry, the founder and CEO of http://makermedia.com/ " target="_blank">Maker Media, reminded us that it’s not just about companies taking lessons from startups. Startups can tap into the large body of existing knowledge from mass-manufacturers—especially when it comes to scaling a product for the crowds.
Further conference reading:
- http://singularityhub.com/2016/05/15/5-lessons-on-scrappy-innovation-for-big-companies/ " target="_blank">5 Great Lessons on Scrappy Innovation for Big Companies Like GE
4. Organizational agility is an imperative
https://exponential.singularityu.org/manufacturing/presenters/peter-diamandis/ " target="_blank">Peter Diamandis, co-founder and executive chairman of Singularity University and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation, kicked off the conference by citing a study from Yale University, which said:
“If you started a company in the 1920s you had 67 years on the S&P 500 before you were disrupted. Today, if you get on the S&P 500 you’re on it for 15 years.”
Diamandis then hit the audience with three heavy wakeup calls.
- If you thought the rate of change was fast, you haven’t seen anything yet.
- You can either surf on top of this tsunami or get crushed by it.
- The difference between disruptive stress and distributive opportunity is up to you—and this is one reason why you need to care.
Manufacturing giants must welcome this new fast and agile ecosystem or, as Diamandis says, they’ll get “Kodaked.”
But becoming an agile organization is extremely hard work and counterintuitive to how most companies behave and operate. Further, some parts of the economy are fragmenting such that large companies in those sectors are on shaky ground.
https://exponential.singularityu.org/manufacturing/presenters/john-hagel/ " target="_blank">John Hagel, the co-chairman of http://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/center-for-the-edge/solutions/about-center-for-the-edge.html " target="_blank">Deloitte’s Center for the Edge spoke on the http://dupress.com/articles/heros-journey-landscape-future/?id=us:2el:3dc:dup826:eng:tmt::dcpromo " target="_blank">decades-long economic trend his group calls the “big shift.” Hagel said the economy is splitting into two parts—products and services are fragmenting into smaller and smaller pieces, while the platforms knitting them together are getting bigger.
This need for organizational agility is one factor that will force large companies to become more innovative in both their operations, management, and strategy.
Speaker Sandy Pentland, director of the http://hd.media.mit.edu/ " target="_blank">Human Dynamics Lab at the MIT Media Lab, showed how big data can help large companies better understand the behavior and communication of their employees and eliminate outdated business practices.
Pentland says, “A lot of the classic arguments we have about why organizations are so bad get broken down by having a little bit of data about how acting like a normal human is actually good for the organization. The bosses, or bean-counters, won't believe this until you show them data. So, we're showing them data.”
Further conference reading:
- http://singularityhub.com/2016/05/16/mits-sandy-pentland-big-data-can-be-a-profoundly-humanizing-force-in-industry/ " target="_blank">MIT’s Sandy Pentland: Big Data Can Be a Profoundly Humanizing Force in Industry
- http://singularityhub.com/2016/05/17/a-big-shift-is-coming-and-it-could-uber-ize-entire-industries/ " target="_blank">A Big Shift Is Coming, and It Could Uber-ize Entire Industries
Image credit: Shutterstock and Singularity University
Today sees the un-stealthing of a new company called http://ot.to/ ">Otto which plans to build self-driving systems for long haul trucks. The company has been formed by a skilled team, including former members of Google’s car team and people I know well. You can read https://blog.ot.to/introducing-otto-the-startup-rethinking-commercial-trucking-cfdc502ef452#.x7cd2nyqk ">their opening blog post here.
My entire focus, and the focus of most people in this space, has been on cars, particularly cars capable of unmanned operation and door-to-door service. Most of those not working on that have had their focus on highway cars and autopilots. The highway is a much simpler environment, so much easier to engineer for, but it operates at higher speeds so the cost of accidents is worse.
That goes doubly true for trucks that are fast, big and massive. At the same time, 99% of truck driving is actually very straightforward — stay in a highway lane, usually the slow one, with no fancy moving about.
Some companies have done exploration of truck automation. Daimler/Freightliner has been testing trucks in Nevada. Volvo (trucks and cars together) has done truck and platooning experiments, notably the Sartre project some years ago. A recent group of European researchers did a truck demonstration in the Netherlands, leading up to the http://english.eu2016.nl/documents/publications/2016/04/14/declaration-of-amsterdam ">Declaration of Amsterdam which got government ministers to declare a plan to modify regulations to make self-driving systems legal in Europe. Local company http://peloton-tech.com/ ">Peloton has gone after the more tractable problem of two-truck platoons with a driver in each truck, aimed primarily at fuel savings and some safety increases.
While trucks are big and thus riskier to automate, they are also risky for humans to drive. Even though truck drivers are professionals who drive all day, there are still around 4,000 killed every year in the USA in truck accidents. More than half of those are truck drivers, but a large number of ordinary road users are also killed. Done well, self-driving trucks will reduce this toll. Just as with cars, companies will not release the systems until they believe they can match and beat the safety record of human drivers.
Self-driving trucks don’t change the way we move, but they will have a big economic effect on trucking. Driver pay accounts for about 25-35% of the cost of truck operation, but in fact early self-driving won’t take away jobs because there is a serious shortage of truck drivers in the market — companies can’t hire enough of them at the wages they currently pay. It is claimed that there are 50,000 job openings unfilled at the present time. Truck driving is grueling work, sometimes mind-numbing, and it takes the long haul driver away from home and family for over a week on every long-haul run. It’s not very exciting work, and it involves long days (11 hours is the legal limit) and a lot of eating and sleeping in truck stops or the cabin of the truck.
http://xfin.co/newsmay17 ">http://i2.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/SU-Hub-XFin-Article-Banner-750x100_256.gif?resize=750%2C100 " alt="SU-Hub-XFin-Article-Banner-750x100_256" data-recalc-dims="1" />
Average pay is about 36 cents/mile for a solo trucker on a common route. Alternately, loads that need to move fast are driven by a team of two. They split 50 cents/mile between them, but can drive 22 hours/day — one driver sleeps in the back while the first one takes the wheel. You make less per mile per driver, but you are also paid for the miles you are sleeping or relaxing.
A likely first course is trucks that keep their solo driver who drives up to 11 hours — probably less — and have the software drive the rest. Nonstop team driving speed with just one person. Indeed, that person might be an owner-operator who is paying for the system as a businessperson, rather than a person losing a job to automation. The human would drive the more complex parts of the route (including heavy traffic) while the system can easily handle the long nights and sparse heartland interstate roads.
The economics get interesting when you can do things that are expensive for human drivers and teams. Aside from operating 22 or more hours/day at a lower cost, certain routes will become practical that were not economic with human drivers, opening up new routes and business models.
Computer driven trucks will drive more regularly than humans, effectively driving in “hypermile” style as much as they can. That should save fuel. In addition, while I would not do it at first, the platooning experimented with by Peloton and Sartre does result in fuel savings. Also interesting is the ability to convert trucks to natural gas, which is domestic and burns cleaner (though it still emits CO2.) Automated trucks on fixed routes might be more willing to make this conversion.
There is strong potential to reduce the damage to roads (and thus the cost of maintaining them, which is immense and seriously in arrears) thanks to the robotruck. That’s because heavy trucks and big buses cause almost all the road wear today. A surprising rule of thumb is that road damage goes up with the 4th power of the weight per axle. As such an 80,000lb truck with 34,000lb on two sets of 2 axles and 6,000lb on the front axle does around 2,000 times the road damage of a typical car!
http://i1.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/self-driving-truck-former-googlers-3.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="self-driving-truck-former-googlers-3" data-recalc-dims="1" />An interesting solution is now possible. With fully self-driving trucks (or platoons with nobody in the rear vehicle) you can have two half-weight trucks, which would do 1/8th the damage. 4 1/4 weight trucks would do roughly 1/16th the damage. This is a bit more expensive in fuel and truck wear, though you can get back some of it with platooning. The platoon can space out further on bridges to avoid stressing them.
Right now, trucks pay a higher tax for their high weight, but it’s not 2,000 times what the cars pay. Proper pricing of the externalities of road wear would cause smaller loads to be hauled and save the government a ton of money on road repair. (On the other hand, the standardized 40’ shipping container is so common and useful that there are other challenges here.)
The ability to send smaller loads will enable truck shipping to many destinations where it’s not that economic today. It will also make it easier for the truck to get a load “going back” because robots don’t mind waiting very much. Today, if a truck driver takes a load to a minor location, they may have a long wait before there is a load going back home, and human beings can’t wait quite so easily. (There is always a cost of keeping the tractor idle, but it’s less than the human cost.)
Most self-driving teams are working on cars. They do not seek to replace cab drivers, they seek to replace amateur drivers (i.e., you.) Of course, they will replace cab drivers, even if that is not the first goal. Cab driver is generally not thought of as a career or something people aspire to — it’s a low skill job people can do to quickly make modest wages. With Uber, people also like setting their own hours; it is a fantastic form of part-time work you can start and stop as you wish, minute by minute.
http://i2.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/self-driving-truck-former-googlers-4.jpg?resize=300%2C200 " alt="self-driving-truck-former-googlers-4" data-recalc-dims="1" />Truck driving is closer to a career, even though it is not a well-loved one for most. There are a bit over 3 million truck drivers in the USA. At first, this technology will not displace many workers, because of the driver shortage. For owner operators it will actually be a boon.
But it would be false to pretend that in the much longer term, this doesn’t reduce the number of people working as career truck drivers. This is one of many of the jobs today that will be modified or replaced by automation in the years to come, and there is no stopping it.
In addition to the jobs, https://medium.com/basic-income/self-driving-trucks-are-going-to-hit-us-like-a-human-driven-truck-b8507d9c5961#.ghnzyrf4e ">this article paints an more bleak picture concerning those who derive their income from truck drivers, such as Truck Stops, motels and even the towns around them.
Jobs vs. lives
All of this, however, must be put in contrast with the safety benefits. It will be hard to claim that society should work to preserve a job class which kills 4,000 people a year. Probably the only job which kills more is doctor, and they do that in the process of saving lives, not hauling cargo. While some jobs have higher death rates, I suspect only the military, police, doctors and drivers actually kill large numbers of people in the course of doing their jobs. In addition, those who kill while driving often suffer permanent mental scars.
While some will criticise the self-driving trucks as putting the public at risk, once they reach their safety goals, the self-driving trucks will be doing the reverse.
What about rail?
My first reaction looking into this was why don’t we use more rail? Rail is efficient and takes very little human labour per car. To get that efficiency, however, you can’t have service on demand from anywhere to anywhere — you need to group many cars all taking the same trip. In addition, intermodal switches (getting off the train and onto a local truck) are still slow and expensive. In the future, a good mix of rail and on-demand robotrucks combined with automated intermodal switching will provide the most efficient and quick answer for cargo.
This article was first published on Brad's blog. http://ideas.4brad.com/otto-and-self-driving-trucks-what-do-they-mean ">Go here to read the original article.
Author disclosure: While Brad has no formal relationship with Otto, an advisory role has been discussed which may introduce some bias.
You may also like the coverage in the http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/17/technology/want-to-buy-a-self-driving-car-trucks-may-come-first.html ">New York Times by John Markoff.
Interested in learning more about our economic finance? Join leading manufacturing experts at Singularity University and CNBC's http://xfin.co/footermay17 ">Exponential Finance conference June 7-8, 2016 in New York.
Image credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bK76W1kH4jA ">Otto/YouTube
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Who will rule the future economy—entrepreneurs or mega corporations? Will the economy fracture into smaller and smaller bits or centralize in a winner-take-all scenario? The answer, according to John Hagel, is it depends where you look.
Hagel is co-chairman of http://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/center-for-the-edge/solutions/about-center-for-the-edge.html ">Deloitte’s Center for the Edge. Speaking at https://exponential.singularityu.org/manufacturing/?utm_source=hub&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=may17&utm_campaign=xmancoverage ">Singularity University’s Exponential Manufacturing conference in Boston, Hagel outlined a powerful, http://dupress.com/articles/heros-journey-landscape-future/?id=us:2el:3dc:dup826:eng:tmt::dcpromo ">decades-long economic trend his group calls the “big shift.”
Hagel believes understanding the big shift is key to navigating an increasingly uncertain economy driven by digital technology, liberalization, and globalization. The question is less about whether the big shift is on and more about where it’s taking us. And according to Hagel, two competing visions vie for our economic future.
“There's one side of the debate which argues that the impact of all this digital technology is to fragment everything,” Hagel says. “We're all going to become free agents—independent contractors will loosely affiliate when we need to around specific projects. But basically, companies are dinosaurs. We're going to fragment down to the individual. The gig economy to the max. That's one side.”
Another view, Hagel says, suggests we’re moving toward a winner-take-all economy in which network effects enable a few organizations—the Googles or Facebooks of the world—to capture most of the wealth while everyone else is marginalized.
“You couldn’t have two more extreme positions,” Hagel said. “Which one is right?”
The Big Shift
The centralization of corporate power has a long history in pop culture. The early 1980s sci-fi classics Neuromancer and Bladerunner imagined corporate power run amok—a future in which sprawling, faceless corporations run the world.
It’s not hard to see why this vision hits a nerve.
The modern history of business is jam packed with legendary corporate giants. A little over a century ago it was US Steel, Standard Oil, General Electric, and JP Morgan. Today, it’s the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Exxon Mobil, and (still) GE.
But according to Hagel, as the world entered the digital era, something changed.
In the industrial past, big companies had the advantage. They owned the factors of production. This included capital equipment, like expensive industrial machinery and infrastructure. The more they produced, the more their costs were spread out. They gathered the right people and machines under one roof to make products.
To a point, it was simply much easier and more efficient to coordinate activity within one institution than across many institutions. Going big made sense.
In the digital economy, this rationale isn’t always as rock solid. Why? Computers and the internet enable the organization of thousands, even millions of small producers.
Further, the factors of production, once out of reach for entrepreneurs and small organizations, are becoming much more accessible. In the tech sector, anyone with the skills can write and sell a new app. Provided they have a computer and a connection, an app developer can make and sell a product in their pajamas at home.
“In digital media—everything from music to video to software—we're increasingly seeing dramatic fragmentation of product businesses because more and more people can participate at much smaller scale,” Hagel says.
But it doesn’t end there. Increasingly, you can also make quality physical products anywhere too. Digitization is pushing into areas like manufacturing.
For big production runs you still need traditional factories, but for product development? Not so much. These days, something like $20,000 gets you a desktop CNC machine, 3D printer, and router nearly as precise as anything in a big factory. Or you can go to a maker space and rent time on these machines. Even supercomputers (in the cloud) and other high-tech facilities are within reach.
“I don't need to have a chip fab facility. I can rent capacity in somebody else's fab facility if I've got an interesting chip design,” says Hagel. “The means of production are becoming more accessible and affordable to more and more people with creative new product ideas.”
Combine increasingly accessible production with digital platforms to organize small creators, and you get a new mode of economic organization.
This is the future, as Hagel sees it. On the one hand, the development and production of many (not all) goods and services will fragment. The gig economy to max. On the other hand, the businesses tying these fragments together will centralize further.
Producers will get smaller, while the companies uniting them get bigger.
A Gig Economy for Everything
You don’t need to go far for early examples of this concept. In recent years, there has been no end of hype (and sometimes controversy) about the sharing economy.
Tech companies are commanding valuations of tens of billions of dollars when they themselves don’t own much physical capital at all. Instead, they make software platforms to gather and organize entrepreneurs. Uber is for car owners; Airbnb for homeowners. No one buys a hotel chain or fleet of taxies to participate. They just need an apartment to rent, a car to drive, and a way to connect to customers.
These are the most well-worn examples, but they aren't the only ones.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/theres-an-uber-for-everything-now-1430845789 ">As a Wall Street Journal article put it last year, “There’s an Uber for everything now.” Personal valets, doctors that do house calls, laundry services. Some of these will survive, many won’t. But the core strategy isn’t going anywhere.
This is just one one type of platform. Another type, more specific to manufacturing, unites lots of players to accomplish a common goal none could complete alone.
In this area, China and India are leading the way, according to Hagel. He gives the example of apparel company Li & Fung, whose clients include Ann Taylor and Calvin Klein. Li & Fung orchestrates some 15,000 partners to take product orders from raw materials to production to global distribution—but they don’t do any of these things.
They’re the organizer; the platform allowing the players to collaborate.
Hagel calls these big organizers “scaleable pull” platforms. Instead of forecasting demand and pushing resources into production and distribution, scaleable pull platforms more flexibly respond to demand to pull all the bits and pieces together.
“When we talk about scalable pull platforms,” Hagel says, “we're talking about platforms that involve tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and in an increasing number of cases, millions of participants that can be drawn out, pulled out when needed…where needed, as needed.”
It Isn’t Either or—It’s Both and…
It’s tempting to go all in on one forecast or another when we see compelling forces pushing us in that direction. Hagel says it isn’t so much that big companies are going to go away; it’s just what they do best will change in a big way. And we aren’t all going to be solo entrepreneurs in a uniform gig economy (though many more will be). It's both.
We’ll see fragmentation and concentration, depending where we look. And critically, the two will happen in parallel—and reinforce and amplify each other.
“You wouldn't have [this] degree of fragmentation if there weren't these concentrated and consolidated businesses and services to support those fragmented businesses,” Hagel says.
The big shift will introduce new opportunities and challenges for both companies and creators. Companies need to take a serious look at the ground beneath their feet—if it's fragmenting, they'll need to quickly plot a new course or risk being upended. Individuals, meanwhile, will have unprecedented amounts of freedom and flexibility. And at the same time, the stability and security once provided by large organizations will be gone.
Even so, despite the challenges, Hagel is optimistic.
"Our belief is the big shift—for those who make the transition—opens up the possibility, for the first time, of a business world that is driven by increasing returns," Hagel says. "Where the more who participate and the more experience that's gathered, the more value gets created for everyone. That's a very different and very exciting business world, and I'm looking forward to being part of it."
Image credit: http://www.shutterstock.com ">Shutterstock
Visit Singularity Hub for the latest from the frontiers of manufacturing and technology as we bring you coverage of https://exponential.singularityu.org/manufacturing/?utm_source=hub&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=may16&utm_campaign=xmancoverage ">Singularity University's Exponential Manufacturing conference. Watch all the talks from the https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORJ23wTcZ20/ ">first day here and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCwbRSs9X3k/ ">second day here.
How many times have you read or heard the term “big data” in recent years? It’s a little like saying, “Yeah, well, the Internet,” around the turn of the century—although it was already happening, most of us had little idea just how big this thing was going to be a few years on. Similarly, big data is and will continue to be a very big deal.
Thanks to a rapidly growing proliferation of sensors, computing, and networks, we’re beginning to see our world digitally captured and quantified like never before. From http://solarindustrymag.com/online/issues/SI1501/FEAT_03_Analytics-And-Big-Data-Are-Changing-The-Energy-Market-Map.html " target="_blank">energy consumption to http://www.computerworld.com/article/3027117/big-data/big-datas-big-role-in-humanitarian-aid.html " target="_blank">understanding immigration trends, big data is transforming how we can see and understand the world and systems around us.
Sandy Pentland,http://www.forbes.com/pictures/lmm45emkh/6-alex-sandy-pentland-professor-mit/ " target="_blank"> one of Forbes’ seven most powerful data scientists in the world, is director of the http://hd.media.mit.edu/ " target="_blank">Human Dynamics Lab at the MIT Media Lab and has been leading the big data revolution for decades. Pentland’s work is helping build a society enabled by big data and showing how to scientifically understand human interaction.
In Pentland’s most recent book, http://www.amazon.com/Social-Physics-Networks-Make-Smarter/dp/0143126334?ie=UTF8&keywords=social%20physics&qid=1463171062&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1 " target="_blank">Social Physics: How Social Networks Can Make Us Smarter, he examines and answers big questions like, “How can we design organizations and governments that are cooperative, productive, and creative?”
http://hd.media.mit.edu/01.29.09_naturemag_secsig.pdf " target="_blank">Nature Magazine quoted Pentland a few years ago saying, “Human behavior is much more predictable than is generally thought.” And since then he’s been backing this up with more and more, well, data.
At the https://exponential.singularityu.org/manufacturing/?utm_source=hub&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=may13&utm_campaign=xmancoverage " target="_blank">2016 Exponential Manufacturing conference in Boston, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Sandy Pentland to learn more about his work.
A large focus of Pentland’s work is using big data to understand patterns of employee interaction and communication in organizations.
Though people are one of the most valuable assets in an organization, many companies are still approaching management with a 20th century mentality. And while building businesses and working with large organizations, Pentland saw the factor that was always messing things up was—the people.
“If people aren't interacting correctly and information isn’t spreading correctly, people make bad decisions,” Pentland says. “But we could do an order of magnitude better easily, and we've been able to show this just by making people more aware of their patterns of communication.”
So, even as many companies race to advance artificial intelligence, Pentland is looking at the whole equation, focusing his work on human-machine systems that enhance human intelligence and the ability for humans to make wiser decisions.
“What you're trying to do is make a human-machine symbiote, where the humans understand more about the network of interactions because of the computers, and the computers are able to understand more about how humans work, and therefore, work better with them,” Pentland explains. “I don't think of them as intelligent, self-aware computers. I think of them as social secretaries.”
One way he’s approaching this challenge is with a wearable sensor called the http://alumni.media.mit.edu/~tanzeem/shortcuts/workingpaper.pdf " target="_blank">sociometer, or “sociometric badge,” which is worn by employees to capture data on their physical interactions within a company. Pentland has found this data goes a long way in helping organizations mend their broken behaviors.
“A lot of the classic arguments we have about why organizations are so bad get broken down by having a little bit of data about how acting like a normal human is actually good for the organization. The bosses, or bean-counters, won't believe this until you show them data. So, we're showing them data,” says Pentland.
http://i0.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/05-09-16_vip-part-26.jpg?resize=1220%2C814 " alt="05-09-16_vip-part-26" srcset="http://i0.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/05-09-16_vip-part-26.jpg?resize=1440%2C961 1440w, http://i0.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/05-09-16_vip-part-26.jpg?resize=300%2C200 300w, http://i0.wp.com/singularityhub.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/05-09-16_vip-part-26.jpg?resize=400%2C267 400w" sizes="(max-width: 1220px) 100vw, 1220px" data-recalc-dims="1" />
Though this sort of big data application might sound a bit like “Big Brother” or like an over-mechanization of employees, its impact on people is actually quite humanizing.
“It's like anything,” says Pentland, “People need to understand what the data means, how people work, and then apply it intelligently. When computers were first used they were a nightmare, and then people figured out what they should and shouldn’t be used for.”
Pentland uses the example of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_management " target="_blank">Taylorism, a theory developed in the late 1800s outlining the scientific management of factory workers. It aimed to maximize efficiency and eliminate wasted time and started with the idea that you could time factory workers and determine which movements were most efficient.
“There was this idea of turning people into machines, and very quickly, people found out that this was stupid—not just because many people objected, but because people aren't machines. People wear out and they quit. But this doesn't mean you can't make jobs and offices that are more efficient for humans,” Pentland says.
In the case of big data, we can use it to understand what makes people most productive in the office. And from what we’ve learned, things like comfortable chairs and soft lighting all lend to increased productivity.
“You can abuse data, but by and large, these things sort themselves out.”
Though robots and machines have—and will continue to—transform 21st century companies, the conversation shouldn’t be about whether humans or machines will prevail. It should be about how they can best complement each other.
With technologies like big data and machine learning entering enterprise, we need to update the art of management, and once again, resist the urge to overly mechanize humans. Then we’ll see that both humans and machines are capable of much more when they work harmoniously together.
Image credit: http://www.shutterstock.com/index-in.mhtml " target="_blank">Shutterstock