A Thousand mouths all babbling

Assignment Zero is interesting in that it is open to anyone who wants to contribute their time and their knowledge to assignments that are posted on the board or discussion. Given that the project is so open ended, there exists the possibility that there are people out there who have the time to work on it, but can do so with malicious intent.

The only real limits to participation in Assignment Zero are the choices you make, as well as your time, interest, and imagination. If there are areas we should be researching, tell us. If there are other ways to get the work done, share. This is your project as much as it is ours, so please take it where you think it should go.

According to the outlining pages of the project, there will be editors and fact checkers, and a registry/login for all those who want to participate. With the editors there, most anything will be filtered first before it is posted for the world to see, however if someone signs on who “intends to be funny,” then the fact checkers have to spend time to clean up the mess. This would be problematic in a few ways, that combined, would spiral out of control. First of all, malicious postings have to be checked for accuracy, leading to wasting the editors time and effort to clean it up. Second, if enough people are maliciously posting, it eats the editor’s time even more, allowing more inaccurate information to sit on the site for longer periods of time until the editors can get to it. The longer the information has to sit there, the more it will spread to those who partake of the site for information, leading to widespread inaccuracies. If it remains for too long unchecked, many newer posters might come to rely on the previous as being true information. Another thing that hurts the open ended part is that many you can fool the registering part of the website, remaining totally anonymous in this day and age, making it harder to catch any pranksters posting funny information. Many people will post this way, either because they truly don’t know any better, or they are doing so to be mean, and some might want the project to fail.

One way to keep this from happening is to see how many regular non-journalistic people have registered for the site and make sure that either there is a certain ratio of editors to people or to see to it that there are more certified editors than posters if possible.


Mobbing you for your phone

In Howard Rheingold’s own blog he talks about an argument that Scott Sanders has about smart mobs not being all that common even today. In part of Scott’s article, Scott cites that people will only gather into a smart mob if the text being sent to them relates to them in some manner:

People will not respond to any message, just the ones that they feel are relevant to them. Second, while the social identities that could potentially lead to a smart mob likely persist over time, the social climate must be exact in order for smart mobs to develop. Social identities must be activated via the process of social-categorization by contextual features in the environment or by interaction with others.

He also states that we must first be socialized individuals as well. In either case people will respond to things, even if it doesn’t relate to them. Many people will respond to a text to do something because “everyone is doing it,” thereby showing that they are not acting individually either(usually seen most often with teenagers who want to fit into the clique- defined popularity contest). Chain letters/emails work in much the same fashion, spreading because their friends sent it to them or because they might get something for it. How do you explain the myriad of computer viruses that spread due to people thinking they’ve won something based on a message they’ve just received? Just because it is not directly related to the situation of the person receiving the message does not mean that the person is not going to respond in some manner. There also does not really need to be any social unrest going on to make people want to gather based on a text message. Take college students as an example- many students will attend functions that they’ve been told about, but doesn’t relate to them purely on the idea that there might be free food/stuff. I know I’ve attended many a function, not because I was interested in the subject matter or that it involved something about me, but merely because there might be free food. In a few cases, I’ve attended just because there might be some form of entertainment value for me. Anyway, people will click on something/attend an event just to satisfy the natural curiosity inherent in human nature- they don’t need a reason- they just want to find out what is going on, and in some cases it just happens to end up bringing a social change or government upset. How many times have you gone somewhere/attended a function just because the way it was worded piqued your interest?

The Machine cometh

Social robots are already a lot closer than you think. Kismet and Leo are two such examples. Robots are only now getting into the stage where they are learning to think for themselves.

But what the M.I.T. robots may lack in looks or finesse, they make up for in originality: they are programmed to learn the way humans learn, through their bodies, their senses and the feedback generated by their own behavior. It is a more organic style of learning

This is the way most humans learn to interact with each other as well. Babies grow up emulating their parents in how to act with other humans, using voice inflection, emotions and body language to get the point across. Robots are now taking their baby steps into the world of self thought.

Kismet is the thing that looks like Gizmo the gremlin. Leo is the skinny ewok looking thing. So far Kismet can only babble in R2-D2 like speech and has the emotional range of a 3 year old. She looks strange because of all the sensors on her head, leading to her Gizmo like appearance. Being an early generation emotional robot, Kismet does not have the movement range of Leo. Kismet reacts to how you act with it- act happy or give her praise and she perks up; scold her or act violently and she turns away

Kismet can says things when she is told to so so and in this clip is saying the same thing “Do you really think so?” but with a wide range of feelings

Leo on the other hand may not say anything, but he learns by going through the problem and is able to apply what he’s learned to a new problem with similar parameters. Developed in conjunction with Stan Winston Studios. Leo in this video is only missing his furry outer covering that he was shown wearing in the first video.

We are still very far off from developing this kind of robot that can think for itself with no outside intervention, and is wholely capable of self propulsion.

Ancient Honeymen

Close-up of one of the ancient beehives found at Tel Rehov in Israel. These two sites, cnn.com and anthropology.net both cover the recent story of a 3000 year old beehive that was unearthed at Tel Rehov in Israel’s Beth Shean Valley. While both sites skim over the possibilities of what the hives mean and their construction, they take a slightly different view on how ancient beehives might have been worshiped. Cnn.com casually glimpses over how small religious figures were found near the hives. Anthropology.net does mention the possibility of religion, but abhors even discussing it and giving credence to Biblical evidence by giving you the link to it, and nothing else.

Putting aside the bombardment of biblical references this press release has, the findings of one of the first apiaries known dating from the 10th to early 9th centuries B.C.E…..

Anthropology.net does quote a large section of article that does contain bits about an altar and religious practices, but they decided to let you form your own opinions on the Bible as historical evidence of ancient Israel. Anthropology.net just quotes the men leading the research team Amihai Mazar and Eleazar L. Sukenik, and their hypothesis as to what the figurines represent

Cultic objects were also found in the apiary, including a four-horned altar adorned with figures of naked fertility goddesses, as well as an elaborately painted chalice. This could be evidence of deviant cultic practices by the ancient Israelites related to the production of honey and beeswax.

Here, Amihai Mazar and Eleazar L. Sukenik mention nothing of the Bible. They only hypothesize that there might have been cult worship to bring about a greater honey bounty. The article that Anthropology.net wont touch, but links to is filled with how every small thing is linked to passages in the Bible, even the mysterious jar “to nmsh” Without any other historical evidence, the religious site attributes the jars to Nimshi, a possibly fictional character in the Bible. This is probably why Anthropology.net and Cnn.com wont touch the possible religious nature of the artifacts. Without direct historical evidence, a third source is attributing the time frame and location to figures in the Bible, which has not been proven to be a historically accurate book of evidence and data.

Extinction of the book?

This might not be a book burning, but it shows on way that books might be on the path of the dodo especially with the influx of a number of technologies that tend to make us lazy:

Here’s the direct link if the picture above is too tiny to see: http://i83.photobucket.com/albums/j312/senior_draco/Untitled-2.jpg
Note.. this was not the originally intended comic for this past Sunday. The Dallas Morning News re ran this old one in place of the one they did not like probably because of its view of the middle-east’s not conforming to what America wants: