What a peanut!
Have you recently had unprotected sex? Many doctors and trained professionals in other relevant fields now believe that unprotected sex may be a precursor to pregnancy. In light of these astounding reports, I’ve created this helpful Online Pregnancy Test:
Embedded sensors give once-silent systems a voice, and it turns out they have plenty to say.
You don’t need a therapist to tell you communication is the key to a healthy relationship. When all parties involved are expressing their needs effectively, only then will an exchange be mutually beneficial. But what if you don’t speak the same language? Or what if one party can’t communicate at all?
The relationship that we have with our immediate surroundings, and with the environment at large, has always been fairly one-sided. On the planetary scale, it often takes decades of gathering quantitative data before confident assertions can be made about natural systems. And then there’s the time it takes to change established social behaviors in response to those findings. But now, thanks to the proliferation of powerful, low-cost sensors, our natural and artificial worlds are being given their own voice. These environmental whispers are providing dynamic illustrations of the planet’s condition and performance in real-time, and allowing us to understand and address issues more rapidly.
As Padmasree Warrior, chief technology and strategy officer at Cisco, in an interviewwith the American Civil Liberties Union explains:
“We estimate that only one percent of things that could have an IP address do have an IP address today, so we like to say that ninety-nine percent of the world is still asleep. It’s up to our imaginations to figure out what will happen when the ninety-nine percent wakes up.”
If these walls could talk, right? But why stop with the walls? It turns out that if dumpsters could talk, cities could cut waste management costs by 40%. That means less noisy trucks to wake you up in the morning, less fuel burning up into the atmosphere and all around less garbage sitting around your city for less time. All this from a clever little system from a company called Enevo. By placing wireless sensors in waste containers, Enevo is able to create optimized pick-up routes based on the amount of garbage in each bin. Of course, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The comprehensive system takes account of truck availability, traffic information, road closures and a lot more. But if a little data can make that big of a change, imagine what we could do with big data.
In the Spanish city of Santander, a network of 12,000 sensors communicates what’s happening in town. Integrating these devices into new and existing city infrastructure — such as street lights, public signage and roads — has added an incredible new depth to the way that people are able to engage with their environment. Authorities now have access to real-time data on things like utilities, traffic, energy consumption and pollution. Residents get updates on available parking spaces and public transit, and they can use an app to notify the city of public annoyances like potholes (or too-noisy neighbors). The project, SmartSantander, was launched in 2010, with an initial budget of €6 million (roughly US$8 million) from the European Commission. That may seem like a large investment, but having access to real-time data has already cut the city’s electrical bill by 25%. Those walls aren’t so special now, are they?
Recently the MTA installed a bunch of touchscreen info-kiosks, which is great. For tourists.
For the people who live in New York, and depend on the MTA to get them everywhere they need to be (and who pay for the privilege), the kiosks are little more than animated billboards.
If, in addition to the kiosks, the MTA were to install a network of small cell nodes and create a dedicated app for LTE enabled phones, the organization would be able to offer (and take advantage of) a number of benefits. Stuff like real-time schedule updates, train traffic and station closures. Plus other useful MTA announcements about how our grandchildren will love the 2nd Ave line, and that (though you haven’t seen them) tons of left-field stations are now outfitted with LED time-to-wait signs.
Unlike Wi-Fi, which becomes less effective with more people using it, LTE actually works better because it creates a sort of mesh network. Each station could be equipped with a main router that would transmit data to the trains as they pass, and that data would be accessed by the passengers as they ride. With a dedicated app, the MTA could offer curated news and entertainment content through media partnerships as well as location-based ads and notifications through business partnerships. This could be a potentially huge stream of revenue for the MTA as the pricing could range from city-wide to hyper-local and could be targeted to an individual level (opt-in).
While, unfortunately, a direct line of communication to its ridership is probably not high on the MTA’s list of awesome things, it would let riders and employees report unsafe or concerning conditions quickly. Improving response times for emergency responders or maintenance and repair. If it was a welcome addition they might even consider adding a peer to peer feature in which friends could communicate directly over the LTE spectrum while riding the train. To what advantage? Who knows. There do seem to be a number of Missed Connections about that looker on the train.
The number one benefit this would provide to the MTA would be data. Data data data. So much data. Data about who rides the trains and where they go every day. If those business and media partnerships were in place, there would be data about content preferences and what local deals they were receptive to.
Eventually, the MTA could make use of this app as a method of swipeless entry to replace metrocards (which for a number of reasons are not cost effective). It seems to be on the horizon (still) anyway. So, for riders, this would be fantastic for all the reasons we’d expect. Quicker, more efficient, more convenient, etc. For the MTA this would be incredible. It would allow the organization to combine rider data with credit profiles. Mining that data could predict up and coming neighborhoods years before they blow up. Even as I write this I realize, by all cool standards, that this is pretty evil. But it’s also a real possibility and a lucrative opportunity. By all logic I would expect that some form of this is a certainty.
The biggest hurdles to get this sort of system implemented are probably political. Small cell networks are going to be implemented all over to help mitigate data traffic anyhow. If there were interest in this sort of thing, a number of technology companies would probably shell out at least some of the initial investment needed to install it. Why? Because, as a fairly neat series of tubes beneath a mess of chaotic humanity and commerce, the NYC subway is essentially a physical version of Google search.
In college I took a class called “The Craft of Translation”. At some point my professor, Mark Statman, posed this question:
“Is there a perfect form of translation?”
As in, are these many translations, between languages, and across millennia, seeking a perfect form? If so, is there that for them to find?
I said yes. The professor, and the class, did not agree. Here’s my deal:
If we choose to keep something with us as we womb on into eternity, it’s because that thing is a reflection of our Someday Self. That ideal of losses and gains that we shape through our ages. If our future has an end, then the collective persona we’ve chosen by then will be perfection. If we’re infinite, then perfection is now.
Our losses and gains, failures and successes, the do’s and don’ts of posterity, are exactly the craft of translation. So: fuck yeah.
As for a perfect execution of the task of translation, that’s a muddier question, because that’s all about individuals, and individuals are muddy things. Individuals only know perfection. Right now is the moment of perfection for everything we are and everything around us. This is exactly when everything that exists is all that it will ever be, for now. As a whole, we’ve seen that certain things should be and others shouldn’t, but now is the moment of choice.
Here’s a snippet from somebody else’s meditation on the topic:
“The answer, perhaps, lies again with Plato and his allegory of the cave. If the translations that we produce are shadows, poor reflections of some sort of ideal, then, in a sense, the search for a better version is a worthwhile endeavour in itself. Woe betide the translator who is satisfied! We should always be attempting to produce a better text, a more polished translation, a clearer document.
The translation that we produce is a constantly-flickering shadow of nether-text, always moving, always bending. Our aim is to pin it down, flesh it out, make it whole. What could be more rewarding? The knowledge that our final text is simply a twisted shadow is the first step in the search for the ultimate signified which can be found (perhaps) at the end of a long and shadowy chain of signifiers.”
If you choose to share a thing, an experience, idea, or whatever, it’s because it fits into that reflection of the someday self, which, at an individual level, is just whatever your ideal self happens to be now. That’s perfection.
The perfect form of translation would be an exact communication of how a thing is to you now. If you could offer another individual the exact mix of reality that you experience when experiencing a thing, then that is a perfect translation.
Some dude named Toby Turner made a Dramatic Song (it’s pretty funny and has like 18M views, amazingly), and this is a cut of the lyrics:
“A perfect translation does not exist.
Well, at least, not in your language.
But if you must know, well, picture this:
Fifty billion rainbows,
and the sun is setting,
and the moon is setting, also,
and you’re there in a gazebo.
And then God descends from heaven
and He gives you a million dollars.
Take that feeling,
and put it into a song.”
So break down experience, say, with a device that records precisely the physiological reactions you have at the moment of experience, and then subject another person to exactly that, and, bam, you’ve got a perfect translation.
What’s up with that though is that you would be muddying their experience of a thing with so much of your individual goop that blah blah blah. But no two translations are alike anyhow. That was the number one takeaway from this class that was taught by a man whose translations are often the only versions of famous and beautiful poems that many people who enjoy them have ever, or will ever, read, or read. A translation is just as much an expression of the translator’s essential understanding of a work as the original author’s.
Is there a perfect translation? Yes. I’d say so. You can disagree, but speak up now. Perfection is a question of longevity, and now’s your chance to answer. There’s no time like eternity, after all.
[NOTE: If you care, the question of a perfect translation also has a whole thread on an actual forum for translators.]
When we are constantly broadcasting information about ourselves to the world around us, can it expand the ways our opportunities for interactions?
Any kid coming out of grade school is familiar with the five senses. Touch, taste, hearing, sight, and smell are our primary tools for gathering information about and making sense of the world around us. But more than ever, perceiving our immediate surroundings and beyond is done with technological assistance.
In just a few decades, the Internet has allowed a global community to grow, share and react, comment and collaborate. In the years ahead, more Internet-connected things, many of them other things located continents away, will be joining people as they carry on their own conversations.
As of this year, Cisco Systems estimates that 100 ‘things’ are being connected to the Internet each second. By 2020 it’ll be more like 250. That’s 21.6 million every day.
The data generated and shared by these things may be useful to you — after all their world is your world. This growing network of interconnected devices will be the foundation of a new dynamic in collaborative insight. These objects will give you access to a new type of collective sensory perception, like a “Shared Awareness” that we could further drill down into at the individual level.
In this brave new device ecosystem that better connects us to our physical environment and each other, wearable and mobile devices are automatically capturing and broadcasting contextually relevant information at key moments to enable a seamless flow of communication between people. These systems are continually monitoring individual data like location and activity level to deliver a pre-programmed set of notifications to a trusted peer group, activating a network around timely support and care.
In a recent study by the Pew Research Center, Joe Touch, director at the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute, described future scenarios that could become commonplace.
“The Internet will shift from the place we find cat videos to a background capability that will be a seamless part of how we live our everyday lives,” he said in the report. “We won’t think about ‘going online’ or ‘looking on the Internet’ for something—we’ll just be online, and just look.”
Over the past few years we’ve seen the rise of mobile apps like Highlight that sync with your various social media profiles and the GPS hardware in your phone to notify you when somebody you might get along with is nearby.
Services like these can be helpful to professionals looking to network, recruiters searching for potential employees (and vice versa), or for anybody who wants to connect with new people. They can help someone make friends in a new town, or get introduced to students at a new school.
The evolution of a tool like Highlight is seen in a device like Wizz.
Created by Lunar design, Wizz is a rock-shaped pendant that will vibrate based on cues from social media, as well as content on apps we use like our queues on Netflix or iTunes playlists. The gentle haptic feedback is meant to mimic the “butterflies-in-your-stomach” feeling that happens when a crush catches your eye. Think of it as a way to break the ice without breaking out the cheesy pick-up lines.
Another example of the marriage between connected sensors and haptic devices is The Alert Shirt, designed by wearable technology company We:eX (Wearable Experiments).
This sports jersey lets fans experience first-hand what their favorite athletes are feeling in real-time. The jolt of nerves as they steal home, that impact as they take that game winning kick, or the crush of a hockey stick as they get slammed against the boards. It might be best to stick with low-impact sports on that one.
When people are more connected in this way on a global scale, imagine what that will mean for us closer to home.
To be happy. That, according to the Dalai Lama, is the purpose of life. Aristotle touted happiness as humanity’s highest aim. You may not agree but it’s a good bet that, in your own life, living well and doing well in your chosen pursuits are ideas you can get behind.
To that end, creatives and inventors are developing new products that can help us cross the gap between simply wanting to live well and actually doing so, or setting goals and accomplishing them. These devices work by giving us the prompts and motivation we need — a sort of “Behavioral Nudge,” if you will — to drive our intentions into actions.
Soon enough these technologies will be all around us, helping us make smarter decisions, or positive tweaks in our habits and routines. Put simply, they will help us to help ourselves.
Today, the self-improvement industry is worth about $10.4 billion in the United States alone, and is expected to grow by some 5.5% each year, according to a report byMarketdata Enterprise. Where once the self-help blockbusters were often guides to practical spirituality, the new guard of books, seminars, and websites offer an air of veneration to the simple art of living practically. It is the guiding message behind one of the few industries that has actually gained momentum during the recession.
It’s natural to desire getting the most out of our lives. The idea that we could be more productive or creative, that we could make better decisions, that we could have more time to pursue our passions, or that — hidden just over the hurdles of our own self-doubt or inexperience — there lies some revolutionary product or service that we could offer the world. These thoughts are the foundations of individual aspiration and human progress as a whole.
Instead of sage advice from the pages of books, or the sermons of professional life-coaches, the next generation of self-improvement aides will likely be more subtle, but also more ubiquitous and personal. We see its early incarnations on people’s wrists in products like the Samsung Gear Fit, Jawbone’s Up, and the Nike+ FuelBand. Instead of striving to match our lifestyles to ready-made formulas for success, we will be able to organize and learn from insights into our own unique biologies, personalities, activities, and individual challenges.
“We may well see wearable devices and/or home and workplace sensors that can help us make ongoing lifestyle changes and provide early detection for disease risks, not just disease,” said Aron Roberts, a software developer at the University of California-Berkeley, in a recent Pew Research study.
“We may literally be able to adjust both medications and lifestyle changes on a day-by-day basis or even an hour-by-hour basis, thus enormously magnifying the effectiveness of an ever more understated medical delivery system.”