Posts Tagged ‘technology’

During World War II, natives on Pacific islands saw something most unusual. Strange men appeared, cleared long strips of land and built structures decorated with flags. Some of these men wore large cups over their ears, while others waved sticks and, almost magically, machines appeared from the sky carrying valuable cargo.

After the war ended, the men left and the supplies stopped coming. Some of the natives formed cargo cults which copied many of the the rituals the soldiers performed. They marched in formation, wore cups over their ears and waved sticks around. Alas, no airplanes ever came.

Clearly, the idea was patently absurd. Anybody who thinks that waving sticks will cause airplanes to appear is missing some basic principles about how air travel works. Yet many modern executives also believe by mimicking the tactics of others they will somehow achieve the same results. These “cargo cult strategists” don’t do much better than the islanders.


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I find it interesting that in Snow Crash the (near) future has gotten completely out of hand, while in Anathem a world is depicted that develops more or less cyclically for thousands of years: after the high point of technology (roughly, today’s age) things stay more or less the same, society and prosperity going down and up cyclically without much news being added. Stephenson’s explanation for this is that most people prefer to deal with technology they can understand and tinker with, like internal combustion engines, rather than the more advanced space-age stuff that most Sci-Fi authors (including Stephenson, see Snow Crash) love to make up. Although nobody seems to object to the ubiquity of cell phones connected to the Internet — they are apparently too useful (for society, or for the plot) to ban.

Source: Neopythonic: Thoughts after reading Neal Stephenson’s Anathem

“An examination of the usage of writing implements in the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-centuries offers insight into the changing contemporary class and gender constructs and reveals the cultural significance of pens. “

Source: Early American Writing Implements: Their History and Cultural Significance

Source: A Brief History of Writing Instuments – Ink and Letters

Life is Getting Better: Societal Evolution and Fit with Human Nature.

NTU develops ultra-fast charging batteries that last 20 years

via News Detail.

From the Website:

Welcome 🙂

Everything here is so easy, that after you have gone through it, you can make a robot in a couple of hours. Why can’t you do that now?

Because there are so many little things you need to know. This is an attempt to let you know exactly all these little things, and nothing more. Fast, and based on 2 years of experience of what people need to know to get started. If you hurry, you can run through this, and be robot builder in a couple of hours. But expect to use a good weekend – Learning takes time – even though it is very easy, it just takes some time, all the little things to get to know 🙂

There are other “How to get started building robots” out there. This one is focusing on getting you around everything extremely fast. You need no knowledge of … anything. And you will learn everything… well, the basics of everything 😉

All images in high-res here.

How to make your first robot | Let’s Make Robots!.

Fast is never fast enough

via Speed Kills – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

This short article makes one think. For one, if you define technology to include any technique or tool, computer based or not, you realize that there are some interesting patterns connected with new educational perspectives, new research implications, etc.


Hype Cycle Research Methodology | Gartner Inc..


Excerpt from webpage:

How Do Hype Cycles Work? (

Each Hype Cycle drills down into the five key phases of a technology’s life cycle.

Technology Trigger: A potential technology breakthrough kicks things off. Early proof-of-concept stories and media interest trigger significant publicity. Often no usable products exist and commercial viability is unproven.

Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early publicity produces a number of success stories—often accompanied by scores of failures. Some companies take action; many do not.

Trough of Disillusionment: Interest wanes as experiments and implementations fail to deliver. Producers of the technology shake out or fail. Investments continue only if the surviving providers improve their products to the satisfaction of early adopters.

Slope of Enlightenment: More instances of how the technology can benefit the enterprise start to crystallize and become more widely understood. Second- and third-generation products appear from technology providers. More enterprises fund pilots; conservative companies remain cautious.


Plateau of Productivity: Mainstream adoption starts to take off. Criteria for assessing provider viability are more clearly defined. The technology’s broad market applicability and relevance are clearly paying off.

Researchers from MIT’s Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems have developed an algorithm in which distributed agents — such as robots exploring a building — collect data and analyze it independently. Pairs of agents, such as robots passing each other in the hall, then exchange analyses.

In experiments involving several different data sets, the researchers’ distributed algorithm actually outperformed a standard algorithm that works on data aggregated at a single location, as described in an arXiv paper.



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