More and more autonomous

I know that this is older news, however I still love reading articles
about this race.  This is truly amazing and is going to alter a
lot of things.  The fact that a computerized car can drive itself
131.6 miles and avoid getting stuck.  Oh yeah … and this is only
2005.  So what are we going to be hearing about in 2010?

With the current rate of technological advances, five years is a huge amount of time for amazing developments to occur.

Driverless robots reach milestone in DARPA race.
Stanford University’s Racing Team has accomplished a historic feat of
robotics, finishing first in the DARPA Grand Challenge, a 131.6-mile
driverless car race that no artificially intelligent machine has ever
conquered before.

Stanford’s “Stanley,… [ Accelerating Intelligence News]

The word ‘Identity’

I liked reading Phil’s post about the word ‘Identity’.  This is
one of the core issues surrounding the subject … the definitions and
understanding of the words.  Without a common language and lexicon
it becomes very difficult to nail down specifics on anything!

Years ago while looking into Identity I came across an article that
discussed the origins of the word … and it was a real breakthrough
for me.  From, Identity is:

[French identité, from Old French identite, from Late Latin identits, from Latin idem, the
(influenced by Late Latin essentits, being,, and identidem, repeatedly), from id, it. See i-
in Indo-European Roots.]

“Being the same as” … so the two core thoughts in this are that it is
something that is derived from observing, and it is relative or
comparative.  There is an observer who assigns you identity by
comparing you – or some aspect of you – to something else that is
known.  I believe this is the cornerstone of identity.

On the Word ‘Identity’.

On the way back from a meeting in Salt Lake this afternoon, I was
pondering the word ‘identity’ and the way it is used in the physical
world and the way we use it in the world of IT. Something I heard on
NPR set off this navel gazing–I can’t remember what. Coincidentally,
when I got to my office, I found this post from Tim Greyson on the living language of identity. And so, a post…

If I ask my wife, kids, or neighbors “what is identity?” they
answer in various ways that I think reduce, at their most basic level,
to this: “identity the sum total of who I am…my uniqueness.” It
includes not only attributes like height, eye color, and so on, but
also their personality, hopes, and dreams–everything that makes them
them. One way of sussing this out is to ask: do identity twins have
different identities? We would say yes, even when we can’t tell them

[Phil Windley’s Technometria]

Next generation electronic companies

My father worked for Westinghouse Electric Corporation for over 30
years.  While growing up I was introduced to the broad range of
products created and produced by Westinghouse … from appliances, to
power generation, to nuclear power plants, to military radar.  To
me is was amazing the breadth of products and markets that Westinghouse
participated in … from consumer products to advanced military weapons.

This article reminded me of this same scenario with a slight
twist.  The folks at iRobot are not only the producers of the
Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner, but also some very advanced military
robots.  If you haven’t yet listened to the talk by Helen Greiner
– co-founder and chairman of iRobot – she gave a great presentation at Accelerating Change 2004.  It’s very cool to see a company like this involved in such a wide range of applied technologies.

iRobot unveils sniper detector. The robot maker equips its PackBot combat device with gear to help soldiers find enemy marksmen. [CNET]

Remote control … using your brain!

There are many ways in which the interface between humans and computers
has evolved in recent years, however I think that the biggest jumps are
about to occur.  This article is an example of just how far things
are progressing.  We are now able to isolate specific thoughts
with electrodes placed strategically around the scalp.

My thoughts are not about how to detect thoughts of walking … but
instead how the detection of thoughts can be converted to new forms of
communications.  What if I could think
about sending a message to you, and the computer would generate an
e-mail or an SMS message to you?  I actually think that research
like this is taking us closer and closer to ‘artificial telepathy’ …
technology that will allow us to ‘think’ to each other.

Computer users move themselves with the mind.
Computer scientists have created a brain-computer interface that can
read your thoughts. It allows you to stroll down a virtual street. All
you have to do is think about walking.

The technology detects brain waves by using electrodes placed at st… [ Accelerating Intelligence News]

The Identity of Mr. Mouse

In most of the conversations about “digital identity” we want to stick
to us humans.  How we make our lives better, easier, more secure,
more private.  There are a couple of flaws that I continue to see
in the process and thinking that, IMHO, are only going to grow and
continue to impart new pressures on our thoughts.

  • Most of the planning is being done by “old people” who have a lot invested in legacy “identity” systems.

As  part of the more “mature” component of the computer industry,
I can say that the conversations that I hear about identity are often
oriented towards solutions for people who have not had their identity
gathered and managed for them from birth.  As I wrote in my
earlier post about Tracking Identity … Cradle to Grave,
there is a whole new generation of children on this planet who will
have their identity accumulated – and available – in whole new
ways.  I believe that the digital identity management solutions
ought to consider a focus on younger generations, rather that how to
deal with legacy Internet 1.0 humans.

My analogy in this is thinking about digital music collections. 
For many people my age or older, the thought of digitizing their music
collection is a monumental task … having to find ways to encode audio
for record albums!  But for the average teen today, there is no
problem … all of their music is already digital as MP3s, or maybe
they have some CDs … which are easily ripped.  With the next
generation of humans, few will know anything but digital music, aquired
via the Internet.

If we focus all of our time looking for ways to solve the “legacy
human” problems, I’m not sure that we’ll do justice for the 2.0 and 3.0
humans coming after us.

So what is the other issue?

  • We keep thinking about humans like us … not the humans, or non-humans, of the future.

I read this article this morning on CNN:  Mice grow human cells after injections
… wow, very cool.  More work that is leading to the potential of
some very interesting life forms.  And this is only the
beginning.  Yes, I fully understand that these experiments are not
creating human-like entities today.  But this is only today. 
Where are we going to be in 10 years?

For those of you who have not read Accelerando I would suggest that
you do.  Much of the content of this book is one possible
extrapolation forward of the current day research that we are
doing.  There is already a considerable amount of thought around mind uploading, and even the personal identity of uploads
I started to really think about the issues of “identity of uploads”,
and even “rights of uploads” … since these are going to be the issues
facing our society in the coming years.  (What is considered the ‘murder’ of an upload?)  It’s not about if … but when.

In the CNN article about the mice, they claim that 0.1 percent of the
brain is based on human cells.  When this number increases, what
will emerge?  If not in mice (since the brain cavity might not be
able to contain enough cumulative neurons to cause emergent behaviors)
then in what strange hybrid entity might we see human-like behaviors
emerge?  When they do, will we be able to integrate these new
entities into society?  If not in physical meat-space, but in the
Internet, new forms of consious life emerge … will the various
digital identity systems being designed today take into account how to
verify their identity, and track their attributes?  Are we even thinking about these coming events?

I have another post that I want to write eventually … about the fact
that “Uploads don’t have fingerprints” … not in the same sense as we

Microsoft Research and Mesh Networking

I have been following the work that Microsoft is doing in their Windows Peer To Peer Networking
This is actually some very impressive technology that allows for a
distributed set of users to create peer-to-peer groups for exchanging
data and information.  I’m working on some applications (actually
plug-ins for GoBinder) that are going to exploit this
technology.  Microsoft has put together a Peer To Peer SDK allowing you to perform name-to-IP name resolution (PNRP
– a serverless DNS technology), along with graphing and grouping APIs
for the transfer of data between the peers.  It’s all very
impressive stuff … and is in all Windows XP SP2 machines … and will
be in all Vista machines.  The bottom line … this is going to
drastically alter how ad-hoc groups of users on Windows machines will
be able to locate each other, communicate, and collaborate.

Today, I found yet another amazing technology out of Microsoft Research
For years I have been tracking the “wireless mesh networking”
space.  This is where each node in a wireless network is a
repeater/relay for any other node that is within range.  With true
mesh technologies I can communicate with other users, even if they are
beyond the reach of my wireless signal, if there are one or more nodes
between us that are part of the “mesh” network.  Mesh networks are
the next big thing … even the cellular carriers are talking about
adding emergency mesh capabilities into cell phones.

What I found today is that Microsoft Research
has code available today that will allow you to experiment with some
pretty advanced mesh networking using your Windows XP machine! 
The Microsoft Research Networking Research Group has released their Mesh Networking software, and even an Mesh Networking Academic Resource Toolkit
I’ve started to go through the documentation, and so far this is a very
impressive solution.  They have embraced and extended some of the
standards that are currently being developed:

We implement ad-hoc routing and link quality measurement in a module that we
call the Mesh Connectivity Layer (MCL). Architecturally, MCL is a loadable
Microsoft Windows driver. It implements a virtual network adapter, so that to
the rest of the system the ad-hoc network appears as an additional (virtual)
network link. MCL routes using a modified version of DSR (an IETF protocol) that
we call Link Quality Source Routing (LQSR). We have modified DSR extensively to
improve its behavior, most significantly to support link quality metrics.

The MCL driver implements an interposition layer between layer 2 (the link
layer) and layer 3 (the network layer). To higher layer software, MCL appears to
be just another Ethernet link, albeit a virtual link. To lower layer software,
MCL appears to be just another protocol running over the physical link.

I am really impressed to see this work this far along.  I have
been waiting for years to see mesh networking hit the masses … and
this is now getting close.  I’m now going to upgrade some of my
wearable computers to Windows XP just to experiment with this!

How portable are these lie detectors?

When I read something like this, I start to wonder just how portable a system like this can be made?

Brain imaging ready to detect terrorists, say neuroscientists.
Brain-imaging techniques that reveal when a person is lying are now
reliable enough to identify criminals, with 99% accuracy, claim
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine researchers.

When someone lies, their brain inhibits them from telli… [ Accelerating Intelligence News]

Tracking Identity … Cradle to Grave

It is only a matter of time before this is going on almost
everywhere.  It seems today that most of our government tracked
actions are recorded … but in many different and separate
databases.  This appears to be an effort for the Dutch citizens to
see a unification of their identity information for a variety of
sociological benefits.  Yes … I know that many people are
cringing at this.  To me it only makes sense that it’s going ot
occur … it’s inevitable.

Dutch Treat: Personal Database.
Starting in 2007, every baby born in the Netherlands will receive a
Citizens Service Number and will have an electronic dossier opened in a
central database. This will allow Dutch authorities to track each
citizen from cradle to grave. [Wired News]

More advances with RNA

It was recently at Accelerating Change 2005
that I heard Ray Kurzweil talk about more advances in RNA Interference
This is a powerful process where we can now alter the expression of
various genes using RNA.  This article demonstrates yet another
powerful use of RNA in our continuing exploration of genetics. 
Just imagine where we are going to be in the next five to ten years!

Purdue scientists treat cancer with RNA nanotechnology. Sep 14 2005 7:02PM GMT [Moreover Technologies – moreover…]