A new digital ecology is evolving, and humans are being left behind

Incomprehensible computer behaviors have evolved out of high-frequency stock trading, and humans aren’t sure why. Eventually, it could start affecting high-tech warfare, too. We spoke with a researcher at University of Miami who thinks humans will be outpaced by a new “machine ecology.” For all intents and purposes, this genesis of this new world began in 2006 with the introduction of legislation which made high frequency stock trading a viable option. This form of rapid-fire trading involves algorithms, or bots, that can make decisions on the order of milliseconds (ms). By contrast, it takes a human at least one full second to both recognize and react to potential danger. Consequently, humans are progressively being left out of the trading loop. And indeed, it’s a realm that’s rapidly expanding. For example, a new dedicated transatlantic cable is being built between US and UK traders that could boost transaction speed by another 5 ms. In addition, the new purpose-built chip iX-eCute is being launched which can prepare trades in an astounding 740 nanoseconds. (via A new digital ecology is evolving, and humans are being left behind)

A Polytopia reader - Introductory links to Wildcat writings

(Having been asked for it, this is a re-post for those that missed it)

A Cyber Soaring Humanity

1. A Cyber Soaring Humanity (or The rise of the Cyber Unified Civilization)

2.The Natural Asymmetry of Infocologies

3.This mountain has no top

4.Hybrid futures, Knowmads and the Notion state

5. Hybrid futures and Knowmads (pt2)

6.Knowmads as metabolic reactors of information (Hybrid Future and Knowmads (pt 3)

7.Knowmads as Aesthetic Curators of information (Hybrid Futures & Knowmads pt 4)

8. Knowmads as Critical Relevancies (Hybrid Futures & Knowmads pt 5)

9. Aesthetic Management As The Future Of Joy (or a Foray in InfoBeauty)

Forays in Philotopia

# Polytopia as Rhizomatic Hyperconnectivity- a new form of wisdom emerges

# The Future History of Individualism (Pt.1)

# Parsing Hyper Humanism – a different angle to Posthumanism

# The Luxurious Ambiguity of Intelligence in Hyperconnectivity

Cyber Identity

# Fluid affinities replace nucleic identity

# What is it like to be a ‘Nym’ - A Polytopian Stance

# Some will be Gangsters of Poetry, Some will be Pan-Symbolists

We have always lived in an information economy, a fact that sometimes tends to be displaced by the immense amount of information now available at our fingertips. The huge amount of talk generated by the current infoconomy explosion takes little, if at all, account that ever since knowledge has been passed from parent to child and from culture to culture, the barter coin of trade was always information. Whether the information passed was gossip or the way to light a fire, the method of creating a better blade or the latest fashion fad, information was always the basis of human interaction.

(now writing the next step)

Wildcat: The Natural Asymmetry of Infocologies

ICYMI, English language is changing faster than ever, says expert

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The English language is evolving at a faster rate now than at any other time in history because of social media and instant messaging, a language expert has said.

John Sutherland, professor of English from University College London, who led a study into common social media and “text speak” terms, found most parents were baffled by the language used by their children.

According to the study, commissioned by Samsung for a phone launch, there was a “seismic generational gap” between the older and younger generations when it came to how modern informal language was used.

Modern terms such as “fleek” and “bae” were found to be the most commonly confused by parents, with 10% of the 2,000 surveyed being able to identify the true meaning of “bae” – a term of affection; while 86% of parents who took part in the survey said they felt teenagers spoke an entirely different language on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

“Fleek” – which means looking good – came top of the list of terms parents did not understand, with 43% selecting it as a term they did not know.

This was ahead of fomo (fear of missing out) and bae (thought to have come from “before anyone else”, or to represent a shortened version of “babe”) – which 40% of parents said they didn’t know.

Popular social media acronyms ICYMI (in case you missed it), TBT (throwback Thursday) and NSFW (not safe for work) also made the list of terms parents failed to understand.

Sutherland said: “The limitation of characters on old handsets were a key factor in the rise of acronyms in text messaging such as TXT, GR8 and M8.

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Do Killer Robots Violate Human Rights?

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As bizarre as it sounds, the United Nations just held an arms-control conference to figure out if killer robots might violate the laws of war.

Ten years ago, very few experts were worried about military robots. The technology was just emerging onto the battlefield. Now, several credible groups are waging war against killer robots, officially known as lethal autonomous weapons systems.

The UN returned to the subject last week in a five-day meeting of experts for the Convention for Certain Conventional Weapons. I was invited by the convention’s chairperson, the German Ambassador Michael Biontino, to speak about the problems that lethal autonomous weapons systems may create for human rights. This essay is adapted from my testimony and gives a glimpse at how this important debate is moving along. (These are my opinions alone and don’t necessarily reflect the positions of UNIDIR or other organizations.)

The specific issue I was asked to address is whether killer robots, in making kill-decisions without human intervention, violate either a right to life or the “laws of humanity,” as protected by the Martens Clause that has been in effect since the 1899 Hague Convention. (The Martens Clause requires nations to consider warfare through the lens of the “public conscience.”)

These concerns are a different kind than technology-based objections to killer robots. For instance, critics point out that artificial intelligence still can’t reliably distinguish between a lawful target (such as an enemy combatant with a gun) and an unlawful one (such as a civilian with an ice-cream cone), as demanded by the laws of war. Technology limitations, like this one and others, are possibly solvable over time. But if lethal autonomous weapons are truly an assault on human rights, that’s a philosophical challenge that can’t just be solved with better science and engineering. So it’s worth focusing on human rights as some of the most persistent problems for the killer robots, and I’ll keep that separate from technical issues to not confuse an already-complex debate.

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Shoe That Grows gives poor kids footwear that fits for years

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For children living in poverty, footwear is one of many problems. Almost as soon as a child has received shoes to wear, they’re likely to have grown out of them and have to make do with them being too small. The Shoe That Grows changes this. It allows children to adjust its size as their feet grow.

Shoes are hugely important for protecting our feet, especially in places where healthcare provision is limited. In bare feet, an innocuous cut or graze can easily become infected or pick up soil-transmitted diseases.

Unfortunately, shoes are not always readily available for those living in poverty, let alone shoes that are the right size. Kenton Lee, founder of poverty charity Because International, saw this first-hand during a trip to Nairobi, Kenya, in 2007. Lee says he saw young children wearing shoes that were way too small for them, with their their toes poking out of the ends.

The experience led to the development of The Shoe That Grows. The shoe has a flexible compressed rubber sole and adjustable leather straps that fit over the top of the foot and around the rear of the heal.

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Step forward for quantum computing - BBC News

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Scientists have made progress towards correcting the errors that are expected to affect quantum computing.

Quantum computers could offer a massive performance boost over conventional types, but progress toward commercially useful machines has been slow.

Now, scientists from IBM’s Watson Research Center have successfully demonstrated a new method for correcting errors on a quantum circuit.

Details are published in the journal Nature Communications.

The basic units of information in classical computers are called “bits” and are stored as a string of 1s and 0s. But their equivalents in a quantum system - qubits - can be both 1s and 0s at the same time.

In theory, this should give quantum machines much greater computational power than conventional types.

But quantum information is fragile, and errors in calculations carried out in a quantum system can creep in through interference from factors such as heat, electromagnetic radiation and defects in materials.

Controlling or removing such errors is one of the great challenges for harnessing the power of quantum computing.

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Wildlife decline may lead to 'empty landscape' - BBC News

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Populations of some of the world’s largest wild animals are dwindling, raising the threat of an “empty landscape”, say scientists.

About 60% of giant herbivores - plant-eaters - including rhinos, elephants and gorillas, are at risk of extinction, according to research.

Analysis of 74 herbivore species, published in Science Advances, blamed poaching and habitat loss.

A previous study of large carnivores showed similar declines.

Prof William Ripple, of Oregon State University, led the research looking at herbivores weighing over 100kg, from the reindeer up to the African elephant.

“This is the first time anyone has analysed all of these species as a whole,” he said.

“The process of declining animals is causing an empty landscape in the forest, savannah, grasslands and desert.”

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Does the digital era herald the end of history? - BBC News

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Has the digital transformation of our society put the future of recorded history in jeopardy? Many internet observers fear so. But why, and what do they mean?

Since the 1980s our lives have grown increasingly digital, and with dizzying speed.

Most of our photos, videos, conversations, research and writings are now stored as strings of ones and noughts on local computers or in data centres distributed throughout the world.

Data specialist EMC estimates that in 2013 the world contained about 4.4 zettabytes (4.4 trillion gigabytes) of data. By 2020, it expects this to have risen tenfold.

History, in other words, has gone online.

While this means unprecedented instant access to vast stores of human knowledge and culture, it also means that mountains of digital data of crucial importance to archivists and future historians are potentially under threat from deletion, corruption, theft, obsolescence and natural or man-made disasters.

How so?
Data threats

In the past, we wrote on stone, wax tablets, parchment, calfskin vellum and paper - anything we could get our hands on. And these hard copies lasted pretty well - some cave paintings survived more than 40,000 years, while Egyptian hieroglyphics date from about 3500BC.

But anyone who’s seen their photo or music collections wiped out, knows how easily digital files can be lost.

A digital version of the fire that nearly destroyed the great Library of Alexandria - and many of its culturally significant books and scrolls - in 48BC, may not be as far-fetched as it sounds.

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from a nuclear explosion, for example, could easily wipe out entire electricity networks and effectively bring civilisation to a crashing halt. Computers, unlike printed books, need power to work.

Billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer warned his investors last year that an EMP was “the most significant threat” to the US and its allies.

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Industrial Revolution III 3D printer places electronics within the objects it creates

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The development of 3D printer technology has been rapidly accelerating, boosted in a large part to the open source community and world-wide sharing of information. There are now literally dozens of brands of 3D printers on the market at all price points, but Buzz Technology Limited, out of London, is looking to stand out from the crowd with its Industrial Revolution III printer (or IR3 for short) that can embed wiring within plastic components using conductive material.

There are printers that print food, printers that use lasers, printers that sinter metal, and printers that make full color objects. Adding to the expanding array of 3D printer capabilities, the IR3 can deposit material to make plastic objects – like other 3D printers – and lay down conductive pathways using other materials. But it can then stick electronic components into the assembly to make a working product. In the example on its Kickstarter page, the printer is used to fabricate, wire and assemble a small radio-control car. The trick here is the ability of the printer to “pick and place” objects into the assembly and leads to the company calling the IR3, “the world’s first product assembling 3D printer.”

However, there are several caveats to this ability – the part must fit into a special bin on the machine, it must have a steel plate that the electromagnet on the print head can grab onto, and it must have special spring loaded connections that mate to the printed conductive material in the plastic assembly the rest of the printer is making.

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This company is using machine learning to develop a cure for cancer

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Boston-based Berg has spent the last six years perfecting an artificial intelligence platform that may soon crack the cancer code.

Could we be just two or three years away from curing cancer? Niven Narain, the president of Berg, a small Boston-based biotech firm, says that may very well be the case.

With funding from billionaire real-estate tycoon Carl Berg as well as from Mitch Gray, Narain, a medical doctor by training, and his small army of scientists, technicians, and programmers, have spent the last six years perfecting and testing an artificial intelligence platform that he believes could soon crack the cancer code, in addition to discovering valuable information about a variety of other terrible diseases, including Parkinson’s.

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Artificial meat tipped to flood low-end market

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Steaks and chops could be pushed to the high-end of the meat market in future, with artificial meats supplying the bulk, cheap end, research suggests.

The Murdoch University review examined potential impacts of in vitro meat (cultured meat), plant, fauna and fungal-based meat alternatives, genetically modified animals and cloning.

Dr Sarah Bonny says while artificial meat isn’t likely to revolutionise how we eat any time soon, conventional meat production can’t meet future demand.

“With estimates of the global population reaching nine billion in 2050, the meat industry would need to increase production by approximately 50 to 73 per cent,” Dr Bonny says.

Current projections suggest that without substantial change and innovation the industry will max out feeding eight billion people.

This, along with growing concerns about animal welfare and the environmental impact of animal agriculture, suggests artificial meat will become increasingly accepted by consumers.

New technology and health risks must be considered
However, Dr Bonny says a number of issues must be overcome, including creating certain technologies and having a better understanding of health risks.

This is the case for in vitro meats, which were cultured in labs from cells and have garnered media attention in recent years.

“The cell culture approach for in vitro meat is in the preliminary stages of development and the technology is at least 10 to 20 years from being commercially available,” Dr Bonny says.

“Making it viable will require commitment and investments from both governments and industry.

"As an example, the first in vitro burger made for human consumption cost $335,000 to produce.”

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