Science & Society

The difficult thing about popularizing movements is that, in the beginning, you want recognition but as time goes on the interests of the movement may be divergent from the people involved in it.  

So it goes with the singularity.  In 1993, Vernor Vinge said "Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended."   But 17 years into that, only the most optimistic thinkers think substantial progress has been made.  Ray Kurzweil thinks so, but he said so in 2005 also, including a whole book called The Singularity is Near
Zombies - A Public Policy Study

Found last night during a Google search for latest news about something entirely unrelated to this search result:

Night of the Living Wonks

Toward an international relations theory of zombies.

There are many sources of fear in world politics -- terrorist attacks, natural disasters, climate change, financial panic, nuclear proliferation, ethnic conflict, and so forth. Surveying the cultural zeitgeist, however, it is striking how an unnatural problem has become one of the fastest-growing concerns in international relations. I speak, of course, of zombies.
This week a computer science researcher named Vinay Deolalikar claimed to have a proof that P is not equal to NP.

Let’s set aside what this means for another day, lest I get distracted.  The important thing now is that this is big. Huge, even!

If, that is, he’s correct.

But correct or not, that’s the kind of thing one expects to see in academia. Tenure gives professors job security and research freedom, exactly the conditions needed to enable them to make the non-incremental breakthroughs that fundamentally alter the intellectual landscape. (And in the case of P not equal to NP, to acquire fame and fortune.)


Aug 13 2010 | 9 comment(s)

Over at the archives, their cybrarian did a summary of science blog sites.  And in case "Science2.0" isn't hot enough, we find (yes, that's their moniker):

Another social networking site with appended blogs is Science 3.0, which "combines the hypothesis based inquiry of laboratory science with the methods of social science research to understand and improve the use of new human networks made possible by today's digital connectivity."
J.L. Vernon echoes many of the points I made in Are Science Blogging Networks Dead? but also focuses on a distinct aspect, writing Just like the NBA, “Science” is a brand.  It's a message that may be lost on some, or they would self-police a little better and certainly ask their commenters for a little more maturity - but it may be that while science is a brand (Science 2.0, Discover, Nature, etc. certainly always want to make sure writers get benefit beyond traffic from being in respective publications) at Scienceblogs, bloggers are themselves the brand.
Colin Schultz, a video journalist in Ontario, has some tips for aspiring science journalists.   Science readership is going up each year but science journalism jobs are decreasing.  How so?   Some of it is that science literacy is increasing(1) so more and more people can read science directly from the sources, like here, but without editors or journalists pitching stories the breadth of coverage is not complete so independent writing did not harm journalism - the market is up regardless of reasons.  
Webcam view of London HackerspaceA typical dream of an active citizen scientist might be to have one's own fully-equipment research laboratory and tinkering space conveniently established in one's own garage or basement.
Attractive women face discrimination when it comes to landing certain kinds of jobs, especially those with job titles like manager of research and development, director of finance, mechanical engineer and construction supervisor where appearance is considered unimportant, says a new study.   The discrimination was done by both men and women.

But attractive men were not discriminated against, even by women.  It is called the "beauty is beastly" effect, where attractiveness is a hindrance.   
“John is a man. All men are mortal. Therefore, John is mortal.” This argument from two premises to the conclusion is a deductive argument. The conclusion logically follows from the premises; equivalently, it is logically impossible for the conclusion not to be true if the premises are true. Mathematics is the primary domain of deductive argument, but our everyday lives and scientific lives are filled mostly with another kind of argument.

Not all arguments are deductive, and ‘inductive’ is the adjective labeling any non-deductive argument. Induction is the kind of argument in which we typically engage.
Back in the day, families in general seemed to do most of the work needed for themselves by themselves; since this was really required if a family was to simply survive the day. Over the past 100 years, the reliance on professionalism across the globe has steadily increased. The advantages to this “outsourcing of life’s primary needs” approach are endless… we have professional farmers that allow our refrigerators to be full with only a trip to the grocery store; we have professional protectors who work efficiently at keeping dangers as far away from our doorstep as possible without us even being aware of those dangers