When a major journal’s needs to not match the scientific community’s

 Rasur des Tages 02.01.09

Who governs science? | Stephen Curry
[Via Occam's corner | The Guardian]

Traditionally, science holds itself to account, primarily through internal systems of peer review. But the recent retraction of two papers on stem-cell research by the journal Nature highlights weaknesses in this self-regulatory framework that scientists need to address

To err is human, so why should science be any different? The frailties of science can be easy to overlook because it remains one of humankinds greatest cultural and intellectual achievements; working hand in hand with technology, it has transformed our understanding of the world and our capacity to shape it. But as any scientist will tell you, the daily grind of research is often laborious and repetitive and regularly punctuated by failure either through error or miscalculation, or when our cherished theories cannot withstand the pitiless exactitude of experiment. What keeps us going are the moments of revelation or insight that every now and then swell the heart and the head with a warm pulse of satisfaction. Those small victories are all the more important because science is an intensely competitive career; the endless struggles for funding or the space to publish in the most acclaimed journals, which have failure rates as high as 80 or 90%, means that there are demons of disappointment crouching in every laboratory.

The human side of science was thrown into harsh relief by news on the 5th of August of the suicide of Japanese stem cell researcher Yoshiki Sasai. Sasai was a senior coauthor on two papers published in January this year by the high-profile journal Nature that reported a remarkable breakthrough: the generation of stem-cells by subjecting mouse cells to mild stresses such as pressure or acidic conditions, a procedure dubbed stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP). But soon after publication the claims made in the papers came under intense scrutiny; there were concerns about reproducibility, a key test of any scientific report, and accusations of image manipulation and plagiarism. By the beginning of April an investigation by the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) where most of the work had been carried out found the lead author Haruko Obokata guilty of misconduct for having manipulated data with the intent to deceive. Sasai was cleared of misconduct but criticised in the investigation report for not properly checking the experimental data. On 2nd July both papers were formally retracted by Nature for reasons of plagiarism. A month later a serious and unfortunate incident became a desperate human tragedy when Sasai took his own life.

[More]

This all has to do with a series of papers on stem cells published by Nature that had to be retracted because apparently they were just wrong.

Nature is a journal presented as without peer for its impact and with a scarcity of pages to ensure that it has the pick of the best science. Getting published in Nearer can get a researcher tenure.

So, there is obviously an incentive to write the perfect Nature paper based on making up the data. Peer review is not supposed to replicate the experiments but to make sure the data presented match the conclusions, that confirmation and other biases have not arisen, that the protocols are ethical, etc.

Add this to Nature’s need to publish provocative papers  – thus increasing the impact factor and justifying its price – and we have a recipe for disaster.

Which appears to have happened here.

Now, scientists are people and they make mistakes. The key of to deal with those mistakes. Science over the last 400 years has determined that open investigations are the best antidote.  Secrecy opens the way for fraud.

This is what separates science from alchemy.

Yet Nature, in response to this incident, has done very little in the open – telling us to trust its processes even as it hides them from view.

So how do we know it is fixed? How can we trust any other paper in Nature if we do not know what it does to prevent being gamed? Is it really trustworthy?

In truth, we don’t. we can’t, and probably not

That is because Nature is a business that needs subscribers. Its incentives for success do not always align with science

Unfortunately, corporate nature of company (in our case NPG) is not about encouraging the openness and improving science. It’s against it! Taking in account recent retractions (6 in half of year), closed access (even decade after publication!), closed flawed peer review, shameless promotion of its impact factor (while everybody knows that IF is a joke), absence of feedback and dialogue with peers… you can see how “frontier of scientific publishing” losing its credibility and trust.

So looking at the reviewer’s comments, to get some idea of how the process failed, would be helpful. But Nature says no and to just trust it.

This might not bode well for Nature’s future. Open access approaches tend to align much better with the needs of researchers. We are seeing a sea change in scientific publishing.

Stonewalling the community may not be the best way to go.

 

Can real capitalism be returning? I think so

 Apple CEO Tim Cook

Shareholder vs. Stakeholder Capitalism
[Via Economist's View]

Quiet day in blogland. Here’s something to kick around for those of you who are so inclined:

Shareholder vs. Stakeholder Capitalism: …We may be witnessing the beginning of a return to a form of capitalism that was taken for granted in America sixty years ago. …

Are we witnessing the reemergence of “Stakeholder Capitalism”? I’m doubtful.

[More]

I’m not. Let’s look at one of the 21st century corporations that recognizes stakeholders, not shareholders – Apple.

At this year’s annual meeting, Tim Cook was visibly angered by the questions from a climate change denier group. They wanted to know if Apple’s investments in controlling the environmental  impacts of its business helped or hurt the bottom line. They wanted him to commit only to things that made money. Period.

Cook does not get angry in public much. But he knows the value of using it when necessary.

He stated that Apple tries to do what is right and just, to not focus purely on the return on investment (ROI) of what they do.

When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind,” he said, “I don’t consider the bloody ROI.

Then  he said something I have never heard a CEO state, one that the sociopathic leaders of shareholder-driven corporations would never even think:

If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock.

A shareholder corporation focusses only on the ROI and screw anything else. A stakeholder corporation cares about that “anything else.”

That “ anything else” used to encompass a lot.There used to be a multitude of stakeholders a corporation needed to serve – shareholders, employees, customers, suppliers, lenders, and the local community.

For much of the last 25 years, the only stakeholder a corporation focussed on is the shareholder.

It is the Costco model vs the Walmart model. One posits that corporations are run by the sort of moral and ethical people that Adam Smith described. People like Tim Cook.

The other envisions a corporation run by sociopaths. One that ignores its necessary impact on employees, suppliers, lenders and the community.

It ignores its social obligations.

Capitalism only works because of its social connections and norms. It cannot work by itself. It cannot exist in isolation. It is a social construct. It needs people who will participate.

And people are learning the power of that participation more and more to control the social behavior of a corporation. 

Apple has always been focussed on much more than its shareholders (one reason Wall Street has never treated Apple well). That is one reason it has such a dynamic community of fans.

Same with Costco.

The sociopaths tried to convince us that their path was the right one because it would raise up everyone. We have seen that this is not the case and people are beginning to use their power to make companies serve the public more.

It will increase and perhaps we will again return to the stakeholder view of capitalism.

Some  corporations and CEOs may not be as wealthy but society as a whole will be.

The internet is disrupting the group norms that define reality for most. This is good.

My Twitter social graph, visualized by Recollect 

 

How groupthink gets reality backward
[Via Boing Boing]

In his new book, David McRaney explains that You Are Now Less Dumb. Here he makes you even less dumb, by way of explaining social norms you will no longer be defeated by. Read the rest

[More]

Worth looking at. It helps explain some of the network material I’ve been developing.

Humans are social animals and HAVE to maintain social contacts. Most people make those contacts by having many strong ones within a small number of groups. Others have many weak links to a large number of groups.

Studies have shown that a majority of people in a group connect strongly to others in the group and are highly pushed top conform to the group’s norms.

Others tend to be  disruptive early adopters who have weak links to many other groups, so the pressure of any one group is weaker. They are not as susceptible to any one group’s norms

But this then tends to make them unloved by any particular group because they are not seen as one of the team. They bring in outside ideas and norms that are not from the group. 

They are the ones that hold their hand up and say they are confused. They are the ones who ask why we are doing it this way and not another. They are the ones who say that there is not viable reason for doing it this way and only the persona  view of a few is doing so.

They are disruptive. No one likes them. 

But they are the ones who bring in new ideas and new ways of doing things. They are the ones who help the group survive and adapt to changes. If they are not present, the group becomes mundane, brittle and maladaptive.

So, being an early adopter myself, I kept reading this article saying “I don’t do that.” or “That is not how I would do it.” It felt like reading a study on some weird primate instead of other humans.

It was a weird feeling.

But what technology allows us to do today, and what the article states we should do, is this: it allows anyone to make a weak connection to someone from outside the group. Now even the majority can begin to make links and find new norms, without having to be disrupted.

They can do it diectly. This will change culture in important ways.


Newfangled, physical law-confounding space drive? Not quite yet.

 space

NASA’s Quantum Drive: Cool Your Jets
[Via Bad Astronomy]

The ‘Net has been buzzing about a paper published by a team of engineers at NASA claiming that they have built a device that creates thrust without propellant. There have been lots of articles written about it, it’s spawned a zillion tweets, and I’m getting plenty of email asking me about it.

Here’s the thing: I’m not convinced. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but I am saying it’s very, very likely to be some sort of measurement or experimental error.

I could write a lot about this, but instead I’ll point you to two people who already have written excellent discussions on what’s going on here: John Baez on Google Plus (you should read both his first article and his second one) as well as my old friend Steve Novella. Both dissect this report, and align pretty well with what I’m thinking. Update: After writing this post but before it went up, I found my friend Mika McKinnon also wrote a solid article about all this, too.

The bottom line here is what the team is proposing violates a very basic law of physics; all the forces inside the device appear to be balanced, yet a thrust is still generated. The law of conservation of momentum says that’s not possible. The only other way this device could possibly work is if it’s interacting with “virtual particles,” an interesting idea, but a highly speculative one—and the authors of the paper don’t discuss the physics. It’s important to note that the paper is not an official announcement of verified results; it’s more like a progress report.  

I’ll be clear: Of course science has overturned earlier notions of how the Universe works. But sometimes, those rules are shown to be true so much and so often that when you come up with an idea that overthrows all of it, you’d better have iron-clad evidence of it.

[More]

All the NASA guys did was test something that others had stated produced an unknown force on the article. They fund something but, as this article mentions, this does not ‘prove’ anything.

It simply shows something interesting. The answers could be very prosaic. Or they could revolutionaize the world.

That is what makes scoence great. Unfortunately, most of the time the answer is prosaic. So let’s just wait a bit. Before we start planning trips to Mars.

A cure for Ebola using passive immunity

 Ebola Virus Particles

There is a cure for Ebola, we have it, we just don’t let anyone use it.
[Via Greg Laden's Blog]

I had suspected this might be the case. Disease like Ebola are potentially easily cured using serum. Here’s the idea. Someone gets the disease and survives, and their body now produces products that give them an immunity. So, you take a bunch of their blood, clean it up as best you can, and inject the serum (the cleaned up blood, to oversimplify) with these immune products, in to a person with the disease. That stops the disease, at least some of the time. The early history of the discovery of many nasty viruses involves several stories like this, where a researcher or physician is infected, seemingly likely to die, and is given a serum and lives.

[More]

I had also thought this might be why the two Americans were returned – we had a novel treatment. It worked in monkeys. It had just never been used in humans.

It uses something we have known about for a very long time – passive immunity. It has helped people infected with a disease until their own immune system can generate the needed protection.

But it is not rocket science – the serum from mice that have been injected with specific Ebola proteins produce antibodies. When those antibodies are injected into the blood stream of those infected with Ebola, clean up the Ebola virus until the person;s own immune system could produce its own antibodies.

This has been used for rabies exposure for years.Now we may see it used for Ebola.

From the article, it looks like it might have resulted in a miraculous recovery, almost like something out of a movie. Not like the bad movie that apparently Donald Trump takes for reality.

We have the tools to deal with Ebola. It just costs money. For a disease that affected a few hundred every couple of years, there was little ability to recoup any costs to produce it. 

Now, as Gred says, perhaps the US government will step in and pay for the needed work to produce this treatment.

First Contact – Before we get more data that demonstraes a mundane source, let’s enjoy believing the radio wave bursts are from aliens.

 Alien

Scientists investigate radio wave “bursts” from space
[Via Boing Boing]

Two different radio telescopes have now picked up fast “burst” signals that seem to originate outside our galaxy.

Let’s cut to the chase: Is it aliens?

[More]

It sure would be nice if they’d drop by and say hello.

Not just for the NSA: Almost all Android phones open to super-malware that takes control of everything, including Google Wallet

One X 

New Android ‘Fake ID’ flaw empowers stealthy new class of super-malware
[Via AppleInsider]

A new Android design error discovered by Bluebox Security allows malicious apps to grab extensive control over a user’s device without asking for any special permissions at installation. The problem affects virtually all Android phones sold since 2010.

[More]

Because Google does not verify the security certificate when an app is loaded, malware can claim to be any app, even trusted ones. 

There’s also another complication. “The problem is further compounded by the fact that multiple signers can sign an Android application (as long as each signer signs all the same application pieces),” Bluebox noted.

“This allows a hacker to create a single malicious application that carries multiple fake identities at once, taking advantage of multiple signature verification privilege opportunities to escape the sandbox, access NFC hardware used in secure payments, and take device administrative control without any prompt or notification provide to the user of the device.”

Only 18% of Android phones have upgraded to prevent the Adobe Flash flaw that can be exploited. And many Android phones can never be upgraded.

And the flaw also extends to a wide range of trusted apps. The malware can get all your financial information stored in Goggle Wallet.

The hack also extends to phones from Amazon. Not good when launching a new phone.

Google has known about this for over 3 months. So a major security flaw, that allows a downloaded app to grab access to your most sensitive data, has not been dealt with even as millions of people worldwide buy new phones.

Phones that may never be able to be fixed. 

On the other hand, Fake ID requires no user involvement, and can be used by malware posing as an innocent app or game that requests no special permissions. Once installed, the app can take over without the user having any knowledge of being infected. 

This is one reason the ‘walled garden’ of the iOS App store is safer. There may be flaws but they are easier to prevent, to fix and to send out solutions for.

How a distributed approach prevents authoritarian actions at Wikipedia

 Washington D.C. - Capital Building Dome

Who’s banned from editing Wikipedia this week? Congress
[Via Ars Technica]

Most members and staffers of the US House of Representatives won’t be able to edit pages on Wikipedia for more than a week. Administrators of the popular Web encyclopedia have imposed a 10-day ban on the IP address connected to Congress’ lower house.

The ban comes after a series of wild “disruptive” edits that appeared following the creation of @congressedits, a bot that monitors anonymous edits from congressional IP addresses and announces them to the world via Twitter. The account was created just over two weeks ago and already has more than 23,000 followers.

Wikipedia editors explained their castigation for the IP address 143.231.249.138 on the user talk page. The 10-day edit ban follows a one-day ban imposed earlier this month, which apparently didn’t do the trick.

[More]

Some people in Congress, using congressional computers, thought they could change content at Wikipedia. They’d be anonymous so no one would know. It might violate the TOS at Wikipedia but who would know.

It is the typical ‘smart’ idea of an authoritarian elite who hopes to hoodwink the distributed masses. A Congressional office could spend hours using their computer to alter things for their won purposes. All under the watchful eyes of authority to make sure that what was actually changed was what it wanted changed.

This was not some random staffer making changes. These were pretty obviously directed by someone in authority., someone who does not understand the power of distributed democracy.

We still do not know who was responsible (I bet we could if we made a Federal case out of it). But we do not really need to. It was a simple matter for someone to follow changes coming from congressional computers and make it open by putting on twitter.

Simply by making these changes open and transparent allows us to take action and probably change the behavior.

Sure, they can try to find another solution, such as using their own, personal, computers at another location, but that is simply using a distributed approach. This works against their authoritarian tendencies.

How will the authority know if the staffer is actually making the  right changes? Can it really trust anyone? A hallmark of hierarchical authority in a distributed democracy is paranoia due to the loss of direct control.

So moving control of these changes away from the eyes of the authority will make the elites feel less powerful, not more.

Win-win all around!

SpaceX on path to save government huge pile of dough

SpaceX Falcon 9 1.1 Launch Sequence at Vandenberg AFB 

SpaceX wins intermediate victory over US in launch contract case
[Via Ars Technica]

The United States government has lost its bid to toss SpaceX’s lawsuit over lucrative national security-related launch contracts.

In two orders issued on Thursday, the US Court of Federal Claims said that the two parties have been ordered to seek mediation as a way to resolve their ongoing dispute.

Three months ago, the private space firm sued after learning that the Air Force had entered into exclusive agreements with government contractors that locked out private companies from competing for the launch contracts without providing suitable justification. As of now, the only authorized contractor to send up Air Force payloads is United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

[More]

The Air Force essentially rushed through a no-bid contract just a few weeks before SpaceX would have been approved to compete for the contract.

The Boeing-Lockheed company, ULA, has had a monopoly on government contracts and these actions smell of sweetheart deals that come from the corporate welfare of government cost-plus contracts. These often become huge boondoggles that cost the taxpayer more than it should.

SpaceX has shown it can produce rockets every bit as safe as ULA and for perhaps half the price, if not much, much lower. Their disruptive impact on the space industry is sending huge ripples. 

Ripples that Boeing and Lockheed hoped to avoid by the rushed contract.

We are on the cusp of a new space race and the ripples cannot be avoided.


The premises may be incorrect but I agree with most of the conclusions

Pericles 

There Will Be No Smooth Sailing
[Via Booman Tribune]

In the next couple of decades, America is going to have to grapple with two major changes. The first is that there are going to be new first-world powers, like China, Brazil and India, that we will have to reckon with. The West will not be driving things the way we have been accustomed to since the end of World War Two.

The second is that the American electorate is going to be more diverse and left-leaning, more like Europe.

In both cases, Hillary Clinton seems ill-suited to be our leader. The future is more Bill de Blasio than Andrew Cuomo, and the Clintons probably don’t get that. Still, Andrew Sullivan’s dripping contempt of the Clintons is irritating. He opposes them for all the wrong reasons and none of the right ones.

While I think the Clintons are a bit “out of time,” I don’t necessarily think this is a terrible thing for a country that is going to have some serious difficulties adjusting to new realities. Clinton could serve as a bit of a buffer, allowing the country to adjust to the changed world in way that doesn’t put too much shock into the system.

We should not underestimate the threat that the reactionary rebellion against change represents in this country. They are on the verge of defeat, they know it, and they aren’t going to take it lying down.

[More]

I have not disagreed with a post I agree with quite this much in a long time.

I do not think that we will have to worry about the BRIC countries quite as much as others. In a battle between diverse, distributed bottom up approaches and single-minded, authoritarian, top down ones, no country in history can compare to the US. Two of the BRIC countries (Russian and China) are highly authoritarian and the other two, while diverse, do not have a long history of effectively dealing with that diversity.

The BRIC countries will be important, and Western influence may drop (I actually feel it may increase in some ways), I do not think the threat of BRIC will really impact the US. I think it is other. smaller pressures that will have a huge effect.

He hits one of these in the 2nd problem – diverse populations. One of the aspects of a successful society in the current age is solving complex problems, using a wide and diverse set of views to arrive at the best win-win solution.

We may become more diverse and left-leaning but not at all like Europe. Europe still has too little diversity and is having a very hard time adapting. The US while obviously showing signs of stress, has a long and successful history of dealing with new and diverse immigrants, integrating them into the most diverse culture ever.

And America has historically balanced this with an authoritative individualism that allows us to do things well, once we make the decision. Or decide to change what we are doing when conditions change. A decision that is almost always based on the democratic principles we were founded on.

Our culture is an amalgam of every other culture. It is one reason Hollywood movies do so well overseas (in fact, many movies can only make a profit by making a lot of money in a wide variety of countries). Our culture is a world culture.

No one else comes close. It is why I am confident humanity will solve our problems. We already have the beginnings of the culture that will lead us to success. It is America’s.

Not because we have some God-given manifest destiny. No top down authority makes us the model. It is due mainly to one thing.

Balance. Between distributed democracy and hierarchical authority. Those have helped make America as successful as it is. They will help even more in the future.

I do think Hillary may not be suitable for the next President. I actually think she would be better suited on the Supreme Court but that’s another story. But at the moment, there are no other  viable choices for continuing our transition.

Because, while I talk historically  presently the US is out of balance, with top-down, elites having too much political and economic power And as has happened others times this occurred, we are beginning to see the democratic processes re-balance the system,

Those in favor of the status quo, the reactionaries, the ones who want to maintain the concentrated power they wield, will not give up power easily or without loss.

I do think the reactionary elements of our society are where the real battle is at. As it is with reactionary elements being seen across the globe as they deal with distributed approaches. It is no coincidence that we are seeing multiple outbreaks of violence, driven in most cases by reactionary approaches being used. 

This will simply drive people to use distributed approaches to find solutions. The barriers to entry for much of this are so low that authority simply has a hard time stopping it.

As a quick instance, war zone reporting used to be highly restricted, with authorities only allowing certain things to be printed. Now everyone has a camera on them almost all the time, with the ability to disperse information in ways that have never been allowed before. Both for good and ill.

Finally, a key aspect to remember. Reactionaries here are not strictly conservatives. There are many liberals who want to maintain the status quo. The battle is not along economic lines – as our political parties are drawn up. It is along a separate axis. 

We have already seen this beginning to arise in our political leaders (whose votes have recently begun to reflect the battles going on).

As with any struggle, there will be setbacks and such. But, historically, the societies that did best at balancing hierarchical authority and distributed democracy were the most successful (Cordoba in the  900s vs Cordoba 150 years later; Venice in the 1300s vs Venice. 100 years later). The democracy of Athens still informs us, not the authority of Sparta.

Too much of the latter and a society is brittle and unable to adapt, ruled by an authoritative elite that extracts wealth for their own aggrandizement  Too much the latter and nothing gets done, as everyone talks about the problem.

But balance the two and you have the ability to adapt, to find radical solutions and then execute them. 

I see nothing yet to believe that America will not find the balance needed to produce solutions in this battle, and then help the rest of the world. That is also what we have done before.

If the dazzle camouflage works, I’m sure it will be made illegal

Liverpool LighNight 2014

Antisurveillance face camouflage
[Via Boing Boing]

Adam Harvey’s “Computer Vision Dazzle” is designed to keep facial-recognition computer algorithms from seeing the real face. But how to wear the dazzle for days while going about everyday life?

[More]

See, even the person above begins to disappear from casual view. The use of dazzle camouflage started in WWI on navy ships. It made it very hard to determine speed or distance.

That is because it worked against the way rangefinders worked at the time. Today we have something similar based on how facial recognition algorithms work.

The authorities will not allow their surveillance to be flouted. They would never allow the distributed masses to use this on a regular basis.

If they are allowed to maintain that level of control. This could be one of the battle grounds.

Making a better world = Separating Sheep from Goats

Ellis Island

The parable of the sheep and goats – to me, one of the defining Biblical passages describing the underlying principles of Christ’s teachings. (with the Sermon on the Mount being the other major one).

As I have written before:

Whether it is the New Commandment to love one another, the Second Great Commandment to love our neighbors, turning the other cheek in response to evil, or how to love one’s enemies, His teachings show a path that breaks cycles of violence that often reverberate during times of change and strife.

This parable catalogs some of the actions that can be taken by those following his teachings – the sheep. It details how they separate themselves by how they treat others.

Seeing a person in difficulty, having compassion and acting to remedy that difficulty is one of the defining teachings that Christ provided.

They are about how to treat other humans, how compassion is required. Empathy and sympathy are what constantly drive successful societies and simply slow down cultures doomed to failure.

Time for us all to be separated – so many goats and so few sheep. From Matthew 25:

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:

33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:

36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?

38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:

43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.

46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Could iBeacons be coming for hoime use?

Recone-Electro-Voice-Speakers-_22890-480x360

Apple could make a killing with this little-known device
[Via MacDailyNews]

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“Unless consumers start carrying around two iPhones, investors are still waiting for Apple to come up with the next profit-driving monster,” Dan Newman writes for The Motley Fool.

“Many think this might be a role for the rumored iWatch. However, at an estimated selling price at half of an iPhone, around $300, and a consumer interest yet to be confirmed,” Newman writes. “But, one device that links up with iThings anywhere just might give Apple an iPhone-sized financial boost: an iBeacon transmitter for every home and business.”

“Imagine walking past the grocery store and receiving a notification of a sale on your favorite brand of cereal. Or, after sitting at a bar for an hour, receiving a coupon for your next round of drinks. Or, leaving a clothing store and automatically being charged for the items that you ordered to fit. iBeacon can do these things with low-energy Bluetooth technology, or BLE,” Newman writes. “Apple introduced iBeacon in 2013, and recently came out with standards needed to earn consent for use of the trademark. There are many variations of iBeacons that third-party manufacturers have designed, like Estimote’s rock-shaped transmitter, or the more utilitarian AIRcable USB dongle. However, a more Apple-esque design might come from the company. According to FCC filings, Apple has tested an iBeacon transmitter that it would manufacture itself.”

[More]

We keep hearing about all these business uses for iBeacons -“Have coupons sent to your iPhone as you walk around.”

People will only use this if it is useful FOR THEM, not if it makes life easier for businesses. I’ve already written about how this technology could be useful for people – like making paying for meals at restaurants so much easier.

What happens at home when you have iBeacons from Apple available? First, combine them with Apple’s HomeKit. So your computer/iOS device knows where you are.

HomeKit will be designed to connect apps and home devices. Add some iBeacons and these devices will turn on or off depending on where you are.

So, as you walk around the house, it can do things, like turn on the light or open the garage door when you need it.

Or a home speaker system that not only plays music you want to hear as you move through the house but plays different music on different speakers depending on where people are in the house.

I’ll bet there are more.

The “outsourcing” of Chinese jobs to robots begins in earnest

Tesla Autobots 

10,000 robots to help assemble Apple’s iPhone 6; robots expected to impact low-skilled workers worldwide
[Via MacDailyNews]

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“Foxconn parent company Hon Hai is set to deploy an army of 10,000 assembly-line robots to help meet the demands of producing the highly anticipated iPhone 6,” Reilly Dowd reports for The Fiscal Times. “Hon Hai CEO Terry Gou revealed in a recent shareholder meeting that Apple would be the very first customer of Foxconn’s latest robots.”

“‘Robots are going to enhance and speed up the manufacturing process,’ said Tim Bajarin, CEO of market research firm Creative Strategies. ‘The really big issue here is that the demand for the iPhone continues to grow. It’s grown every quarter since it came out,’” Dowd reports. “From a business standpoint, it makes sense. ‘When you are dealing with creating millions of smart phones per month, efficiency is critical,’ said Bajarin in an interview. ‘Robotics gives you that level of efficiency, which in the end, is very important for the bottom line.’”

[More]

This is only 10,000. But they work 27/7 with no need to eat or take breaks. As the use of these expands, expect to see many of Foxconn’s 1.3 million employees be put out of work. No more relatively high-paying jobs  for people with limited technological skills (ie not programmers).

Many manufacturing jobs in the US were moved to China because human labor was cheaper. What happens when robotic labor destroys those jobs?

The average person willnot have many options for living a middle class life.

Genome editing in the silkworm- I’ve seen this movie

Insectosaurus Invades The World!

Heritable Genome Editing with CRISPR/Cas9 in the Silkworm, Bombyx mori
[Via PLoS ONE Alerts: New Articles]

by Wei Wei, Huhu Xin, Bhaskar Roy, Junbiao Dai, Yungen Miao, Guanjun Gao

We report the establishment of an efficient and heritable gene mutagenesis method in the silkworm Bombyx mori using modified type II clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) with an associated protein (Cas9) system. Using four loci Bm-ok, BmKMO, BmTH, and Bmtan as candidates, we proved that genome alterations at specific sites could be induced by direct microinjection of specific guide RNA and Cas9-mRNA into silkworm embryos. Mutation frequencies of 16.7–35.0% were observed in the injected generation, and DNA fragments deletions were also noted. Bm-ok mosaic mutants were used to test for mutant heritability due to the easily determined translucent epidermal phenotype of Bm-ok-disrupted cells. Two crossing strategies were used. In the first, injected Bm-ok moths were crossed with wild-type moths, and a 28.6% frequency of germline mutation transmission was observed. In the second strategy, two Bm-ok mosaic mutant moths were crossed with each other, and 93.6% of the offsprings appeared mutations in both alleles of Bm-ok gene (compound heterozygous). In summary, the CRISPR/Cas9 system can act as a highly specific and heritable gene-editing tool in Bombyx mori.

[More]

Truthfully, it is pretty amazing that they can make changes in the genome that are carried through the germline  and are inherited.

GMO insects may not be far away.

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