Tag Archives: Social networks

To get a grip on altruism, see humans as molecules

By Ski Krieger – ‘What is life?’

In 1943, Erwin Schrödinger posed this question in a series of lectures at Trinity College, Dublin.

Seventy-five years later, the biophysics revolution is ongoing. Schrödinger’s call to action inspired his colleagues to look at the building blocks of life at all scales, from the diminutive DNA molecule to schooling fish and the construction of anthills.

My research group at Harvard University focuses on altruism, or why creatures sacrifice themselves for the common good.

But rather than relying on psychology or moral philosophy, we approach this problem using thermodynamics – how the laws governing heat and the interaction of microscopic particles might translate into macroscopic behavior. Can we explain altruism by casting humans as atoms and molecules, and societies or populations as solids, liquids or gases?

By studying each of these phases as physicists, we come away approaching a recipe for altruism – rules for certain structures that might foster cooperation.

What we’ve observed so far is that strong local connections enhance altruism everywhere. more>

Declining Majority of Online Adults Say the Internet Has Been Good for Society

By Aaron Smith and Kenneth Olmstead – Americans tend to view the impact of the internet and other digital technologies on their own lives in largely positive ways, Pew Research Center surveys have shown over the years. A survey of U.S. adults conducted in January 2018 finds continuing evidence of this trend, with the vast majority of internet users (88%) saying the internet has, on balance, been a mostly good thing for them personally.

But even as they view the internet’s personal impact in a positive light, Americans have grown somewhat more ambivalent about the impact of digital connectivity on society as a whole. A sizable majority of online adults (70%) continue to believe the internet has been a good thing for society. Yet the share of online adults saying this has declined by a modest but still significant 6 percentage points since early 2014, when the Center first asked the question. more>

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We Don’t Have Elections

BOOK REVIEW

Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection, Autor: Jacob Silverman.

How tech companies merge with the nation-state
By Jacob Silverman – It should shock no one if Facebook emerges from its latest privacy imbroglio with a meager fine and a promise to do better—even as our elected leaders, whose lack of knowledge of Facebook’s workings reflected their advanced age, tut-tutted that this time Facebook has to do better.

The canon of American regulatory practices tends toward the ceremonial, with extreme deference shown toward corporations that may one day hire former regulators. Senator Lindsey Graham even invited Zuckerberg to submit possible regulations—an example of regulatory capture so blatant that “corruption” doesn’t even seem like the proper word.

Playing along, Zuckerberg expressed an openness to regulation, though he asked for a light touch, which, barring another data spillage, he should expect.

Beyond a few mild critiques, Congress’s overriding opinion of Zuck seems to be that he was a classic American success story, and perhaps—in his cunning acquisition of ungodly riches on the backs of others’ labor—he is.

To better understand Silicon Valley’s politics, we might return to the nation-state metaphor and consider technology companies as recently ascendant great powers. Endowed with impressive resources, making themselves known in assorted global capitals, their CEOs are greeted in the manner of heads of state. Their vast offshore cash reserves resemble sovereign wealth funds, whose investments have the power to shape politics. more>

Huge power outage in Amsterdam – We are prepared!


datacenter.com – Sunday, April 29th, Dutch electricity network administrator Tennet reported Amsterdam South East was hit by a power outage, with the effect that 18,000 connections no longer had power.

The outage occurred 00:42 at a Tennet substation when a high-voltage connection in Amsterdam Bijmer-South failed. Trains, trams, and planes ground to a temporary halt in and around Amsterdam. Amsterdam Schiphol Airport was closed due to the power outage.

Our main task as Datacenter.com is to keep our data centers and your critical IT infrastructure on-line at all times.. Huge power outages like these confirms that we are able to keep that promise. more>

Updates from Ciena

Debunking 5 common myths about 5G
By Brian Lavallée – When 5G begins to roll out, it will likely start in a select group of countries like the United States, South Korea, China, Japan, and India. However, we won’t be saying goodbye to 4G anytime soon. The truth is, 5G was never intended to replace 4G, unlike 4G that was expected to replace 3G (but never really did). When 5G rolls out, 4G and its multiple variants will still play a key role in the network — particularly for less bandwidth-heavy applications and use cases.

This means operators need to plan for both 4G today and 5G tomorrow, as both will coexist and share same network resources for the foreseeable future.

There’s no doubt: higher download speeds are a big part of 5G and is what most people are most excited about but equally important is that 5G will offer up to 10 times lower latency than 4G. It is this combination of faster download speeds and reduced latency that opens up new use cases, such as augmented reality and virtual reality.

Since the 5G standards are not complete, there is no such thing as a “5G product” today. To get around this, some talk about having 4.5G (better than 4G, but not quite 5G) products that meet the current draft standards being proposed today. However, it is important to note; you can’t credibly make this claim because if you build something based on where the standards are now, there is still a chance the product won’t be able to adapt, such as via software upgrades, when standards are approved later. more>

Updates from Ciena

Following the 3-pillar approach to effective security strategy
By Paulina Gomez – In response to the rapidly evolving cybersecurity threat landscape, regulations around the world are upping the pressure on organizations to protect their sensitive customer and operational data. The maximum fine for a data breach in the upcoming European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, could be up to 4% of global revenues; enough to put even large organizations out of business.

How can an organization minimize its security risks?

It’s about more than just encryption and firewalls. A comprehensive, multi-layer security strategy is vital to an effective defense. By following these three key pillars to achieve the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data in your network, you will be protecting your data, your customers, and your business.

The central driving vision for any data security approach is to ensure customer data remains confidential at all times. This requires an end-to-end security solution protecting network traffic from the end point to the data center. more>

Rethinking the Social Network

By Susan Milligan – Is Facebook losing its base? The social media giant is already facing a credibility crisis.

Facebook began in the early 2000s at Harvard, where then-student Mark Zuckerberg started “Facemash” (often described as a Harvard “hot-or-not” site) and turned it into a multibillion-dollar site where “friends” could share news and photos, as well as personal profile information.

The site came to play an important role in campaigns and elections. Barack Obama’s campaign, for example, found that getting endorsed and mentioned in Facebook messages was often more effective than paying for TV campaign ads, since voters were more likely to trust information from someone they knew than from a professionally produced campaign commercial.

Other institutions fared poorly with young people as well, though trust was higher as the entities became more local. Just 22 percent trust the president to do the right thing all or most of the time, with the federal government, at 21 percent, and Congress, at 18 percent, coming in even lower. However, 34 percent say they have faith in their state governments all or most of the time, and 38 percent say the same about their local governments. more>

Escape the echo chamber

By C Thi Nguyen – Something has gone wrong with the flow of information. It’s not just that different people are drawing subtly different conclusions from the same evidence. It seems like different intellectual communities no longer share basic foundational beliefs. Maybe nobody cares about the truth anymore, as some have started to worry.

Maybe political allegiance has replaced basic reasoning skills. Maybe we’ve all become trapped in echo chambers of our own making – wrapping ourselves in an intellectually impenetrable layer of likeminded friends and web pages and social media feeds.

But there are two very different phenomena at play here, each of which subvert the flow of information in very distinct ways. Let’s call them echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Both are social structures that systematically exclude sources of information. Both exaggerate their members’ confidence in their beliefs. But they work in entirely different ways, and they require very different modes of intervention.

An epistemic bubble is when you don’t hear people from the other side.

An echo chamber is what happens when you don’t trust people from the other side.

Luckily, though, epistemic bubbles are easily shattered. We can pop an epistemic bubble simply by exposing its members to the information and arguments that they’ve missed. But echo chambers are a far more pernicious and robust phenomenon. more>

Tech Vs. Democracy

By Guy Verhofstadt – In an age when most people get their news from social media, mafia states have had little trouble censoring social-media content that their leaders deem harmful to their interests. But for liberal democracies, regulating social media is not so straightforward, because it requires governments to strike a balance between competing principles.

After all, social-media platforms not only play a crucial role as conduits for the free flow of information; they have also faced strong criticism for failing to police illegal or abusive content, particularly hate speech and extremist propaganda.

These failings have prompted action from many European governments and the European Union itself. The EU has now issued guidelines for Internet companies, and has threatened to follow up with formal legislation if companies do not comply. As Robert Hannigan, the former director of the British intelligence agency GCHQ, recently observed, the window for tech companies to reform themselves voluntarily is quickly closing.

In fact, Germany has already enacted a law that will impose severe fines on platforms that do not remove illegal user content in a timely fashion. more>

Stop Saying ‘Smart Cities’

Digital stardust won’t magically make future cities more affordable or resilient.
By Bruce Sterling – The term “smart city” is interesting yet not important, because nobody defines it. “Smart” is a snazzy political label used by a modern alliance of leftist urbanites and tech industrialists.

Smart-city devotees all over this world will agree that London is particularly smart. Why? London is a huge, ungainly beast whose cartwheeling urban life is in cranky, irrational disarray. London is a god-awful urban mess, but London does have some of the best international smart-city conferences.

The digital techniques that smart-city fans adore are flimsy and flashy—and some are even actively pernicious—but they absolutely will be used in cities. They already have an urban heritage. When you bury fiber-optic under the curbs around the town, then you get internet. When you have towers and smartphones, then you get portable ubiquity. When you break up a smartphone into its separate sensors, switches, and little radios, then you get the internet of things.

However, the cities of the future won’t be “smart,” or well-engineered, cleverly designed, just, clean, fair, green, sustainable, safe, healthy, affordable, or resilient. They won’t have any particularly higher ethical values of liberty, equality, or fraternity, either. The future smart city will be the internet, the mobile cloud, and a lot of weird paste-on gadgetry, deployed by City Hall, mostly for the sake of making towns more attractive to capital.

“Smart cities” merely want to be perceived as smart, when what they actually need is quite different. more>