The Human-Human Interface

Cheaper Laptops

Personal Infrastructure

MIT is not a large-scale manufacturer, so the practicality of this plan remains to be seen, but it seems clear that riding Moore’s Law to a much lower price point would do more to spread general purpose computing power to more people around the world.

“The MIT Media Laboratory expects to launch a prototype of its US$100 laptop in November, according to Nicholas Negroponte, the lab’s chairman and co-founder. The facility has been working with industry partners to develop a notebook computer for use by children in primary and secondary education around the world, particularly in developing countries. The laptops should start appearing in volume in late 2006. “In emerging nations, the issue isn’t connectivity,” Negroponte said at the Emerging Technologies Conference on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Cambridge campus Wednesday. “That’s not solved, but lots of people are working on it in Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, etc. For education, the roadblock is laptops.””

Google Boosts Wi-Fi

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

As I’ve said before, ”Wi-Fi technology looks like the most organic source of development of network infrastructure. Like phototropism, the bandwidth grows and develops in the direction of the most interest and need.” Sexy corporate funding will create buzz and might juice infrastructure in the short term, but centralized Fortune 500 planning may work counter to the natural evolution of the technology.

“’Google has submitted a proposal to offer free, wireless Internet access (Wi-Fi) to the entire city of San Francisco,’ Google said in a statement.”

Material Unity

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

This National Science Foundation report dates back to 2002, surveying convergent technologies in nanoscience, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science. The following quote from the introduction caught my eye recently

“Convergence of diverse technologies is based on material unity at the nanoscale and on technology integration from that scale. The building blocks of matter that are fundamental to all sciences originate at the nanoscale. Revolutionary advances at the interfaces between previously separate fields of science and technology are ready to create key transforming tools for NBIC technologies. Developments in systems approaches, mathematics, and computation in conjunction with NBIC allow us for the first time to understand the natural world, human society, and scientific research as closely coupled complex, hierarchical

systems. At this moment in the evolution of technical achievement, improvement of

human performance through integration of technologies becomes possible.”

Grids Within Grids

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

More lessons of the Internet applied to electricity generation. If we’re getting more wired, we need to deal with the environmental impact of greater electricification.

“Small networks of power generators in “microgrids” could transform the electricity network in the way that the net changed distributed communication. That is one of the conclusions of a Southampton University project scoping out the feasibility of microgrids for power generation and distribution…Microgrids are small community networks that supply electricity and heat. Microgrids, say the researchers, could easily integrate alternative energy production, such as wind or solar, into the electricity network. …That network could be made into a smart grid using more sophisticated software and grid computing technologies. As an analogy, the microgrids could work like peer-to-peer file-sharing technologies, such as BitTorrents, where demand is split up and shared around the network of “users”.”

A tip of the NeuroHat to the Da Vinci Institute News from the Future newsletter.

We’re All on the Solar Grid

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

This one may seem contradictory to the item I logged a couple days ago, about portable power. The whole thrust of solar energy true believers is to “get off the grid”. But in my view, you are just hooking into the much, much larger solar grid. The fact that this project is underwritten by software entrepreneur Bill Gross’s Idealab incubator, applying an Internet model of business development, underscores a convergence of interests around interconnection.

“Our solar energy systems empower environmentally conscious customers to achieve utility independence and save money on energy. Our expertise in engineering, capital financing, construction management, and customer service is the reason many of California’s forward-thinking companies have chosen to rely on EI Solutions.”

Location Based Services for the Newly Mobile

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

The viral success of the mobile phone industry, to the point of replacing the wireline phone in increasing numbers of households, brought the attention of the FCC to reinventing the 911 emergency service for the mobile world. This has spawned rapid growth in technologies for interconnecting the untethered – from established giants like Cisco to focused start-ups like Intrado. Intrado’s core corporate focus on E911 shouldn’t obscure the potential for other location-based services and capabilities – what’s the nearest pizza joint to where my car is right now?

“The Cisco Wireless Location Appliance is the industry’s first location solution that simultaneously tracks thousands of devices from directly within the WLAN infrastructure—bringing the power of a cost effective, high-resolution location solution to critical applications such as high-value asset tracking, IT management and location based security.”

Intrado provides the core of the nation’s 9-1-1 network and delivers innovative solutions to communications service providers and public safety organizations, including complex data management, network transactions, wireless data services and notification services.

Princeton Global Consciousness Project

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

A major academic institution has an ongoing project to compile the empirical evidence for a rising global consciousness. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

“Personal experience is supported by a growing number of good experiments which show that consciousness and intention have subtle but important effects in the world. We know that groups of people sometimes experience a special resonance of feelings and ideas, and recent scientific evidence indicates that effects of coherent group consciousness can be detected with appropriate instruments. The Global Consciousness Project (GCP) is an international collaboration of researchers extending this research to global dimensions via the Internet. The project uses technology and methods designed to record effects of events that stimulate us to integrate as a world-wide consciousness. Examples include the funeral ceremonies of Princess Diana, the first hour of NATO bombing in Yugoslavia, and a few minutes around midnight on any New Years Eve.”

“The Global Consciousness Project is an ongoing, long-term experiment, and the results from the instances that have been analyzed thus far show considerable evidence of a correlation between particular events and the data from our network of random event generators. A summary for nearly four years (to May, 2002) shows a highly significant result. It is tempting to draw the conclusion that a true global consciousness is creating the anomalous effects.”

RFID for Medical Records

Personal Infrastructure

Don’t want to carry a laptop all the time. Don’t even want to carry a PDA (even though it’s your cell phone?) I’m more interested in how I can access the world’s information, but this is how it cuts the other way.

“RFID chips would relieve doctors of having to spend hours searching for the identities of unknown patients and the confusion over unknown patients’ treatment preferences, he said. This would make RFID chips ideal for people who engage in extreme sports and do not carry their wallets, or for people with medical conditions that make them unable to communicate – although Halamka said the latter situation poses ethical dilemmas involving the issue of patient consent.”

(I found this in FuturEdition from the Arlington Institute (

Power to the People

Personal Infrastructure

The promise of personal access to the vast resources of the Internet seems tantalizing when wielding today’s powerful PCs. But for portability, battery life is still limiting. This research may serve to power the increasingly wired yet mobile individual.

“Rome et al have devised a machine that recovers energy that is otherwise wasted. They

have modified a backpack by introducing a vertically moveable weight that

rises about 5 centimeters with each step and then turns a gear as it falls.

This device can be used to recover some of the energy used in carrying

supplies–a load of 38 kilograms produces up to 7 watts of electricity,

compared with about 20 milliwatts from shoe-based devices.”

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Organic Evolution of Infrastructure

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

Wi Fi technology looks like the most organic source of development of network infrastructure. Like phototropism, the bandwidth grows and develops in the direction of the most interest and need.

The Champaign-Urbana Community Wireless Network (CUWiN) has built a communications network using wireless networking equipment. This is essentially the same “WiFi” equipment used in homes and offices, but we put it on rooftops to connect neighbors and form a high-speed community network.