October 31, 2015

China's Social Credit system, computerized Orwell with a government reputation and trust score

The Chinese government is building an omnipotent "social credit" system that is meant to rate each citizen's trustworthiness.

By 2020, everyone in China will be enrolled in a vast national database that compiles fiscal and government information, including minor traffic violations, and distils it into a single number ranking each citizen.

That system isn't in place yet. For now, the government is watching how eight Chinese companies issue their own "social credit" scores under state-approved pilot projects.

One of the most high-profile projects is by Sesame Credit, the financial wing of Alibaba. With 400 million users, Alibaba is the world's biggest online shopping platform. It's using its unique database of consumer information to compile individual "social credit" scores.

More and more of Baihe's 90 million clients are displaying their credit scores in their dating profiles, doing away with the idea that a credit score is a private matter.
However, Sesame Credit will not divulge exactly how it calculates its credit scores, explaining that it is a "complex algorithm".

A lengthy planning document from China's elite State Council explains that social credit will "forge a public opinion environment that trust-keeping is glorious", warning that the "new system will reward those who report acts of breach of trust".

Here is a translation of the planning outline for China's social credit system 2014-2020.

A reputation system computes and publishes reputation scores for a set of objects within a community or domain, based on a collection of opinions that other entities hold about the objects. The opinions are typically passed as ratings to a central place where all perceptions, opinions and ratings can be accumulated. A reputation center uses a specific reputation algorithm to dynamically compute the reputation scores based on the received ratings. Reputation is a sign of trustworthiness manifested as testimony by other people.

Fortunately any government reputation system will be far less than the cultural revolution or the One child policy

The Cultural Revolution was launched in May 1966, after Mao alleged that bourgeois elements had infiltrated the government and society at large, aiming to restore capitalism. He insisted that these "revisionists" be removed through violent class struggle. China's youth responded to Mao's appeal by forming Red Guard groups around the country. The movement spread into the military, urban workers, and the Communist Party leadership itself. It resulted in widespread factional struggles in all walks of life.

Millions of people were persecuted in the violent struggles that ensued across the country, and suffered a wide range of abuses including public humiliation, arbitrary imprisonment, torture, sustained harassment, and seizure of property.

The 'one-child' policy has led to what Amartya Sen first called 'Missing Women', or the 100 million girls 'missing' from the populations of China (and other developing countries) as a result of female infanticide, abandonment, and neglect"

Notable examples of practical reputation applications

Search: web (see PageRank)
eCommerce: eBay, Epinions, Bizrate, Trustpilot
Social news: Reddit, Digg, Imgur
Programming communities: Advogato, freelance marketplaces, Stack Overflow
Wikis: Increase contribution quantity and quality (Dencheva, Prause and Prinz 2011)
Internet Security: TrustedSource
Question-and-Answer sites: Quora, Yahoo! Answers, Gutefrage.net
Email: anti-spam techniques, reputation lookup (RapLeaf)
Personal Reputation: CouchSurfing (for travelers),
Non Governmental organizations (NGOs): GreatNonProfits.org, GlobalGiving
Professional reputation of translators and translation outsourcers: BlueBoard at ProZ.com
All purpose reputation system: Yelp, Inc.
Academia: general bibliometic measures, e.g. the h-index of a researcher.

Russia has submarines that are competitive with the US Seawolf subs

Rear Adm. Dave Johnson, Naval Sea Systems Command’s (NAVSEA) program executive officer (PEO) submarines has a model of Russian nuclear guided missile submarine (Severodvinsk) placed outside his office in a common area so that he could look at it every day on his way to his office.

“We’ll be facing tough potential opponents. One only has to look at the Severodvinsk, Russia’s version of a [nuclear guided missile submarine] (SSGN). I am so impressed with this ship that I had Carderock build a model from unclassified data.” Johnson said.

Severodvinsk leverages many of the automation technologies the Soviet Union invested in during the 1970s and 1980s with the Project 705 Lira-class boats—better known by their NATO-code name as the Alfa-class. The Alfa-class submarines—which were built with a titanium hull and liquid-metal cooled reactor—were the fastest and deepest diving operational submarines ever built—save for the lone Soviet Project 661 Anchar-class (NATO: Papa-class) boat. As such, the 13,800-ton, 390-foot long, submarine is highly automated vessel with a crew of only 32 officers and 58 enlisted submariners.

The vessel might have a maximum speed of between 35 and 40 knots. It is far quieter than previous Russian submarines and has a maximum “silent” speed of about 20 knots. Like most new nuclear submarine designs, Severodvinsk reactor is designed to last for the life of the boat.

According to the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), while the new Russian submarine is quieter than the Improved Los Angeles-class boats, the new vessel is not quite as silent as the Seawolf or Virginia-class. However, the Russians were always only lagging slightly behind the U.S. in quieting technology according to Navy sources.

Conducting ink can boost solar thermal by 70% for a few dollars

Researchers at the Technological Institute of the Lagoon (ITL), Mexico, have created a nanoparticle-rich, conducting ink that they have used to coat pipes of solar water heaters to increase their efficiency by up to 70 percent. The new coating was recently proven on the solar heating of a Mexican city sports complex swimming pool, where 2 million cubic meters (70.6 million cubic feet) of water were heated from 26 °C to 37 °C (79 °F to 98°F).

Classed as an ink because of its solvent-driven rapid drying time, the material is really a fast-setting paint that is built up in several layers. The internal layer is one of magnetic titanium nanoparticles that trap the heat, the layer above that consists of tungsten nano salt adhered with polyvinyl alcohol, and the whole ensemble finishes with a layer of copper.

"A pipe exposed to the sun reaches a temperature of 40 °C (104 °F), if we add the superconducting ink the temperature increases 70 percent and reaches 68 °C (154 °F)," says Sandra Casillas Bolaños, master at ITL, and head of the project.

To aid the heating, the outer layer of copper is also burnished to blacken it, so that it heats more rapidly and efficiently in order to trap and hold heat inside the inner particles. "Thus the center is heated more intensely: first the titanium, then tungsten and finally the copper," says Bolaños.

Currently being patented, the conducting ink is slated for market at a price of around 600 pesos (about $US40) a liter. According to Bolaños, however, painting all of the solar water piping in a standard house should cost only around 150 pesos ($10) as the coating goes a long way using very little.

Moore's law is stalling so cloud chips are being customized for AI problems and memory intensive data crunching

An important challenge is brewing for traditional chip makers: the cloud, or Internet-based computing. Driven by the need to analyze massive amounts of data, the Goliaths of the Internet— Alphabet (aka Google), Facebook, Amazon.com, and Microsoft—are altering the very nature of computing. In the process, they are pressing at the boundaries of chip technology and forcing a major change.

* faster and smarter memory chips are needed
* 100 to 1000 times performance gains from custom hardware chips to solve particular algorithms
* current approaches to advanced AI are memory intensive

One major beneficiary could be Micron Technology. Its memory chips could play a key role in cloud chips, which will rely less on processing power than on vast amounts of memory

Once the domain of videogames and scientific computing, GPUs excel at crunching clusters of data simultaneously. Alphabet and the rest are buying them like they’re going out of style. As a result, shares of the primary supplier of GPUs, Nvidia, are up 50% in the past 12 months, although shares of another supplier, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), have fallen sharply due to company-specific problems. If demand plays out as we foresee, it could lift the fortunes of both. They might even become takeout targets of companies such as Qualcomm and Broadcom, or the cloud giants.

Artificial intelligence is cracking language translation and advanced image recognition problems by cranking through millions of samples and determining patterns.

A Chip Remembers. One of many cutting-edge chips, Micron’s prototype “Automata” is striking for its rigid symmetry. Unlike most computer chips, its circuitry is made up of vast fields of memory, with lots of wires to connect them, and just a little bit of logic circuitry squeezed in between.

JAK inhibitor drugs could restore hair growth after loss from male pattern baldness

In experiments with mouse and human hair follicles, Angela M. Christiano, PhD, and colleagues found that drugs that inhibit the Janus kinase (JAK) family of enzymes promote rapid and robust hair growth when applied to the skin.

Inhibiting a family of enzymes inside hair follicles that are suspended in a resting state restores hair growth, a new study from researchers at Columbia University Medical Center has found.

The study raises the possibility that JAK inhibitors could be used to restore hair growth in forms of hair loss induced by male pattern baldness, and other types of hair loss that occur when hair follicles are trapped in a resting state. Two JAK inhibitors have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. One is approved for treatment of blood diseases (ruxolitinib) and the other for rheumatoid arthritis (tofacitinib). Both are being tested in clinical trials for the treatment of plaque psoriasis and alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.

“What we’ve found is promising, though we haven’t yet shown it’s a cure for pattern baldness,” said Dr. Christiano. “More work needs to be done to test if JAK inhibitors can induce hair growth in humans using formulations specially made for the scalp.”

Within 3 weeks, mice that received topical ruxolitinib or tofacitinib had regrown nearly all their hair (center and right photos; drug was applied only to the right side of the mouse). Little to no hair growth occurred in control mice during the same timeframe (left photo).
Image credit: From S. Harel et al., Sci. Adv. 1, e1500973 (2015). Distributed under a Creative
Commons Attribution Non Commercial License 4.0 (CC BY-NC). 10.1126/sciadv.1500973

Science Advances - Pharmacologic inhibition of JAK-STAT signaling promotes hair growth

F35 helmet costs $400,000 and entire fighter jets for less than the price 50 F35 helmets

The pilots flying the F35 aircraft will be wearing the most advanced and most expensive helmet ever.

The helmet will give pilots quicker access to the information they need to see and has special cameras to "see" through the bottom of the plane. But it will cost an estimated $400,000 per helmet — more than four times as much as the Air Force paid for head wear for other aircraft such as the F-16.

Helmets for all the F-35s scheduled to be purchased will cost at least $1 billion.

The helmet makes use of six cameras embedded in the skin of the plane to give pilots a 360-degree view of the surrounding airspace, including enabling them to "look through" the floor of the plane. Plus it has advanced night-vision capabilities built in; and the heads-up-display projects directly onto the visor, putting information like altitude, speed and targets right in front of the pilots' eyes.

It is also larger and heavier than helmets for other aircraft. And that has spawned its own set of problems. One pilot has complained that it bangs into the canopy, and recent tests have shown that it can make ejecting more dangerous for lighter pilots. As a result, the F-35 program office has ordered a new lighter helmet which will be available in 12 to 18 months.

The Pentagon is expected to buy roughly 2,400 F-35s, with 680 going to the Navy and Marine Corps and the rest going to the Air Force.

An A10 Thunderbolt II would cost about $18.8 million. This is the cost of about 47 F35 helmets.

World's richest and distribution by country

The global population of ultra-high-networth individuals grew by almost 5,200 in 2014, according to data prepared exclusively for The Wealth Report by the analyst firm WealthInsight.

This latest increase means 65,335 people have joined the ranks of the ultra-wealthy (Over $30 million in net worth) over the past decade –a rise of 61%. In total, there are now 172,850 individuals in this cohort who hold wealth totalling $20.8 trillion, an increase of $700bn during 2014.

Nearly 1,180 people became centa-millionaires in 2014, taking the world’s total population
of those worth over $100 million to 38,280.

At the top of the wealth tree 53 individuals became billionaires last year, pushing global membership of this exclusive club to 1,844 – an 82% rise from the number recorded in 2004.

Asia overtook North America as the region with the second-largest UHNWI growth. Some 1,419 people moved past the $30m+ mark in Asia in 2014, after an increase of fewer than 1,000 in 2013.

Europe held onto the top spot with the most new entrants into the ultra-wealthy bracket over 2014. The ultra-wealthy in Asia now also hold more in total wealth, with net assets of $5.9tn, than those in North America, with $5.5 trillion.

There were 2,180,100 HNWIs in Japan in 2014, holding USD 9.2 trillion in wealth. Growth in HNWI numbers and wealth is forecast to improve in the offing, with the country’s HNWI population set to grow by just over 8% and HNWI wealth expected to grow by 22.8% to reach USD 11.8 trillion by 2019-end.

Asia Wealth Forecast to 2020

Swiss firm Julius Baer has a 2015-2020 Asian Wealth Report

Julius Baer forecasts that high net worth individuals will still grow wealth at about 9-12% per year in China, India, Taiwan, Malaysia Philippines and South Korea. HNWI will not do as well in Singapore, Thailand and Hong Kong.

October 30, 2015

Geopolitics of Long-Range Hypersonic High-Precision Weapons

Unlike nuclear weapons, which are “tools of extreme impact,” Long-Range Hypersonic High-Precision Weapons (or Advanced Hypersonic Weapons – AHW in US terminology) are ready for use in any scenario, including as part of counter-terror operations. AHW do not cause unnecessary civilian casualties and do not inflict significant material damage to civil transportation systems, power plants, or other infrastructure beyond the small affected area.

Russia has been developing its own promising prototypes of AHW in the numbers deemed necessary to bolster its own security, in response to both America’s functional rollout of Prompt Global Strike, an ambitious program to deploy a global, layered missile-defense system, as well as the Pentagon’s modernization of its strategic and tactical nuclear weapons.

Russia, China, USA, India and other countries are all working towards hypersonic weapons

Oriental Review had the original article by Vladimir Kozin is Head of Advisers’ Group at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies

The following six key preconditions would be needed for any Advanced Hypersonic Weapon treaty:

1) Any future AHW agreement must be grounded in the principle of equality and equivalent security for all signatory states and must ensure the creation of a system of multilateral, strategic-deterrence treaties.

Integrated escape capsules needed for hypersonic passenger planes

Scientists are working on a shape-shifting escape capsule for use with high-speed hypersonic planes which could potentially fly between Europe and Australia in under two hours in future.

Faster than supersonic planes such as Concorde, hypersonic aircraft fly in the atmosphere at speeds over Mach 5.5 and could revolutionize the world of commercial airline travel.

The escape pod is being developed as part of a two-year program called Hypersonic Morphing for a Cabin Escape System (Hypmoces) that will be completed in November.

The project is led by Spain’s Deimos Space, Italy’s Aviospace, and research agencies DLR of Germany and Onera in France.
“[A hypersonic aircraft] will probably require a passenger escape system as the technology for high-energy flight will not be as reliable as for subsonic, mainly the propulsion,” says Davide Bonetti, project coordinator at Deimos told Aviation Week.

New welding technique can weld “un-weldable” metals using 80% less energy and 50% stronger welds

Engineers at The Ohio State University have developed a new welding technique that consumes 80 percent less energy than a common welding technique, yet creates bonds that are 50 percent stronger.

The new technique could have a huge impact on the auto industry, which is poised to offer new cars which combine traditional heavy steel parts with lighter, alternative metals to reduce vehicle weight.

Despite recent advances in materials design, alternative metals still pose a challenge to manufacturers in practice. Many are considered un-weldable by traditional means, in part because high heat and re-solidification weaken them, said Glenn Daehn, professor of materials science and engineering at Ohio State, who helped develop the new technique.

Microscope view of copper (top) welded to titanium (bottom) using a new technique developed at The Ohio State University. Image by Glenn Daehn, courtesy of The Ohio State University.

Design of a 3D silicon chip quantum computer architecture based on single atom quantum bits scalable to millions of qubits

Researchers at UNSW and the University of Melbourne have designed a 3D silicon chip architecture based on single atom quantum bits, providing a blueprint to build a large-scale quantum computer.

Scientists and engineers from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T), headquartered at UNSW, are leading the world in the race to develop a scalable quantum computer in silicon – a material well-understood and favoured by the trillion-dollar computing and microelectronics industry.

Teams led by UNSW researchers have already demonstrated a unique fabrication strategy for realising atomic-scale devices and have developed the world’s most efficient quantum bits in silicon using either the electron or nuclear spins of single phosphorus atoms. Quantum bits – or qubits – are the fundamental data components of quantum computers.

One of the final hurdles to scaling up to an operational quantum computer is the architecture. Here it is necessary to figure out how to precisely control multiple qubits in parallel, across an array of many thousands of qubits, and constantly correct for ‘quantum’ errors in calculations.

Now, the CQC2T collaboration, involving theoretical and experimental researchers from the University of Melbourne and UNSW, has designed such a device. In a study published today in Science Advances, the CQC2T team describes a new silicon architecture, which uses atomic-scale qubits aligned to control lines – which are essentially very narrow wires – inside a 3D design.

“We have demonstrated we can build devices in silicon at the atomic-scale and have been working towards a full-scale architecture where we can perform error correction protocols – providing a practical system that can be scaled up to larger numbers of qubits,” says UNSW Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons, study co-author and Director of the CQC2T.

“The great thing about this work, and architecture, is that it gives us an endpoint. We now know exactly what we need to do in the international race to get there.”

The UNSW members of the team: L-R: Dr Matthew House, Sam Hile (seated), Scientia Professor Sven Rogge and Scientia Professor Michelle Simmons of the CQC2T laboratories at UNSW. Image: UNSW

Graphene chip 200 times more sensitive than silicon and will be lower cost

Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a new material that can potentially replace the silicon widely used in sensor chips in appliances, paving the way for smaller and cheaper electronic products. A new graphene-based sensor chip is more than 200 times more sensitive than current chips available in the market that use silicon or indium antimonide.

Supported by boron nitride substrates, the graphene-based sensor chip forms an interface whereby electrons can move very fast in the material.

“These electrons can thus respond to magnetic fields with greater sensitivity,” said the professor, who is from NUS’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The material is in the process of getting patented.

In addition, the graphene material is also flexible “like paper” — which makes it suitable to be incorporated into wearable technology — and demonstrates stable performance across temperature changes. Current silicon-based sensor chips will break when bent, and change in properties between room temperature and 127°C — the maximum temperature at which most electronic products operate — affecting their reliability.

With a graphene-based chip, the NUS researchers found a gain in sensitivity of more than eight-fold at 127°C. This makes it a suitable chip for environments with a higher temperature.

Said Prof Yang, “This can axe the need for the current temperature correction mechanism in car sensors, for example. There are about 30 to 40 magnetic sensors ... in a car alone.”

Researchers from NUS developed a new hybrid magnetic sensor that has been shown to be more than 200 times more sensitive than commercially available sensors. (Photo: NUS)

Nature Communications - Extremely large magnetoresistance in few-layer graphene/boron–nitride heterostructures

Pervaporation eliminates the need for electricity in desalination to cut energy usage in half

Scientists at Alexandria University in Egypt are developing an innovative water-purifying technique that uses half the energy as previous methods. They have created a membrane that can both clean and desalinate water, that could offer Egypt and other developing countries an inexpensive new water source. The method uses materials from North Africa and could make water desalination a more affordable process, according Digital Trends. Researchers ultimately plan to mass-produce the membrane and print sheets for individual use.

The breakthrough by Alexandria researchers lies in the new kind of membrane with just five "ingredients" that could be made in other labs without great difficulty. It binds with the salt in the water – it even works with the very salty water found in the Red Sea.

"Using pervaporation eliminates the need for electricity that is used in classic desalination processes, thus cutting costs significantly," Ahmed El-Shafei, an agricultural and biosystems engineering professor at Alexandria University, told Digital Trends.

Water Science and Technology - Desalination of simulated seawater by purge-air pervaporation using an innovative fabricated membrane

Abstract - Desalination of simulated seawater by purge-air pervaporation using an innovative fabricated membrane

An innovative polymeric membrane has been invented, which presents a breakthrough in the field of desalination membranes. It can desalinate simulated seawater of exceptionally high concentration to produce a high flux of potable water with over 99.7% salt rejection (%SR) in a once-through purge-air pervaporation (PV) process. A set-up was constructed for conducting the desalination experiments and the effect of initial salt solution concentration (Ci) and pervaporation temperature (Tpv) on the water flux (J), %SR, separation factor, and pervaporation separation index were determined. The membrane was prepared by the phase-inversion technique, of a specially formulated casting solution consisting of five ingredients, after which the membrane was subjected to a post-treatment by which certain properties were conferred. The results confirmed that the salinity of the pervaporate was independent of Ci (all %SR above 99.7). The best result was at Tpv = 70 °C, where J varied from 5.97 to 3.45 l/m2 h for Ci = 40–140 g NaCl/l, respectively. The membrane morphology was confirmed to be asymmetric. The contact angle was immeasurable, indicating the membrane to be super-hydrophilic. Activation energies computed using Arrhenius law were, under all conditions investigated, less than 20 kJ/mol K.

October 29, 2015

Yamaha Motobot can ride unmodified motorcycle at 120 mph

Yamaha showed off a robotic biker called Motobot at the Tokyo Motor Show 2015.

Motobot can ride an unmodified motorcycle on a racetrack at more than 200 km/h (120mph). Those catching the robot debut saw it on Yamaha's YZF-R1M machine.

Yamaha's goal is to beat MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi.

China plans to triple high speed rail network to over 31000 miles and boost speed from 240 mph to 310 mph by 2020

China's high-speed railway network is expected to span 18,000 kilometers (12,000 miles) by the end of this year. China will add another 2,000 kilometers of high-speed railroad by the end of this year. This is part of the government's plan to put more than 8,000 kilometers of extra lines in both regular and fast-speed railway networks into operation. By the end of this year, all cities in China with a population of more than half a million will be connected by high- speed railways.

China Railway Corporation said in September that the China's high speed rail network “will soon stretch considerably further,” to a length of 50,000 kilometers (31000 miles) by 2020.

China plans to build more high-speed railroads in the nation's western region during the 13th (and next) Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), as well as export more high-end railway equipment products to overseas markets.

China will continue to deploy more resources and manpower to further develop "smart trains", which apply intelligent technology that will allow trains 'speed control, condition determination and fault detection operations to be performed digitally.

China has also set a target for carrying out research and making innovations in the permanent magnetic motor technology for the high-speed train power systems, as most of the existing units run on alternating current.

"Permanent magnetic motors will consume less energy and improve trains' reliability, which is a trend in the research on high-speed trains," said Wang.

China had announced that's it's developed new permanent magnet technology that will help its bullet trains reach an ultra-fast 500 km/h (310 mph).

A permanent magnet synchronous traction system is basically a motor that uses permanent magnets rather than a magnetic field created by windings of the rotor to propel the train forward. That means the new 690-kilowatt traction system has significantly fewer parts and is lighter and more efficient, allowing China's already-speedy bullet trains to go 50 percent faster.

* new synchronous traction will allow high speed rail to go 50% faster
* new system boasts more power
* simpler configuration
* lower electrical consumption
* more reliable and efficient

Tuberculosis deaths halved from 1990 but still 1.5 million per year - UN targest 2030 to end TB

The fight against tuberculosis (TB) is paying off, with this year’s death rate nearly half of what it was in 1990, but 1.5 million still people died from the disease last year, with more than half occurring in China, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Pakistan.

“Most of these deaths could have been prevented,” according to WHO’s Global Tuberculosis Report 2015, which was released today in Washington, D.C.

The report said to reduce TB’s overall burden, detection and treatment gaps need to be closed, funding shortfalls filled and new diagnostics, drugs and vaccines developed.

A child receiving Tuberculosis medicine in South Sudan under a programme supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and UNDP. Photo: UNDP South Sudan/Brian Sokol

Although infection rates are down, Tuberculos (TB) ranks alongside HIV as the leading cause of death from infectious disease

This year marks the deadline for the Millennium Development Goal of cutting the number of TB cases globally, set in 2000 by the UN. The World Health Organization’s annual report on the disease, out this week, says the goal has been reached. Even so, TB remains a major threat, killing 1.5 million people in 2014. The death toll for HIV was 1.2 million.

Last month, the UN set new global development targets – which include ending the global TB epidemic by 2030. This will be a massive challenge, requiring five times the current rate of decline in TB cases.

Google Loon will provide internet service to Indonesia in 2016

Following 17 million km of test flights across jungles, mountains and plains, Project Loon has signed agreements with three mobile network operators - Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata - to begin testing balloon-powered Internet over Indonesia in 2016.

Currently, only about one in three of Indonesia’s 250 million residents is connected to the Internet. Stringing fiber networks or installing and maintaining mobile phone towers across the more than 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia is a significant challenge. Through balloon-to-balloon communication, Project Loon has the capability to transmit signal from areas that are connected to an Internet groundstation and bounce that signal across a constellation of balloons and back down to even the most remote islands. In flight testing, the Loon team has already been able to wirelessly transfer data between individual balloons floating over 100 km apart in the stratosphere, enabling local network operators to extend their Internet service into areas that are too difficult to reach with current technology.

The Indonesian tests will form part of the foundation for our longer term goal of providing a continuous ring of connectivity in partnership with mobile network operators around the globe and, hopefully, bringing the power of the Internet to millions of individuals, wherever they are, for the very first time.

Google X's Project Loon says it's teaming up with Indonesia’s three largest wireless carriers in 2016 to test its high-altitude, wind-propelled balloons with the goal of blanketing Internet coverage across large swaths of the nation.

Project Loon is targeting the world’s fourth most populous country because two-thirds of its citizens don't have Internet access. Mike Cassidy, vice president of Project Loon, says Google parent company Alphabet wants to bring the Internet to 100 million people in Indonesia currently not connected to it.

Project Loon's collaboration with mobile operators Indosat, Telkomsel and XL Axiata would means speeds would be fast enough to surf websites, stream videos or make purchases, Cassidy said.

Cassidy and Google co-founder Sergey Brin announced the news at a press conference Wednesday afternoon at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., where Loon inflated one of the helium balloon

Project Loon says it plans to share revenue with telecommunications providers. Its pitch: Telecoms keep subscribers while Loon provides a cost-effective alternative to building new cell towers to reach remote areas. Loon has run tests with Vodafone in New Zealand, Telstra in Australia, and Telefonica in Latin America. It says it could eventually turn into a business that could make tens of billions of dollars in revenue a year for Google parent company Alphabet.

The Indonesian experiment is just the latest development as American Internet giants parachute into the developing world. In June, Google signed a memorandum of understanding with Sri Lanka's government, calling it an important step but cautioning it was still early in the process.

Genetically engineered virus called talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) has been approved by the FDA to treat advanced melanoma

Nature reports that the First cancer-fighting virus has been approved.

An engineered herpesvirus that provokes an immune response against cancer has become the first treatment of its kind to be approved for use in the United States, paving the way for a long-awaited class of therapies. On 27 October, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a genetically engineered virus called talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) to treat advanced melanoma. Four days earlier, advisers to the European Medicines Agency had endorsed the drug.

With dozens of ongoing clinical trials of similar ‘oncolytic’ viruses, researchers hope that the approval will generate the enthusiasm and cash needed to spur further development of the approach. “The era of the oncolytic virus is probably here,” says Stephen Russell, a cancer researcher and haematologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “I expect to see a great deal happening over the next few years.”

Many viruses preferentially infect cancer cells. Malignancy can suppress normal antiviral responses, and sometimes the mutations that drive tumour growth also make cells more susceptible to infection. Viral infection can thus ravage a tumour while leaving abutting healthy cells untouched, says Brad Thompson, president of the pharmaceutical-development firm Oncolytics Biotech in Calgary, Canada.

Killer T cells (orange) are recruited to attack malignant cells (mauve) in the viral-based cancer therapy T-VEC.

China officially will change to two child policy

China leadership said it would abandon its controversial “one-child policy” on Thursday and allow all couples to have two children, effectively ending the biggest population control experiment in history amid growing pressures from a rapidly aging population. China’s unpopular one-child rule was introduced in 1980, and brutally enforced through huge fines, forced sterilizations and abortions, experts say. It empowered and enriched a huge swath of officials, with bribes often paid to skirt the rules.

Nextbigfuture has reported and predicted that China would go to a two child policy before the end of 2015

China decided to further relax to a “two-child policy,” the number of additional births might reach 5 million annually, with the fertility rate perhaps rising to replacement level. However, previously allowing people with parents who only had one child to have two children it is expected that it will mean 2 to 2.5 million more births per year.

With such a rise in fertility, the medium variant, China’s population would peak at 1.45 billion in 2030 and then decline to around 1 billion by the century’s close.

Fully lifting the child restriction policies now might get the additional 5 million births to reach replacement level.

After the full two child policy change (plus a complete lifting of any restriction children before 2018 and a shift to incentivizing babies before 2022), I estimate

2020: 1.43 billion
2030: 1.53 billion
2040: 1.6 billion
2050: 1.65 billion

Here is an analysis of China's population based on changes in total fertility combined with improved life expectancy.

China's child policies now will determine if China has 1.3 billion in 2050 or 1.65 billion

China is expecting at least one million more births in 2015 than last year, as a result of policy changes. A total of 16.9 million new citizens came into the world in 2014, 470,000 more than in 2013, said the China Population Association (CPA) two weeks ago.

As of the end of 2014, around one million couples had applied to have a second child.

Zhai Zhenwu, head of the CPA, said many families are at the preparing stage and the number of newborns is expected to increase noticeably in 2015.

As the birth policy may continue to be eased, the baby boom may last for five to eight years, said Zhai, adding that more efforts will be made in the public service sector to meet the challenge.

Here is an analysis of China's population based on changes in total fertility combined with improved life expectancy.

Working Age Population (15-64) in 2050

Stanford had a projection of working age population

If population policies in China boost child births from 15 million to 23 million for the next 20 years then the China would have 160 million more working age people in 2050. This would prevent a drop of 110 million and perhaps increase the working age population by 5%. Working age population now is about 970 million.

Other ways to deal with the shrinking working age populations would be to increase retirement ages from 64 to say 74. This would keep the working age population stable in the face of 15% drop in overall population in the 15-64 range.

China also has a lower number of people in the urban areas in more productive jobs today. China is also boosting its more productive college educated workforce.

The overall economic impact would be effected by
* how many working age population
* when do people retired
* how urbanized - China will go from 50% to 70-80% in 2050
* how educated and productive is the workforce
* how much automation and efficiency is there

October 28, 2015

Real technology to mimick the Star Wars Force or Fictional Telekenesis

Combining gesture interface, augmented reality and virtual reality interfaces, drones, power beaming, beam forming, robotics, magnetic levitation and sonic levitation would enable people to mimick the Star Wars Force or Fictional Telekenesis.

Drones with speakers would be able to get into position to provide sonic leviation.
Power beaming would enable higher power usage on the drones and their manipulation devices.

Drones could be controlled by gestures and direct sonic leviation.

Gesture recognition is common in XBox and Playstation video controllers

Gesture recognition leverages controllers that can track motion including the movement of fingers, arms and other movement.

Leap Motions ten micron precise motion detector was used to manipulate a virtual rocket engine.

Beam Forming to enhance sonic manipulation

Wireless power transmission will be the next wave of application for real time beamforming. Microwaves and cellular signals can be beamed into a small spot. Sound waves could be shaped and projected to different points.

Sonic Levitation

The world’s first sonic tractor beams that can lift and move objects using soundwaves have been built by a team that includes researchers at the University of Sussex.

Researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Bristol, in collaboration with Ultrahaptics, have now built a working tractor beam that uses high-amplitude soundwaves to generate an acoustic hologram that can pick up and move small objects.

The team is now designing different variations of this system. A bigger version with a different working principle that aims at levitating a soccer ball from 10 meters away; and a smaller version, targeted at manipulating particles inside the human body.

It could be developed for a wide range of applications. For example, a sonic production line could transport delicate objects and assemble them, all without physical contact. Or a miniature version could grip and transport drug capsules or microsurgical instruments through living tissue.

The researchers used an array of 64 miniature loudspeakers (driven at 40Khz with 15Vpp. The whole system consumes 9 Watts of power) to create high-pitched and high-intensity sound waves to levitate a spherical bead (of up to 4mm in diameter) made of expanded polystyrene.

The tractor beam works by surrounding the object with high-intensity sound to create a force field that keeps the objects in place. By carefully controlling the output of the loudspeakers, the object can be either held in place, moved or rotated.

Asier Marzo, PHD student and lead author, levitating a polystyrene ball with soundwaves.

Schematic rendering of the working volume of previously suggested manipulator

Pictures of one-sided levitation in mid-air

Sonic Tractor Beam can levitate and manipulate objects in midair and will scale up to levitate and move soccer ball sized objects

The world’s first sonic tractor beams that can lift and move objects using soundwaves have been built by a team that includes researchers at the University of Sussex.

Researchers at the Universities of Sussex and Bristol, in collaboration with Ultrahaptics, have now built a working tractor beam that uses high-amplitude soundwaves to generate an acoustic hologram that can pick up and move small objects.

The team is now designing different variations of this system. A bigger version with a different working principle that aims at levitating a soccer ball from 10 meters away; and a smaller version, targeted at manipulating particles inside the human body.

It could be developed for a wide range of applications. For example, a sonic production line could transport delicate objects and assemble them, all without physical contact. Or a miniature version could grip and transport drug capsules or microsurgical instruments through living tissue.

The researchers used an array of 64 miniature loudspeakers (driven at 40Khz with 15Vpp. The whole system consumes 9 Watts of power) to create high-pitched and high-intensity sound waves to levitate a spherical bead (of up to 4mm in diameter) made of expanded polystyrene.

The tractor beam works by surrounding the object with high-intensity sound to create a force field that keeps the objects in place. By carefully controlling the output of the loudspeakers, the object can be either held in place, moved or rotated.

Asier Marzo, PHD student and lead author, levitating a polystyrene ball with soundwaves.

Schematic rendering of the working volume of previously suggested manipulator

Pictures of one-sided levitation in mid-air

Nature Communications - Holographic acoustic elements for manipulation of levitated objects

Stratospheric Sulfate Geoengineering would be effective and affordable to mitigate climate change

Stratospheric sulfate aerosol geoengineering may mitigate effects of climate change. Sulfate could be mixed into jet fuel so that contrails would spread the sulfate into the stratosphere.

We would mimick a volcano. If we put 5 billion tons of sulfates a year into the atmosphere 20 kilometers high, and do that for 50 years. These sulfates don't stay suspended forever. Bit by bit they fall out of the air.

In the second model, the amount of sulfates gradually increases to around 10 billion tons per year after 50 years, to match the global economy's steadily-growing production of CO2. Both scenarios are based on a widely-used future projection of climate change in which only modest attempts at curtailing CO2 take place.

The scientists found (in their scenario where sulfate injection is doubled over time) that the incidence of Katrina-level hurricanes could be kept at roughly the rate we see today. And when these hurricanes do hit, their most devastating effect to coastal cities—storm surges—would be mitigated by 50 percent.

How much sulfate exactly is 10 billion tons per year? It is like a 1991 Pinatubo volcanic eruption every two years. It would cost about $10 billion per year.

It would somewhat ameliorate Atlantic hurricane intensity and frequency, but there will be more “Katrina”-level events than during the past 30 years. Geoengineering would likely be reasonably effective at controlling coastal flood risk relative to the coastal flood risk expected under the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 greenhouse gas warming, in part, due to its impact on global sea level rise, although flood risk would still be significantly larger than at present.

Devastating floods due to Atlantic hurricanes are relatively rare events. However, the frequency of the most intense storms is likely to increase with rises in sea surface temperatures. Geoengineering by stratospheric sulfate aerosol injection cools the tropics relative to the polar regions, including the hurricane Main Development Region in the Atlantic, suggesting that geoengineering may mitigate hurricanes. We examine this hypothesis using eight earth system model simulations of climate under the Geoengineering Model Intercomparison Project (GeoMIP) G3 and G4 schemes that use stratospheric aerosols to reduce the radiative forcing under the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 4.5 scenario. Global mean temperature increases are greatly ameliorated by geoengineering, and tropical temperature increases are at most half of those temperature increases in the RCP4.5. However, sulfate injection would have to double (to nearly 10 teragrams of SO2 per year) between 2020 and 2070 to balance the RCP4.5, approximately the equivalent of a 1991 Pinatubo eruption every 2 years, with consequent implications for stratospheric ozone. We project changes in storm frequencies using a temperature-dependent generalized extreme value statistical model calibrated by historical storm surges and observed temperatures since 1923. The number of storm surge events as big as the one caused by the 2005 Katrina hurricane are reduced by about 50% compared with no geoengineering, but this reduction is only marginally statistically significant. Nevertheless, when sea level rise differences in 2070 between the RCP4.5 and geoengineering are factored into coastal flood risk, we find that expected flood levels are reduced by about 40 cm for 5-year events and about halved for 50-years surges.

October 27, 2015

Northrop Grumman wins Long Range Strike Bomber deal which will start at $21 billion and go up to at least $80 billion

The Pentagon on Tuesday awarded the most fiercely-fought weapons contest in more than a decade to Northrop Grumman Corp., a $21.4 billion initial deal to build new long-range bombers for the U.S. Air Force.

Northrop Grumman was selected over a Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. team to build the first 21 jets to replace aging B-52 and B-1 war planes. The contract eventually could be worth $80 billion and provide 100 planes total. The first aircraft are due to enter service around 2025.

The new radar-evading bomber is designed to fly undetected over potential adversaries such as Russia or China that have upgraded their air defenses. The plane is capable of firing conventional and nuclear weapons, becoming the third leg of the nuclear triad alongside submarine and land-based ballistic missiles

Pentagon officials in recent weeks have provided a few details on what the Air Force has called one of its top three priorities, alongside the Lockheed-built F-35 fighter and Boeing-built KC-46A refueling tanker.

Flying Cars and Hoverboards exist with limitations and DARPA 2045 predictions

Back to the Future Part II.” The film got some things right about 2015, including in-home videoconferencing and devices that recognize people by their voices and fingerprints. But it also predicted trunk-sized fusion reactors, hoverboards and flying cars—game-changing technologies that are not.

NBF - There are prototype flying cars (roadable planes) which do exist but need to be legally authorized by regulators. There are magnetic hoverboards but they only work over metal surfaces like copper. There are hoverboards with fans which can travel over several football fields.

Crowdsourced Predictions

Here are some highlights of crowdsourced responses, in roughly descending order by number of mentions for each class of futuristic capability:

Space: Interplanetary and interstellar travel, including faster-than-light travel; missions and permanent settlements on the Moon, Mars and the asteroid belt; space elevators

Transportation and Energy: Self-driving and electric vehicles; improved mass transit systems and intercontinental travel; flying cars and hoverboards; high-efficiency solar and other sustainable energy sources

Medicine and Health: Neurological devices for memory augmentation, storage and transfer, and perhaps to read people’s thoughts; life extension, including virtual immortality via uploading brains into computers; artificial cells and organs; “Star Trek”-style tricorder for home diagnostics and treatment; wearable technology, such as exoskeletons and augmented-reality glasses and contact lenses

Materials and Robotics: Ubiquitous nanotechnology, 3-D printing and robotics; invisibility and cloaking devices; energy shields; anti-gravity devices

Cyber and Big Data: Improved artificial intelligence; optical and quantum computing; faster, more secure Internet; better use of data analytics to improve use of resources

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