MonthSeptember 2012

Dalai Lama Says Religion Is No Longer Sufficient For Ethics

Dalai Lama

Via io9, here’s what … wrote on Facebook according to io9:

All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.

io9: Dalai Lama tells his Facebook friends that religion “is no longer adequate”

The Dalai Lama has been saying he hopes for a woman to succeed him and has also said it’s possible he will have no successor.

Photo by Luca Galuzzi / CC

Count

Quinn Norton writes:

For many years when I walked into a room I instantly counted the women. It told me a lot about what to expect from that room. One day, having lost my best friend over racial politics out of my control, I began to count people of color. That too was for safety, for understanding how my views would be taken. That too told me a lot I needed to know about the room. But it also hinted to me about a whole realm of experience I wasn’t having. […]

Full Story: Quinn Says: Count

The World’s First Bionic Eye

The Register reports:

Australian researchers have claimed a world’s first by successfully implanting a ‘pre-bionic eye’ in a blind patient.

Ms Dianne Ashworth is the patient in question, and suffers retinitis pigmentosa, a condition that has left her with profound vision loss. […]

Ashworth has said, in a canned statement, that when researchers stimulated her implant didn’t know what to expect, but:

“… all of a sudden, I could see a little flash … it was amazing. Every time there was stimulation there was a different shape that appeared in front of my eye.”

The device has not given Ashworth sight but her experiences will allow the BVA team, a consortium of researchers from several Australian institutions, the chance to learn how to work their prostheses to achieve useful results.

Full Story: The Register: ‘Pre-bionic’ eye implanted in blind patient

Meteorologists: The Original Data Scientists?

Rock star data scientist Nate Silver wrote a long article on meteorology for the New York Times:

Why are weather forecasters succeeding when other predictors fail? It’s because long ago they came to accept the imperfections in their knowledge. That helped them understand that even the most sophisticated computers, combing through seemingly limitless data, are painfully ill equipped to predict something as dynamic as weather all by themselves. So as fields like economics began relying more on Big Data, meteorologists recognized that data on its own isn’t enough.

The New York Times: The Weatherman Is Not a Moron

(via Abe)

Future Fatigue And Personal Satellites

I’ve written here before about “future fatigue,” a modern condition from which I seem to suffer. Over at TechCrunch I wrote about why I think the space democratization movement cuts through my future fatigue:

What gives me a real “future buzz” are the things that haven’t been science fiction tropes for decades. Like electric cigarettes. The whole idea weirds me out. And if someone had told me in the 2000 that my friends would be smoking electronic cigarettes in 2012, I’d have told them they were full of it. At first I only saw them advertised on torrent trackers and the like, advertised along with penis enlargement pills and services that would connect me with “adult friends.” I thought electronic cigarettes were just a scam. But now I regularly see people I know smoking them.

Electric cigarettes seem like a true novelty. More so than quantum teleportation or iPhones or the Large Hadron Collider, electronic cigarettes make me feel like I’m living in the future.

The thing is electronic cigarettes are actually pretty low tech. According to sources cited by Wikipedia, the first electronic cigarette was invented back in the 60s but never commercialized. I can imagine them showing up in ads in the back of comic books, along side x-ray specs, the 60s equivalent of advertising on torrent sites. It apparently took until 2000 for someone else to take the idea seriously. Realistically the 60s version would probably have been much larger, and I’m not sure the components would have been cheap enough in the 60s to make it economical and you wouldn’t be able to charge it over USB. But we’re just talking about freebasing drugs here, not quantum teleportation.

TechCrunch: Why The Space Democratization Movement Blows My Mind

Apple Rejected the Drone Tracker App Because it Could

Apple has for the third—and what looks like the final—time rejected an app that would send alerts every time a U.S. military drone made a kill. The first two times Apple said no to Drones+, it said it was “not useful” (we beg to differ), then told the makers there was a problem with the corporate logo, report Danger Room’s Christina Bonnington and Spencer Ackerman. This last time, however, Apple has given its definitive no, citing “objectionable and crude” content — the type of stuff that isn’t in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines. It’s not clear what part of the app is “objectionable or crude” because as Bonnington and Ackerman put it, “Drones+ doesn’t present grisly images of corpses left in the aftermath of the strikes. It just tells users when a strike has occurred, going off a publicly available database of strikes compiled by the U.K.’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism,” they write. (Wired has a video of how the app works.) But it doesn’t really matter what part they find “objectionable.” Apple’s history of iPhone app store censorship has shown that Apple does what it wants because it can — and it’s nice enough to have even told the Drones+ makers its reasons.

Apple has never wanted to key us in on its reasons for doing things because that way it can do what it wanted without explanation.

The Atlantic: Apple Rejected the Drone Tracker App Because it Could

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