Robotic Hornets and Big Brother

September 15 2008 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government   Year: 2008   Rating: 6 Hot

I can feel my relationship with nature changing. The other day a big ass bumble bee was hovering around my face for a prolonged period of time. I mean we were having a stare down. I’m relatively sure that it was a real bee, but it spent an unusual amount of time right in my face – flew away and then back several times. It felt like there was some intelligence and intention behind it’s activities. Like it was gathering information.

Now before you label me as paranoid (at least wait until the end of the post), consider all of the increased surveillance activity that we know is going on and think about what we might not (take Bob Woodward’s cryptic interview reference from last week as an example).

Advances in robotics, miniturization and cost reduction in video cameras are transforming the economics and viability of surveillance. The increasing number and granularity of commercial satellite technology platforms, aerial drones, advances in facial recognition and image processing are increasingly enabling visual quantification of everything that happens in outdoor space. This is a trend that will only accelerate, driven primarily by security threats and the increase in destructive capabilities of small groups of people and individuals.

For large metropolitan cities, there really is no choice in the matter. London has already embraced extensive monitoring of public spaces and New York City has undertaken an ambitious project which includes the Ring of Steel. Though interfaces like Google Maps and Google Street View are currently static, they will eventually become real-time as the world moves towards becoming an unscripted 24-7 reality tv program.

So how do I know if that bee was real or surveillance. Well, short of swatting it and finding out for sure, I don’t. But I do believe that pretty soon these will be just another weapon in an increasingly large arsenal of behavior mapping and large scale societal surveillance.

Learning from the LHC or: How I Stopped Worrying and Started Loving the Collider!

September 29 2008 / by Mielle Sullivan / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Social Issues   Year: General   Rating: 6 Hot

Inspired, in part, by Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

People are expressing some pretty melodramatic and, dare I say, silly reactions to the Large Hadron Collider. Every time I turn around, there’s a new headline about the LHC. Several papers have labelled it The God Machine, and some misinformed bloggers have dubbed it the Doomsday Machine. Walter Wagner and Luis Sancho filed their famous lawsuit against the collider because it might cause the end of the world. And of course, my personal favorite, this guy.

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Google Earth Updates New York to Near Photo-Realism

December 18 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2008   Rating: 6 Hot

afternyc.jpg

The Google Earth Blog announced it has made a huge update to New York City regarding 3D buildings.  "Google has completed nearly every building in Manhattan Island for Google Earth. Just fly to "New York City" and turn on the 3D Buildings layer in Google Earth."  Google engineers tried to keep a lot of user-submitted 3D buildings along with their own updates.  Head on over to their site to see before and after pictures of the update, it gives you the same feeling the latest update for Google Streetview gives you — Awed and creepy.

Will the Next Google be a Prosumer-Based Quantification Company?

February 12 2009 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Information   Year: 2015   Rating: 6 Hot

To scale and dominate as quickly as Google has, a new company will need to generate serious end-user value, monetize effecively, and take a new web-based approach to human resources.  One such structure might be an organization specializing in prosumer-based quantification (structured crowd-sourced info mining) that can expand and contract quickly by paying citizen quantifiers for quality content that they input (think adsense, but more structured and directed from the outset).  I imagine that this sort of company could catalyze big, fast economic growth and play an important role in generating positive-sum network value as we move further into the acceleration era.

To get the discussion of such a possibility rolling here's a speculative timeline of such a company (2011-2015) that I've cleverly dubbed "Quantification Company":

abacus.jpg2011 - Launch: A logical outgrowth of flash mobs, open mapping parties, and steadily rising prosumerism, the Quantification Company (QC) was created in 2011 with the mission of "organizing and accelerating the comprehensive quantification of Earth's most valued systems."  The for-profit organization relied on a small core of programmers, salespeople and community managers to catalyze quantification cascades, better known as Data Swarms, for a large variety of clients, but mostly municipalities and large corporations.  Early efforts were kept simple and focused mostly on the rapid and/or real-time HD video mapping of U.S. cities, national parks, and other under-quantified areas of interest.  Traffic-based fees were paid out to citizen quantifiers who captured and uploaded the best geographic footage and/or commentary.  Though they were slightly nervous at the ambition and direction of the QC, competitors like Google, Yahoo and Wikipedia were happy to see traffic and content flow through their systems.

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Google's Vint Cerf Predicts Video Downloads Will Soon Replace Streaming

June 25 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: The Web   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

Google’s Vint Cerf, the man that many refer to as the father of the internet, says that widening bandwidth and data transfer speeds will soon allow video downloading to rival, then replace, video streaming as the primary mode of online video consumption.

“What I’m foreseeing frankly is that video will be used in download mode more than it will be used in streaming mode as time goes on,” predicts Cerf, “A gigabit per second would let you download an hour’s worth of video in 16 seconds, kind of like what happens with iPod where you can download music faster than you could listen to it.”

Check out his interview on Beet.tv here:

“I anticipate that a lot of video that people will watch will have been downloaded and then played back whenever they want it, sort of Tivo style,” says Cerf.

What will this all mean for the consumer and Cerf’s behemoth employer? (cont.)

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YouTube Co-Founder Chad Hurley's 10-Year Web Video Market Predictions

September 17 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Environment   Year: 2018   Rating: 5 Hot

Yesterday, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley shot off some optimistic predictions about the web video industry. He opined that ten years from now “online video broadcasting will be the most ubiquitous and accessible form of communication.”

I certainly buy that web video broadcasting will be near ubiquitous. Hurley’s reasoning nicely reflects my own:

“The tools for video recording will continue to become smaller and more affordable. Personal media devices will be universal and interconnected. Even more people will have the opportunity to record and share even more video with a small group of friends or everyone around the world.”

But I am not sure that I’m sold on web video as the “most accessible form of communication”.

Why? Not because I think it won’t explode – web video will to be massive by 2018. Rather, I believe it’s possible that some nascent comm technology may just zoom past web video during that span, or more likely, subsume it.

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The iPhone's Plan to Beat Google on it's Home Turf with new Street View Update

October 29 2008 / by christinep / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 5 Hot

Google Android has one of the best features designed for Google maps. Makes sense, doesn’t it? But while the newly released Android is getting all the hype in the news as of late, it seems Apple isn’t going to let Google get away with that title just yet. With the software 2.2 update, the iPhone will now support Google Street View as well as mass transit directions. With this feature, people will be able to view their actual surroundings so they can get a better sense of where they need to go. The mass transit feature is especially helpful for those who commute on a daily basis and need to catch those buses on time.

It wasn’t too long ago that a map was the confused traveler’s staple — you’d stare at it for what seemed like hours, dimly aware of your orientation or distances, unable to fold it back into it’s designed shape.

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Google Creates Awesome iPhone App, Apple Gives Google the "Finger"

November 17 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 5 Hot

Look! A great new App is here for the iPhone! Google has incorporated voice recognition capability into their search, allowing users to speak what they want and get results through their phone. Check out the vid below.

Seems pretty cool, eh? Oh wait, there’s a problem.

Turns out that although Apple approved the App for a Friday release (Nov. 14th), it remains to be seen. You’d think that this application, which is coming out first on the iPhone and created by the mega-giant Google, wouldn’t run into any problems. You’d be wrong.

Apple really screwed the the pooch on this one. Although Google decided to release it first on the iPhone, this snub could cause some ramifications down the line between the two companies. Sad thing is, this technology is amazing. The fact the application was able to pick out “Fahrenheit” shocks me (I have a hard enough time spelling it myself). And combined with all the other issues developers of iPhone Apps have been facing, Apple seems to be becoming the “bad guy.”

Apple, what’s your deal?

via TechCrunch

Rumor Mill: Three Months Later And Already A New G-Phone?

December 22 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

android-wallpaper2_1024x768.jpgThe Internet is abuzz with people theorizing that a new Google phone from T-Mobile, the G2, will make an appearance late January on the world market.  If true (which it hopefully isn't) this would mean a whole three months passed before a better phone from the same maker breaking the previous record made by the iPhone which stood at nine months.

Although others say it won't appear until April, the idea that a new phone may just be around the corner has got quite a few people heated especially when it "is expected to have a 5-megapixel autofocus camera, VGA camera for video calls, a full touch screen, and Wi-Fi connectivity."  Three months later and already all those extras?

There's a lot going in to play here.  For instance, many thought the T-Mobile G1 was rushed through production even though there was over a half a year of delay in production.  That being said, one might consider a January release as a sign that the first phone pushed onto consumers wasn't the right phone but a rush-job, the rumored one being the phone they should have released first.

If Google wants to keep all the goodwill and support they have from those in the online community who are trying to support their Open-Source venture into the market, they also need to appeal to the consumers buying their Android-powered phones.  If they're smart, they will answer these rumors and hopefully give us a release date somewhere later next year.

via CNET

NYC Pairs with Google to Setup an Official Mirror World, aka Information Center Platform

January 22 2009 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Information   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

Pairing with Google for its online mapping technology, New York City has (at last!) launched a state-of-the-art information center and comprehensive website to help visitors and others obtain the data they need about the city.  The new platform serves up important information by category (i.e. hotels, dining, shopping, nightlife, arts, entertainment) and through Google maps seamlessly embedded into the site. (Here's NYC Mayor Bloomberg's version of the announcement)

Really a Mirror World: The result is a not only a successful city navigation platform, but also a big first step toward an official municipal mirror world through which people can interact online. 

Google NYC

Predictions: Though it presently offers up only select slices of the NYC mirror world that exists as google maps, I expect that to change over the next few years as 1) the site integrates Google Earth, Street View and other apps, 2) the sites adopts community-related technologies  and becomes an essential hub for advertising products, services, events, 3) the resolution of Google's NYC geo and info graphs increases, and 4) NYC and its citizens realize the power of a centralized, publicly owned mirror portal and demand its rapid development.

It simply makes sense that municipalities themselves should seize control of their own increasingly rich geo-info-social hubs and use them to drive value creation across a variety of domains.

The Race to Quantify Cities and Be the Prime Directory: Accordingly, I find it very likely that upon the successful Googlization of NYC many other cities will increasingly demand similar Google Worlds to boost their own commerce, public services and brand.  And it's possible that Google could derive a significant amount of revenue by helping to deply these services, though they may also be glad to suffer the cost in exchange for the deluge of 1) geo-related information that would subsequently pour in as cities convert to Google as their official Directory, and 2) the additional advertising that would pour through such an official platform.  -- Realizing this, my bet is that Google is gearing up to conquer the world city-by-city.

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Google Ocean to Extend Planetary Quantification

January 26 2009 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Information   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

google_ocean.jpgIf the rumors prove true, Google is about to add 1.35 quintillion liters of water and 361 million square kilometers of surface area to its Earth and Maps applications with the long-awaited release of Google Ocean.

According to CNet reporter Stephen Shankland it's rather likely that Google will announce the new monster app next week at a star-studded Google Earth event:

Gore is set to join Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt and Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience, at the on February 2 event at the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco's newly rebuilt aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum. But it's another speaker's name that gives the tip-off about what the event might be about.

That person is oceanographer Sylvia Earle, explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and the founder of the Deep Search Foundation.

When viewed together with Google's space-based initiatives (Google Sky, Google Moon, Google Mars), the Ocean project indicates that Google is very clearly working to lay down the scaffolding (3d wiki) for Total Systems Quantification (TSQ), a very necessary strategy considering the company's mission to make all information universally accessible. 

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Google Earth Adds Virtual Time Travel, Moves a Step Closer to Gelernter's Mirror World Vision

February 02 2009 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Information   Year: 2009   Rating: 5 Hot

Not only did Google add an ocean to its Earth platform today, the company also enabled "Historical Imagery", a new feature that brings to life a crude version of what Yale computer scientist David Gelernter's 1992 prediction of the planet on a “time toggle”. 

The Google Blog: Until today, Google Earth displayed only one image of a given place at a given time. With this new feature, you can now move back and forth in time to reveal imagery from years and even decades past, revealing changes over time. Try flying south of San Francisco in Google Earth and turning on the new time slider (click the "clock" icon in the toolbar) to witness the transformation of Silicon Valley from a farming community to the tech capital of the world over the past 50 years or so.

Along with a new 3d Mars feature, the additions have increased the scope and resolution of the largest publicly accessible simulation of our physical system, thus expanding the Google's information scaffolding and future monetization opportunities through an increasingly valuable Mirror World.

The new features also reinforce the notion of a rapidly growing retro-quantification industry rooted in our social desire to achieve topsight over space and time.  A resource that quickly allows people to surf physical history is obviously critical to bettering our view of reality and thus improving the efficiency of our economic behavior.

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