The Lorem Ipsum Conspiracy

 

As a linguistics geek, I have an unnatural love for the words ‘lorem ipsum’. So I was fascinated to read this account from security researchers who found that the phrase ‘translated’ through Google Translate to some key phrases that definitely didn’t exist in the original Latin:
A table showing the words 'lorem ipsum' and their 'translations' from different capitalisation. Translated words include 'China' 'Internet' and 'The company'.I’m not sure if I should read this as a clever modern-day spy story or a fascinating conspiracy theory, but it’s entertaining either way.

 

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Return of the Luddites?

I’m trying out a new way of posting. While I post on here most days, I’ll often give up meatier posts in favour of sleep and a quick interesting link. This is fine for a few days, but after a while it starts dragging down the quality of my blog.

Instead of posting this gorgeous video of a marmot disrupting research into glacier formation, I’m using this post to have a quick poke at a topic that’s caught my eye, with the intention of straightening out my thinking and getting comments to improve my research for a later post.

The inspiration behind all of this is a video Jack sent me – which I’ve not yet seen, but intend to watch before the follow-up post. I’ll trust you to kindly overlook any of these early thoughts if they’re also covered in the video.

The video promises a look at a topic that’s been lingering on the edge of my awareness recently: the impact of technology on our economic systems. Specifically, I’m interested in how it will affect the employment system, and how it will affect the political system. I’m thinking about it in an Australian context but expecting to extrapolate to and from other mostly rich, mostly western countries where it seems relevant.

It seems we’re heading for a future where work is more likely to be automated, both for physical jobs (e.g. with robots) and more information based jobs (e.g. with big data). People will still be needed in the system, but they will be a smaller part of it.* Taking that as a given – and yes, it’s a big one – there seem to be two extremes for the economic implications:

  1. High unemployment, a shift to a haves-and-have-nots economy.
  2. A new economic structure which redefines our understanding of what’s required for payment/basic living expenses.

Of course, the implications of either of these changes wouldn’t be limited to economics. My guess is that the first point above would lead to rebellion – a literal resurgence of the Luddites.

From Wikipedia:

 The Luddites were 19th-century English textile artisans who protested against newly developed labour-saving machinery from 1811 to 1817. The stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the artisans with less-skilled, low-wage labourers, leaving them without work.

I’m less sure of what to predict for the second point. One friend suggested cottage industries could be the future of labour. There would be an employer/employee divide, but it would be far more granular, and much less divided. The idea of a base state-paid wage that’s been lingering in certain circles could also make sense in this scenario.

For now, I’m planning to step away from this question to do more research and thinking. While I do, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts. Do you think your grandchildren’s children will have a job in the current sense of the word? How do you think work in the future will…work?

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**Yep, these are some sweeping generalisations. This is very much the testing-an-idea post, not the publishing-with-research-and-a-considered-theory post.

PSA: Location history on Google

I’ve been out enjoying the movies with my partner tonight, so this post is more informative than thoughtful.

If you use an Android phone or use Google services on your phone, take a look at https://maps.google.com/locationhistory/. If you’re not comfortable with location tracking, this is something you might want to turn off. Google’s never been secretive about it – and nor should they; there are some great services that come from location data – but it’s worth thinking about whether those services are something you’re happy to have in exchange for giving away data like this.

And no, turning it off won’t break Google Maps. 😉

Technology! It’s awesome!

In a shared geek-out moment earlier today, I told a colleague I’d link her to this awesome video of a self-folding robot that shifts from a flat piece of material to a robot which then walks off screen:

Then I realised my fiancee and some other friends had been sharing fabulous tech videos, and that anyone who cared about self-folding robots would probably be interested in the ‘walking’ gyroscope cube:

And the possibilities created by applying hyperlapse/self-steadying video tech to 3D and virtual reality tech (the video ‘only’ shows the hyperlapse tech – my partner and I were adding in the possibilities that could come from combining hyperlapse with 3D for some awesome augmented reality effects)

And finally, on a semi-related note, my partner pointed out that bionic technology’s also taking flying leaps forwards over the last few years.

So tonight’s a reminder that we’re living in the future, and that there’s a lot of exciting tech future still to come!

Coffee in all the places

My new coffee machine arrived earlier this week, and delighted me this morning as I unpacked it (before I’d had coffee! Quite the effort) and practiced making a tasty cup. I pledged for the Nomad on Kickstarter a couple of years ago so that I’d have a way to take my coffee making outside. My partner is allergic to coffee, so we did a mad little dance of door-shutting and window-opening every weekend when I wanted to make a cup. Since pledging for the Nomad we’ve moved into a different (and well decorated) house that makes it easier to keep the coffee smell contained. This had me a bit worried I’d wasted my money solving a problem we no longer have, but today’s test run convinced me that won’t be a problem. I really enjoyed using the Nomad and, while I like my stovetop coffee a bit better, its speed and portability make it a toy that I know I’ll value for a long time to come.

The Good News

The Good News newspaper, including headlines like '7 Billion People Continue to Live', '50,000 Flights Safely Take Off and Land' and 'Kittens'

(Direct link: http://www.lizzlizz.com/index/?comic=407)

LizzLizz makes a great point, and has perfectly introduced my favourite piece of good news for the day (HT to Jack for bringing it to my attention).

Tesla Motors are putting superchargers all over the place! Verge has a great article with the details, but the short version is that it’s going to be possible to cross America or Europe in one of their cars by the end of 2015, even if you can’t charge the car at private powerpoints (e.g staying in hotels that don’t allow car charging). Add this to their release of all their patents earlier this year and the electric car’s become a far more likely part of our future.

 

Bookmarking: the Internet of Things is becoming an industry

One of the least expected things I’ve learned since graduating and joining the full time workforce five years ago is the value of industry standards. They bring new industries together to agree on a compatible way of working, and make it possible for products to work smoothly together, allowing users to get on with innovating with products instead of around them.

A work mate tells an interesting story of incompatible screws* leading to the creation of the International Standards Organisation after World War Two. Tank mechanics were dismayed to find that their standard screws for fixing tanks couldn’t be used in tanks from both Britain and America. It caused enough of a ruckus that the standardisation of these tricky details was subject to a notable effort after the war.

Today I’m finding this interesting because Samsung, ARM, Nest and a few other companies have agreed on a standard for the Internet of Things (IoT), which they’re calling Thread. While Thread won’t be the first IoT standard – Bluetooth and the IoT specific ZigBee are both already in use – Thread is backed by major players from the start. Like with any debate over tech standards, this is going to be won by the group that gets the early share of the profitable mainstream market. With that in mind, Thread’s launch seems well timed – not early enough to be money-sucking, but not late enough to miss the game.

P.S. Thanks to Jack for the Wired article on Iotera that inspired me to write about IoT tonight.

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*or possibly bolts – it started quite the debate among our team.