The Truth According To Wikipedia

The Truth According To Wikipedia

Google or Wikipedia? Those of us who search online — and who doesn’t? — are getting referred more and more to Wikipedia. For the past two years, this free online “encyclopedia of the people” has been topping the lists of the world’s most popular websites. But do we really know what we’re using? Backlight plunges into the story behind Wikipedia and explores the wonderful world of Web 2.0. Is it a revolution, or pure hype?

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Director IJsbrand van Veelen goes looking for the truth behind Wikipedia. Only five people are employed by the company, and all its activities are financed by donations and subsidies. The online encyclopedia that everyone can contribute to and revise is now even bigger than the illustrious Encyclopedia Britannica. Does this spell the end for traditional institutions of knowledge such as Britannica? And should we applaud this development as progress or mourn it as a loss? How reliable is Wikipedia? Do “the people” really hold the lease on wisdom? And since when do we believe that information should be free for all? In this film, “Wikipedians,” the folks who spend their days writing and editing articles, explain how the online encyclopedia works. In addition, the parties involved discuss Wikipedia’s ethics and quality of content. It quickly becomes clear that there are camps of both believers and critics. Wiki’s Truth introduces us to the main players in the debate: Jimmy Wales (founder and head Wikipedian), Larry Sanger (co-founder of Wikipedia, now head of Wiki spin-off Citizendium), Andrew Keen (author of The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet Is Killing Our Culture and Assaulting Our Economy), Phoebe Ayers (a Wikipedian in California), Ndesanjo Macha (Swahili Wikipedia, digital activist), Tim O’Reilly (CEO of O’Reilly Media, the “inventor” of Web 2.0), Charles Leadbeater (philosopher and author of We Think, about crowdsourcing), and Robert McHenry (former editor-in-chief of Encyclopedia Britannica). Opening is a video by Chris Pirillo.

The questions surrounding Wikipedia lead to a bigger discussion of Web 2.0, a phenomenon in which the user determines the content. Examples include YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, and Wikipedia. These sites would appear to provide new freedom and opportunities for undiscovered talent and unheard voices, but just where does the boundary lie between expert and amateur? Who will survive according to the laws of this new “digital Darwinism”? Are equality and truth really reconcilable ideals? And most importantly, has the Internet brought us wisdom and truth, or is it high time for a cultural counterrevolution?

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‘Robohope’: First talking humanoid robot launched into space

‘Robohope’: First talking humanoid robot launched into space

A small Japanese robot, Kirobo, that boasts the abilities to talk, recognize voice and emotions, as well as to learn, has been sent to the International Space Station. Kirobo says his mission is a historic attempt to befriend robots and humans.

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World’s fastest comp: China unveils new top-ranking supercomputer

World’s fastest comp: China unveils new top-ranking supercomputer

World’s fastest comp: China unveils new top-ranking supercomputer

The Tianhe-2 supercomputer. (Image from netlib.org)

China has developed a new supercomputer, which is twice as fast as US and Japanese systems, early tests show. The new Tianhe-2 (Milkyway-2) is said to be even speedier in theory, and is likely to top the world ranks for years.

The worldwide supercomputer race may again be led by China, and this time for good – even before the official tests, the Tianhe-2 is showing a stunning performance of 30.7 Petaflops (quadrillions of calculations) per second, while its closest US rival, the Titan, can boast only 17.6 Petaflops.

The supercomputer’s capabilities have been confirmed in a detailed report by Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, who recently visited China’s National University of Defense Technology (NUDT), where the Tianhe-2 is currently being tested.

The powerful system was assembled by Chinese company Inspur using tens of thousands of the latest multicore chips produced by Intel, with an addition of some home-made technology. In total, the supercomputer is said to contain over 3 million processor cores.

The enormous computer will consume up to 24 Megawatts of energy while under load, and a special liquid coolant is being developed to prevent overheating. It will also have access to some 12 Petabytes of storage.

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inside

An artist’s rendering of the final look of the Tianhe-2 system. (Image from netlib.org)

Inspur claims the Tianhe-2 is capable of 54 Petaflops of peak theoretical compute performance. Earlier reports said China is aiming for no lesser than a 100 Petaflops machine by 2015.

Such impressive performance rates may be required for designing or modeling complex defense and civil technologies – for instance, testing aircrafts, as is expected in the case of the Tianhe-2.

Economic analysis is another feasible job for the supercomputer.

But the governments are also heavily using supercomputers for gathering intelligence. NUDT has listed aiding in government security as one of the possible uses for the Tianhe-2.

The Tianhe-2 will provide “an open platform for research and education and provide high performance computing service for southern China” after it moves to the Chinese National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou this year, according to the report.

The system will likely top the biannual Top 500 supercomputer list compiled by a joint US-German group of scientists, in which the report’s author Dongarra participates.

For the US, which has largely dominated the list so far, the new Chinese supercomputer should serve as a “wake-up call,” and an indication the country might fall behind in the high-tech race for years, Dongarra said in an interview on Wednesday.

via RT

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Open ROV Change Generation (Open Source Mini Submarine)

Open ROV Change Generation (Open Source Mini Submarine)

OpenROV: A Personal Submarine For Your Underwater Missions

This cheap, crowdsourced submersible has recently begun taking maiden voyages in the world’s oceans, opening up the world of marine exploration to anyone with curiosity about what’s happening underwater.

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Make It Yourself With a 3-D Printer and Save Big Time

Make It Yourself With a 3-D Printer and Save Big Time

Some of the 20 things Joshua Pearce's group made for pennies on the dollar using 3D printers.

Some of the 20 things Joshua Pearce’s group made for pennies on the dollar using 3D printers.

It may seem like a stretch to envision a 3D printer in every home. However, a Michigan Technological University researcher is predicting that personal manufacturing, like personal computing before it, is about to enter the mainstream in a big way.

“For the average American consumer, 3D printing is ready for showtime,” said Associate Professor Joshua Pearce.

3D printers deposit multiple layers of plastic or other materials to make almost anything, from toys to tools to kitchen gadgets. Free designs that direct the printers are available by the tens of thousands on websites like Thingiverse. Visitors can download designs to make their own products using open-source 3D printers, like the RepRap, which you build yourself from printed parts, or those that come in a box ready to print, from companies like Type-A Machines.

3D printers have been the purview of a relative few aficionados, but that is changing fast, Pearce said. The reason is financial: the typical family can already save a great deal of money by making things with a 3D printer instead of buying them off the shelf.

Pearce drew that conclusion after conducting a lifecycle economic analysis on 3D printing in an average American household.

In the study, Pearce and his team chose 20 common household items listed on Thingiverse. Then they used Google Shopping to determine the maximum and minimum cost of buying those 20 items online, shipping charges not included.

Next, they calculated the cost of making them with 3D printers. The conclusion: it would cost the typical consumer from $312 to $1,944 to buy those 20 things compared to $18 to make them in a weekend.

Open-source 3D printers for home use have price tags ranging from about $350 to $2,000. Making the very conservative assumption a family would only make 20 items a year, Pearce’s group calculated that the printers would pay for themselves quickly, in a few months to a few years.

The group chose relatively inexpensive items for their study: cellphone accessories, a garlic press, a showerhead, a spoon holder, and the like. 3D printers can save consumers even more money on high-end items like customized orthotics and photographic equipment.

3D printing isn’t quite as simple as 2D printing a document from your home computer—yet. “But you don’t need to be an engineer or a professional technician to set up a 3D printer,” Pearce said. “Some can be set up in under half an hour, and even the RepRap can be built in a weekend by a reasonably handy do-it-yourselfer.”

It’s not just about the money. 3D printing may herald a new world that offers consumers many more choices as everything can be customized. “With the exponential growth of free designs and expansion of 3D printing, we are creating enormous potential wealth for everyone.” explains Pearce.

Before 3D printers become as ubiquitous as cellphones, they could form the basis of small-scale manufacturing concerns and have huge potential both here and for developing countries, where access to many products is limited.

“Say you are in the camping supply business and you don’t want to keep glow-in-the-dark tent stakes in stock,” Pearce said. “Just keep glow-in-the-dark plastic on hand, and if somebody needs those tent stakes, you can print them.”

“It would be a different kind of capitalism, where you don’t need a lot of money to create wealth for yourself or even start a business,” Pearce said.

The study is described in the article “Life-Cycle Economic Analysis of Distributed Manufacturing with Open-Source 3D Printers,” to be published in the journal Mechatronics and coauthored by Pearce; students Ben Wittbrodt, Alexandra Glover and John Loreto and lab supervisor Gerald Anzalone of Michigan Tech’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering; Douglas Oppliger, Engineering Fundamentals lecturer; and John Irwin, an associate professor in the School of Technology and program chair of mechanical engineering technology.

Michigan Technological University (www.mtu.edu) is a leading public research university developing new technologies and preparing students to create the future for a prosperous and sustainable world. Michigan Tech offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in engineering; forest resources; computing; technology; business; economics; natural, physical and environmental sciences; arts; humanities; and social sciences.

Editors note: Full article can be found here.

Credit: http://www.mtu.edu

 

Jason Silva, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Melissa Sterry on Startalk Radio

Jason Silva, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Melissa Sterry on Startalk Radio

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, comic co-host Eugene Mirman and guest futurists Jason Silva and Melissa Sterry answer questions that lie at the intersection of technology, human biology and urban planning. Will bio-ware and nanotechnology allow humans to reprogram our biology? Can smart-materials, adaptive structures and sensor nets help city planners and policy makers create smart cities that adapt to environmental change the way forests do? Are we really approaching a “technological singularity” of emerging super-intelligence beyond which events cannot be predicted — and has humanity actually experienced one before?

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