Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Dangerous chemicals in our food and food containers: new findings

Finally: a study that highlights the dangers of low level exposure/ low doses of certain commonly used chemicals for use in food or food containers:


The implications are substantial and far reaching. Yet another example where the precautionary principle was not applied.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

University 3.0 or the end of the traditional education

This article http://www.spiegel.de/unispiegel/studium/0,1518,817889,00.html  is just the tip of the iceberg.  Ever since some elite universities started to upload lectures or even complete courses on the internet, access to ivy league education became part of the flat(ter) world.  Let's extrapolate a bit. In 10 years in time this is what graduate 3.0 can look like: not a degree from one university but a portfolio of courses taken mostly on line, combined  (optionally) with some face to face courses at a nearby university. The on-line courses would be those from top of the field lecturers and professors. With the arrival of wide spread holographic teleconferencing software/ hardware, the on line experience would emulate face to face teaching. The wealth of courses and experience would give rise to very interesting degrees. The combined total of courses taken might even exceed those of a regular three year degree.  It would be highly individual and, in some cases, probably too narrow. But market forces will take care of that.   International accreditation institutes or some forward thinking universities could then, on the basis of the portfolio, decide to award degrees.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Evolution, xenophobia and non-acceptance of all things 'foreign'

Fear of the unknown and adherence to a status quo must be the leading causes for the persistence of xenophobia and other forms of hatred against anything that is not in full compliance with our 'normal' state of affairs. The book that describes this behaviour in a very poignant and chilling form is 'The painted bird' by Jerzy Kosinski.

Fortunately this type of behaviour cannot be dominant as otherwise little progress would have been made of the aeons. Probably a form of balanced polymorphism.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The intellectual and singularity.

We need to redefine what constitutes an 'intellectual'. Wikipedia defines it:" an intellectual is a person who uses intellect in either a professional or an individual capacity". In an abstract way this is still usable. But what does an intellectual need to know? What topics should she or he be able to discuss in an intelligent manner? Even to discuss a topic at a basic level one has to have a knowledge base. Intellectual 1.0 was/is, typically, a voracious and eclectic reader. Intellectual 2.0 would also have that kind of an appetite but combines it with solid search and computing skills. But what about Intellectual 3.0?  Kurzweil's Singularity would turn us all into a combination of Einsteins, Newtons, Hawkings, Curies etc.  But will that make us true intellectuals in the old style?  I doubt it.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Cloud digger

Cloud diggers

There should be a discussion about what I believe may become an interesting and potentially lucrative opportunity. With the increase in cloud computing, many users will store important data in the cloud.  What will happen to that potential gold mine of data once the owner dies, becomes incapacitated or otherwise incapable of retrieving, accessing these data.  There are many ethical, financial and legal issues here that need to be addressed. 

Peter Hoeben