Semantic Web + Access to Govt = Change

March 01 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government   Year: 2008   Rating: 11

It’s no secret that we have a problem. The American political system is a bit secretive, quite inefficient and wastes a good amount of our resources. Such is the nature of gigantic bureaucracies.

Like any problem, to solve it we must first quantify or count it. With large groups of people involved, any such quantification must be very accurate and very easy to understand at a glance.

This notion is nearly synonymous with a concept that David Stephenson refers to as transparent government, or “using Web 2.0 apps … to allow informed debate on policy alternatives, to find convergences (possible synergies—and wasteful overlaps), and to allow people with particular interests and/or expertise to contribute to issues.”

Thanks to the evolution of the web and internet applications, we’ll soon take a big leap in our ability to simulate super-complex political systems (especially if they are computer-dependent). Two fundamental, yet eminently do-able, steps remain to be taken:

1) make the majority of government information machine-readable

2) put emerging semantic web applications to work crunching this data

Change will swiftly follow if we can accurately and neatly organize political relationship trees, decision patterns and funding flows into a digestible “graph” that anyone can easily re-sort and view a million different ways from a billion different directions.

Continue Reading

Let's Debate the Future, Please!

April 28 2008 / by juldrich / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Culture   Year: General   Rating: 10 Hot

By Jack Uldrich

(An opinion piece)

Cross-posted from jumpthecurve

Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, recently had a thoughtful opinion piece bemoaning the media’s lack of meaningful coverage of today’s important issues. To emphasize her point, she noted that many American’s can now tell you Barack Obama’s bowling score but can’t recite one major plank in his health care plan.

It is a valid criticism and I wholeheartedly agree with her critique but Edwards, the candidates, and the media are missing another serious issue – the accelerating pace of science and technological change.

More specifically, no candidate is approaching today’s important issues of health care, education, the environment and war from the perspective that the near-term future of all of these issues will almost certainly will be different – and perhaps radically so – because of the accelerating pace of technological change.

Let me provide just a few recent examples. Late last year, the Pentagon reported that it had begun arming robots with guns for the first time ever. It then announced, to little fanfare, that it intended to triple the number of robots in battlefield situations by 2010. And by 2015 – a date that would place it near the end of the next president’s second term – the Defense Department has publicly stated that it expects one-third of the U.S. fight force to consist of robots. (cont.)

Continue Reading

U.S. Loses High-Tech Dominance

October 27 2008 / by DSMason / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 10 Hot

Cross-Posted from The End of the American Century

For most of the 20th Century, the U.S. was the world leader in science, technology, and innovation, with the best scientists, the best universities and the most advanced research and development programs. But all of that has begun to change as other countries and regions have become more advanced and more competitive and increasingly challenge U.S. dominance “

A recent article in the New York Times addressed the U.S. technological decline, and the ways Senators Obama and McCain have approached the issue. This story includes some eye-opening statistics about the loss of U.S. primacy in technology, innovation and R&D. At the top of the story, the Times points out the importance of this sector for America’s economy and role in the world:

For decades the United States dominated the technological revolution sweeping the globe. The nation’s science and engineering skills produced vast gains in productivity and wealth, powered its military and made it the de facto world leader. Today, the dominance is eroding.

One sees this in multiple indicators, but perhaps the most important is the country’s high-technology balance of trade. Until 2002, the U.S. always exported more high-tech products than it imported. In that year, the trend reversed, and the technology trade balance has steadily declined, with the annual gap exceeding $50 billion in 2007.

The U.S. has also fallen behind in spending on research and development, which drives high-tech innovation and development.

Continue Reading

[Video] Google Power Meter translates energy into information flows

February 18 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

One of the great efficiency opportunities for the next century is based on the convergence of information and energy flows. The notion of a 'smart grid' is a more reliable and efficient energy web based on the integration of software, sensors and energy storage. 

There are dozens of 'smart grid' infrastructure startups that service utility companies, as well as more commercial/industrial efforts being pushed by IBM, Johnson Controls, Honeywell, and Cisco.

And for those homes with 'Smart Meters' or Smart Devices, solutions are coming online quickly. Google has now thrown its hat into the ring around the basic idea: 'if you can measure it, you can improve it'.  The Google Power Meter is a software tool integrated into smart meters that helps consumers better understand how they use energy in order to reduce their costs and consumption.  Google is a big name, in an expanding space of 'smart energy' startups, like Sentilla and REGEN, who are trying to build demand in the residential market.

Related Smart Grid posts on The Energy Roadmap.com

Continue Reading

Rising Oil Prices Fueling Broad Economic Disruption

May 29 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Energy   Year: General   Rating: 8 Hot

With crude oil hovering at an all-time high of $130/gallon people all over the globe are feeling the pain and starting to react in different ways.

Some are finally choosing to drive less frequently. CNN reports that “compared with March a year earlier, Americans drove an estimated 4.3 percent less—that’s 11 billion fewer miles, the DOT’s Federal Highway Administration said Monday, calling it ‘the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history.’”

Others are increasingly making the switch to higher-mileage and hybrid vehicles.

In Europe, where environmental taxes roughly double the cost of gas, groups of French and British workers are demanding public assistance by staging protests .

A few particularly pinched and pro-active folks in rural regions are shifting around their work week and travel schedule. According to the Wall Street Journal “a handful of small towns and community colleges are switching to four-day workweeks in an effort to help employees cope with the rising gasoline prices, and could soon be joined by some larger local governments.”

And of course there are the enterprising individuals who’ve decided that enough is enough and that it’s time to take drilling for oil into their own hands.

This is just the beginning. (cont.)

Continue Reading

Norvig, Omohundro, Goertzel and Pell Say How They'd Advise Obama's if Appointed U.S. CTO

November 15 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 7 Hot

Live-blogging from Convergence 2008.

Moderator Jonas Lamis just asked the distinguished AI Panel what they would advise the new Obama administration to do if, by chance, each was appointed national CTO?

Google’s Peter Norvig: First advice, “Don’t choose me.” (Audience laughs.) Most important advice is to do what the President-Elect is already doing. #1: Believe in reality. The next thing is to invest in R&D. It’s important to re-establish the United States as a leader there. We’ve slipped over the last 8 years or so interms of funding research.

Steve Omohundro: Imprtant to use tech to make better decisions in our society. This is a huge opportunity for aggregating beliefs and desires of voters. Through semantic consensus we could better express nuances. The bailout is the perfect example – 99 to 1 against bailout, ended up passing it. Morphing as we speak… Potential pathways as we move to the future – now a smattering of diff orgs – better to have country-wide analysis of this future pathway.

Ben Goertzel of SIAI:

Continue Reading

Obama And Conversational Government

January 19 2009 / by Jeff Hilford / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government   Year: 2009   Rating: 7 Hot


One of the most exciting things about the promise of the Obama administration is their commitment to employing interactive communication technologies in an effort to better their stewardship of the country.

obama1.jpg


It was the utilization of these tools that spurred him to victory in a daunting primary process and pushed him to a convincing win in the general election.  At a simple level, what he really did was engage anyone he could in conversation.  That is the hallmark principle of web 2.0 and also of a good politician.  I think this concept is at the center of why people (a whopping 79% approve of his handling of the transition) are so optimistic about what type of leader he may be.  While it's true that we are in the midst of very difficult times and that will prod more folks into being open to and hopeful that Obama may lead us out of here,  I think it is his continued commitment to conversation and engagement that offers the most potential upside.

Continue Reading

Obama Fights Fire with Technology

October 03 2008 / by John Heylin / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government   Year: 2008   Rating: 6 Hot

If there’s one thing that separates the two presidential candidates distinctly, it’s their use of technology. We’ve all heard about how John McCain doesn’t know how to use a computer, and it’s no secret that Obama does. So it’s not surprising that the Obama camp has come out with a nifty new iPhone application to help their supporters help out even more.

The application, free from the iPhone App store, promises to change the face of activism through making difficult tasks easy.

The reason?

For starters, the application gives you stats on yours calls to friends in support of Obama (heck, it even tells you what friends are in battleground states). It tells you how many calls you’ve made and how you rank compared to other application users. You can get updates from the campaign, latest news on the candidates, and even local event information such as volunteer opportunities or visits from the Obama campaign.

The Obama campaign has raised the standard in political activism. You can bet that within the next few months (if they’re smart) you can expect to see applications from all types of organizations. The McCain Campaign, Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and the ACLU are probably not far behind. Heck, you may even see an app from the Sea Shepherd before next whaling season is on.

With online involvement increasingly becoming more mobile, the era of TV ads and the stereotypical inactive voter could be gone within the next decade or two. In 2020 you could run your entire campaign, everything from fundraising to polling constituents, from your home. Today you need the bankroll of a small country to run a campaign — in 2020 you may only need a programmer

Continue Reading

Smart Grid Infrastructure Startups to Watch in 2009

January 05 2009 / by Garry Golden
Category: Energy   Year: 2009   Rating: 6 Hot

dumb gridWhat might be at the top of the list as the 'Next Big Thing' for the energy sector?  

Creating a 'Smart Grid' (Guide) for Electricity that is more resilient, responsive and efficient.

2009 should be a significant year for investing in the three main ingredients of smart infrastructure: Software, Sensors & Storage.

In 2009 we will be watching for major investments made by utiltiies with the help of 'smart grid' startups and incumbents capable of transforming how we manage, distribute and store electrons:

1) Gridpoint
2) Comverge
3) BPL Global (Better Power Lines)
4) Enernoc
5) Enerwise
6) Trilliant Networks
7) Silver Spring NetworksKleiner Perkins investment
8) Tendril
9) SmartSynch
10) Itron
11) Sequentric 
12) Eka Systems

Other notable sensor and systems startups: 
Energy Hub
, GainSpan (Embedded Systems), GreenBox, eMeter (Enterprise)

Incumbents to Watch:
General Electric, IBM, Honeywell, and Johnson Controls

Related posts on The Energy Roadmap.com

Continue Reading

Accelerating Change Meme Hits the National Stage

August 27 2008 / by Alvis Brigis / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Government   Year: 2008   Rating: 5 Hot

If you think there’ve been dramatic changes in the world and in technology over the last ten years, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The race is on, and if you watched the Olympics, you know China’s going for the gold. – Mark Warner, last night at the DNC

The accelerating change meme finally hit the national stage last night at the Democratic National Convention when former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, who earned his fortune in the cell phone industry, framed the current Presidential contest as a “race for the future” that “won’t be won with yesterday’s ideas”.

This marks the first time in recent memory that any candidate for national office, barring of course Future Blogger favorite Jack Uldrich , who incidentally has been calling for high profile politicians to start debating the future , has directly appealed to voters on a national level by articulating the fundamental concept of accelerating change that most everyone on this site takes for granted.

I had been biting my nails during and after the primaries, hoping that the future, science and punctuated change would at last become election issues. And now I am relieved that this meme has finally infected enough minds to enter the popular debate. Whether you’re a transhumanist, singularitarian, trans-systemist, neo-luddite, or anything else inbetween, it’s essential that we as a society begin to tackle the reality of runaway techno-info-social change, first by acknowledging its existence, if we are to control our collective destiny in any meaningful way.

Now, I’m not sure that Warner or Obama will be able to deliver on promises to begin building “100 mile-per-gallon plug-in hybrid vehicles right here – with American technology and with American workers” in two years time, but it’s certainly not impossible. Such future-forward initiatives must be spearheaded by the likes of Presidential candidates like Obama and McCain lest another 4 years of opportunities pass us by as we journey deeper into the acceleration era.

Carpe Postremo.

Photo credit Mark Warner, CC 2.0 license.

Looking Back: How the Nanobama Administration Accelerated Technology

November 06 2008 / by Adam Cutsinger / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2014   Rating: 5 Hot

Ever since buckyballs were discovered in 1986, an event that liberated nanotechnology from being an on-paper-only concept and graduated it into a hands-on (or at least electron microscope-on) practice, nanotechnology has been gaining momentum exponentially, despite aggressive anti-tech litigation.

In 2009 the EPA was sued by a collection of tech corporations for failing to enforce federal restrictions on the import and development of carbon nanotubes imposed one year earlier, and for completely failing to make any laws whatsoever regarding other similar carbon-based materials or those of other metals like titanium-dioxide and silver. Although the EPA was cleared of any wrong-doing, the following year three more laws were initiated, and several companies and research facilities were fined.

But then, in 2010, President Obama reversed the ban on stem cell research enacted by former president George W. Bush, stating, “The potential benefits greatly outweigh the moral dilemma. It is not for me to say whether God would have us utilize a dead fetus. But I do believe God would ask us to help to save the sick and dying, if there was any way we could.”

In his famous 2012 re-election speech that earned him the nickname Nanobama, he said:

Continue Reading

Top Energy Stories of 2008: #3 The Obama Election

December 16 2008 / by joelg
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 5 Hot

By Joel Greenberg

Barack Obama's energy platform included goals for renewable energy, higher automoative gas mileage standards, support for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and targets for energy efficiency of homes...and that's just to start.  With the recent announcement of Nobel laureate and now former head of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Steven Chu as Energy Secretary, Obama's administration can be the catalyst that makes alternative energy markets viable.

Will the Obama administration be successful in making the energy changes he promised in the election?

Obama's Energy Plan

Continue Reading other Top Energy Stories of 2008

Continue Reading


   1   2   3