Unidentified aerial phenomena, commonly referred to as UFOs, has been the focus of research by sociologists, scholars of religion, anthropologists, philosophers, and astronomers. The information age now offers new and innovative ways to study the phenomena, and author Diana Walsh Pasulka sat down with astronomer and computer scientist Jacques Vallee to discuss how “big data” and information processing will influence the field of study.
Settlers in North America during the 1600s and 1700s grew and raised all their own food, with tiny exceptions, such as importing tea. In the nineteenth century, well over 80 percent of the American public either lived at one time on a farm or made their living farming. Today, just over 1 percent does that in the United States, even though there is a surge going on in small organic family farming.
The internet is arguably the most important invention in recent history. To recognize its importance, World Internet Day is celebrated each year on October 29, the date on which the first electronic message was transferred from one computer to another in 1969. At that time, a UCLA student programmer named Charley Kline was working under the supervision of his professor Leonard Klinerock, and transferred a message from a computer housed at UCLA to one at Stanford.
We have reached an age where the trajectories of the advancement of technology including mobile applications, artificial intelligence, and virtual and augmented reality may rapidly spike at any given moment, potentiating an increased incidence of unforeseen consequences in the form of distraction-related morbidity. In the not-too-distant past, logging onto the internet meant sitting in front of a computer.
Mark Twain is reputed to have quipped, “Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Such hyperbole aptly applies to predictions that digital reading will soon triumph over print.
In late 2012, Ben Horowitz (co-founder of Andreessen Horowitz Venture Capital) declared, “Babies born today will probably never read anything in print.” Now four years on, the plausibility of his forecast has already faded.
When discussions arise about the utility of cyber-attacks in supporting conventional military operations, the conversation often moves quickly to the use of cyber-attacks during Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, the US decision not to use cyber-attacks in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, or Russia’s behavior in cyber-space surrounding the conflict with Ukraine that began in 2014. These, however, may not really be the most useful cases to examine.
Guglielmo Marconi is popularly known as “the inventor of radio,” a mischaracterization that critics and supporters of his many rivals are quick to seize upon. Marconi was actually the first person to use radio waves to communicate. His first patent was for “Improvements in Transmitting Electrical Impulses and Signals and in Apparatus Therefor,” and he considered what he was doing to be a form of wireless telegraphy.
Founded in 1966 by Billy Klüver, Fred Waldhauer, Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Whitman, Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) was a non-profit group that fostered collaboration between artists and engineers. Active between the 1960s and 1980s, E.A.T. recruited scientists and engineers to work with artists looking to incorporate new technologies into artworks, performances, and installations.
Platform businesses are the current darlings of digital disruption. Uber, Airbnb, Taskrabbit, and their ilk dodge the overheads of traditional businesses. Their services are provided by private contractors and not by employees with all of their expensive entitlements.
It would seem so obvious that they are information junkies. With 70 plus percent of the population over the age of 10 walking around with their smart phones—more computer than telephone—they often hold them in their hands so they can instantly keep up. E-books are popular, while the sale of hardcopy books continues to rise. The New York Times boasted in 2016 that it now had over a million online subscribers. A number close to that reads the Harvard Business Review.
Robert Whitman is a pioneering American artist who, in the company of other groundbreaking figures including Claes Oldenberg, Jim Dine, and Allan Kaprow, performed experimental performance art pieces in New York in the 1960s. In 1966, Whitman would become a founding member of the collective Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), along with Bell Labs engineers Billy Klüver and Fred Waldhaur and artist Robert Rauschenberg.
When I started research in radio astronomy in 1947, the only known sources of cosmic radio waves were the Sun and the Milky Way. Observing techniques were simple: receivers were insensitive, there was no expectation that other radio sources could be located or even existed. A few years later, a whole vast radio sky was revealed, populated with supernova remnants, galaxies, and quasars.
Where will Uber stop? After the news that the Saudi’s have decided to invest $3.5bn in the company, came details of a further $2bn Uber wants to raise from financial markets using tecniques never deployed before by a start-up.
At a theoretical level, the concept of artificial intelligence has fueled and sharpened the philosophical debates on the nature of the mind, intelligence, and the uniqueness of human beings. Insights from the field have proved invaluable to biologists, psychologists, and linguists in helping to understand the processes of memory, learning, and language.
The so-called Suess effect in radiocarbon (14C) has been known for decades. Geological sources of carbon like coal and oil, that formed many millions of years ago, long since lost their radiocarbon through radioactive decay – they contain 14C-free “dead” carbon. From the mid-19th century the radiocarbon activity of the atmosphere declined as dead carbon from fossil fuels was dug out of the ground and burnt producing carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.
The term ‘artificial intelligence’ was coined as long ago as 1956 to describe ‘the science and engineering of making intelligent machines’. The work that has happened in the subject since then has had enormous impact. Margaret Boden is Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex, and one of the best known figures in the field of Artificial Intelligence. We put four common questions to her about this exciting area of research.