Category Archives: Technology

Are We Living Through Climate Change’s Worst-Case Scenario?

By Robinson Meyer – The year 2018 was not an easy one for planet Earth.

In the United States, carbon emissions leapt back up, making their largest year-over-year increase since the end of the Great Recession. This matched the trend across the globe. According to two major studies, greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide shot up in 2018—accelerating like a “speeding freight train,” as one scientist put it.

Many economists expect carbon emissions to drop somewhat throughout the next few decades. But maybe they won’t. If 2018 is any indication, meekly positive energy trends will not handily reduce emissions, even in developed economies like the United States. It raises a bleak question:

Are we currently on the worst-case scenario for climate change?

When climate scientists want to tell a story about the future of the planet, they use a set of four standard scenarios called “representative concentration pathways,” or RCPs. RCPs are ubiquitous in climate science, appearing in virtually any study that uses climate models to investigate the 21st century. They’ve popped up in research about subjects as disparate as southwestern mega-droughts, future immigration flows to Europe, and poor nighttime sleep quality.

Each RCP is assigned a number that describes how the climate will fare in the year 2100. Generally, a higher RCP number describes a scarier fate: It means that humanity emitted more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during the 21st century, further warming the planet and acidifying the ocean. The best-case scenario is called RCP 2.6. The worst case is RCP 8.5.

“God help us if 8.5 turns out to be the right scenario,” Jackson told me. more>

The Future of Machine Learning: Neuromorphic Processors

By Narayan Srinivasa – Machine learning has emerged as the dominant tool for the implementation of complex cognitive tasks resulting in machines that have demonstrated, in some cases, super-human performance. However, these machines require training with a large amount of labeled data and this energy-hungry training process has often been prohibitive in the absence of costly super-computers.

The ways in which animals and humans learn is far more efficient, driven by the evolution of a different processor in the form of a brain that simultaneously optimizes energy of computation with efficient information processing capabilities. The next generation of computers, called neuromorphic processors, will strive to strike this delicate balance between efficiency of computation with the energy needed for this computation.

The foundation for the design of neuromorphic processors is rooted in our understanding of how biological computation is very different from the digital computers of today (Figure).

The brain is composed of noisy analog computing elements including neurons and synapses. Neurons operate as relaxation oscillators. Synapses are implicated in memory formation in the brain and can only resolve between three-to-four bits of information at each synapse. It is well known that the brain operates using a plethora of brain rhythms but without any global clock (i.e., clock free) where the dynamics of these elements operate in an asynchronous fashion. more>

The Truth About the Gig Economy

By Annie Lowrey – The workforce is getting Uberized. The gig economy is taking over the world. Independent contractor jobs are the new normal.

In the post-recession years, this became conventional wisdom, as more and more Americans took jobs—well, “jobs”—with companies like Postmates, Fiverr, TaskRabbit, and Lyft. But the gig economy was then and is now a more marginal phenomenon than it might have seemed.

The gig economy might be new and big and radical and transformative. It might represent a powerful business model for venture investors and tech companies. But Uber and similar companies were not and are not driving tidal changes in the way that Americans make a living.

Wild predictions aside, it was always clear that many gig workers were taking on these kinds of jobs as a temporary stopgap or a way to supplement their income, rather than as a substitute for a full-time position. A comprehensive look at the Uber workforce by Krueger and Jonathan Hall, the company’s internal head of economic research, found that, “Most of Uber’s driver-partners had full- or part-time employment prior to joining Uber, and many continued in those positions after starting to drive with the Uber platform.”

There’s another reason why a false narrative might have hold: Gig work is vastly more prevalent in the big coastal cities where many investors and journalists live, leading to a kind of media myopia about the scale of the phenomenon. And gig work seemed like the future. more>

Updates from ITU

ITU brings new clarity to 5G transport
ITU – 2018 has seen the launch of a major ITU drive to define the requirements of IMT-2020/5G systems as they relate to transport networks, the extremely high-capacity optical networks that form the ‘backbone’ of the ICT ecosystem.

These 5G transport projects have built strong momentum, drawing on the expertise of a wide range of working groups within ITU’s standardization expert group for ‘transport, access and home’, ITU-T Study Group 15.

The baseline for this work was established in February 2018 with the release of an influential ITU Technical Report placing emerging 5G radio requirements in the context of their demands on transport networks.

The second version of this Technical Report was agreed in October 2018. Download the report… more>

Updates from Siemens

Digital Transformation for Retail
Siemens – Retail is in a state of constant fluctuation, changing at a rate so rapid, many retailers cannot maintain the pace.

Technology solutions are becoming pervasive in every part of a retailers operations. It is critical that the solutions drive digitalization of a retailer’s processes and that the software itself can be validated, but also be configured at the pace of change in the industry.

Our focus on providing real-time collaboration via patented, digital solutions are helping retailers prepare for the future by recognizing that delivering innovation requires a broad ecosystem of partners is the key to long-term success. more>

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Updates from Ciena

Fiber densification without complexity the goal of two new Ciena platforms
By Helen Xenos – Providing a first-class experience is the primary driver of densification – allowing network providers to deliver higher capacity connectivity to retain content quality even with the advent of new high-capacity applications. Ease of deployment and operations is also critical, with the quick roll out of network resources giving end-users have faster access to the latest digital services they rely on.

While network providers are starting to see this is the destination they must get to, the question is how?

Today, Ciena comes ready to enable network providers to adapt to these evolving networking requirements with two new products –  the 6500 Reconfigurable Line System (RLS) and the 8180 Coherent Networking Platform.  With these new products, Ciena is tackling fiber densification challenges head on to drive a better customer experience in metro and long-haul Data Center Interconnect (DCI), cable access modernization, and 4G/5G infrastructure builds.

The 6500 Reconfigurable Line System (RLS) is a programmable, open, modular line system that scales to support the highest bandwidth requirements of metro and long-haul datacenter interconnect (DCI) as well as cable access applications. more>

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Updates from Adobe

Minimal Lines, Maximum Impact
By Terri Stone – Monika Kehrer, our design director and a brilliant illustrator herself, is the force that holds everything together in the studio while I (Adam Goldberg) go off and design animals, plants, and weird shit.

We debated putting this stuff out there because of the possible confusion it might cause for potential clients and the creative community. Does it take away from our branding focus? We don’t think so. At the end of the day, creativity and art are part of our branding DNA, so we decided to not to shy away from it.

Although the illustration rarely shows up in our branding work so far, look closely and you can see the geometric, minimalist, mid-century, pattern work and constructivist threads that run through most everything we design. We like to call it “Messy Modernism.” more>

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How Universal Basic Income Solves Widespread Insecurity and Radical Inequality

By Daniel Nettle – Today should be the best time ever to be alive. Thanks to many decades of increasing productive efficiency, the real resources available to enable us to do the things we value—the avocados, the bicycles, the musical instruments, the bricks and glass—are more abundant and of better quality than ever. Thus, at least in the industrialized world, we should be living in the Age of Aquarius, the age where the most urgent problem is self-actualization, not mere subsistence: not ‘How can we live?’, but ‘How shall we live?’.

Why then, does it not feel like the best time ever?

Contrary to the predictions of mid-twentieth-century economists, the age of universal wellbeing has not really materialized. Working hours are as high as they were for our parents, if not higher, and the quality of work is no better for most people. Many people work several jobs they do not enjoy, just to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, and the lights on. In fact, many people are unable to satisfy these basic wants despite being in work.

Big problems require big ideas.

Our current generation of politicians don’t really have ideas big enough to deal with the problems of widespread insecurity and marked inequality. Big ideas come along every few decades. The last one was about forty years ago: neoliberalism, the idea that market competition between private-sector corporations would deliver the social outcomes we all wanted, as long as government got out of the way as far as possible.

Our current politicians propose to deal with symptoms piecemeal—a minimum-wage increase here, a price cap there, rent-control in the other place; tax credits for those people; financial aid to buy a house for those others. At best we are dealing with one symptom at a time. Each piecemeal intervention increases the complexity of the state; divides citizens down into finer and finer ad hoc groups each eligible for different transactions; requires more bureaucratic monitoring; and often has unintended and perverse knock-on effects.

A Universal Basic Income (UBI) is a regular financial payment made to all eligible adults, whether they work or not, regardless of their other means, and without any conditionality whatever. Receiving it is a fundamental entitlement that comes with being a member of society: people can know that it will always be there, now and in the future. more>

Updates from Siemens

Manufacturing Execution System
Siemens – Siemens’ Manufacturing Execution System (MES) ensures that quality and efficiency are built into the manufacturing process and that they are proactively and systematically enforced.

The Manufacturing Execution System connects multiple plants and sites, and integrates easily with equipment, controllers, product lifecycle and enterprise business applications, quality management and laboratory management systems, and many other applications. The result is complete visibility, control and optimization of production and processes across the enterprise.

Benefits of Siemens Manufacturing Execution System:

  • Proactive Control & Quality
  • Granular Enterprise Visibility
  • True Continuous Improvement
  • Brand Risk Reduction
  • Improved Profit Margin

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Updates from Ciena

5 Ways DCI Growth is Driving New Innovations in Transport Networking

By Kent Jordan – Data center interconnect (DCI) is at the heart of new global business models, cloud adoption, and digital content delivery and services. Cloud, ICP, and colocation operators are dominating DCI sales, and DCI is becoming more crucial for other industries as well.

According to the Equinix Global Interconnection Index, global interconnect bandwidth is forecast to grow to over 8,200T by 2021, which is substantially higher than last year’s projection.

Telecommunications, manufacturing, and banking are all expected to be large contributors to total interconnect bandwidth by 2021. Smaller traffic areas, such as wholesale, retail, and healthcare, are also expected to grow at double-digit rates leading to the need for higher capacity services over time.

Purpose-built, compact, modular systems have sprouted up, offering massive scalability to enable global deployments while reducing operational expenses related to data center space, power, and cooling. These systems offer modularity and pay-as-you-grow scalability for lower traffic scenarios, so enterprises can cost-effectively scale connectivity for cloud services and applications. more>

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