The humanless restaurant = the paperless office?

Among a list of the world's weirdest restaurants, Yahoo! lists this gem:[more...]

Occupying Wall Street - 10/23/2011

"I am so proud to be here," said the folksinger Andy Cohen on Sunday afternoon. On arrival at Occupy Wall Street (at Zuccotti Park, under the shadow of the JP Morgan building), he did what he always does: run into people he knew and set up an impromptu band. That's what 50 years on the road does for you. By the time I got there, he and The Dust Busters string band were going strong. A day earlier, Pete Seeger marched a mile and a half or so d own Broadway singing songs and showing support – at 92.[more...]

Singularity Summit 2011

I spent last weekend at this year's Singularity Summit. Lots of stuff didn't make it into either of the write-ups I've done. I particularly liked Max Tegmark's discussion of the probability of extraterrestrial intelligence. Not so much for his broad assessment – which is that contrary to most people's interpretation of Drake's Law we are probably alone – but because of where it leads him. His argument is that if we are alone then instead of being insignificant compared to the universe we are in fact *more* significant – because how can a galaxy be beautiful if there is no intelligence there to appreciate it? It's sheer egotism on behalf of humanity, of course; but still. The other interesting speaker I couldn't quite fit into the write-up linked below was Stephen Wolfram, who is proposing that instead of being something we discover as natural law, mathematics is man-made. I don't pretend to understand his entire argument, though I recognize it as the same set of claims that was considered so controversial when he published them in his 2002 book, A New Kind of Science. But I want to understand his work better before commenting.[more...]

The Good Wife meets English libel law

I have written before about The Good Wife as the smartest technology show on (US) television; this week's episode (Season 3, episode 2, “The Death Zone”) takes on English libel law. The story begins when Alicia (Julianna Margulies) succeeds in defending a book author in a US court. The author is the brother of a a climber who has died on Mount Everest because, the author contends, a fellow climber had taken his oxygen bottle to help him on his own way to the summit. The accused climber produces a witness who says the events as recounted in the book are untrue. Alicia casts doubt on his testimony by pointing out that as the witness climbs without additional oxygen supplies, his perception in the death zone might have been altered, and that therefore the accuracy of his testimony cannot be relied upon to prove the plaintiff's contention that the author knowingly erred. Case dismissed. Or so she thinks. It's nice when your client hugs you.[more...]

Wikileaks books

My review of several of the leading books about Wikileaks is up at ZDNet UK[more...]

Open Data consultations

The opening last month of twin consultations on open data - Making Open Data Real and Public Data Corporation - is spurring a number of meetings to discuss how to respond. Today it was the Open Rights Group's turn to organize a brainstorming session.[more...]