The SMART Economy...TSE

Friday, September 16, 2005

Impacts of post 9/11 smart surveillance

Immediately after the 9/11 Al-Qeada terrorist attacks, government officials in both the U.S. and Canada were quick to pass legislation to increase surveillance of their citizens. But now, four years later, as fear of further terrorist attacks has become less acute and suspicion of government leaders' motives has heightened, more and more people are starting question the increased invasion of their privacy, says Dr. Kevin Haggerty, University of Alberta, Department of Sociology.

"Right after 9/11 it was impossible for anyone to say no to anything that would purportedly increase security," said Haggerty, (see paper on the use of surveillance as response to terrorist threats, which was published in the Canadian Journal of Sociology.)

Increasing the ability of lawmakers to monitor our Internet use, financial transactions, personal movements and cell phone use were just a few of the measures in the U.S. Patriot Act and the Canadian Public Safety Act that became law shortly after 9/11. But many of these measures had been proposed and rejected as unwarranted privacy invasions in previous years, Haggerty said.

The steep increase in surveillance infrastructure after 9/11 has been "intensive" and has "proceeded with little public debate or protest," he added.

"But polling and censor numbers are showing us that people have lost some of their trust in authorities, and we are now looking more critically at the restrictions being placed on our civil liberties."

Impacts: There are many reasons to question increased surveillance, Haggerty believes. For one, it is difficult to reverse the expansion of surveillance infrastructure once is has begun. Moreover, even if you trust the people doing the monitoring, we have repeatedly seen how information gathered for one purpose can be used for other more questionable purposes by other groups.

Increased surveillance can also reduce our sense of privacy, which is "the cornerstone of a liberal democracy," he added. "Without a sense of privacy, we tend to self-censor and don't say what we really think--it's hard to quantify, but it's a huge loss."

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"The more we know about surveillance and its uses, the more we can be aware of how and why it can be used to manipulate us, and the more in control we can be of our lives and the choices we make."

Recently a US politician was quoted on CNN, urging government to bug Mosques.

How are you being affected by post 9/11 surveillance? Do you argree or disagree with these measures? Pros ? Cons? Other impacts?

Walter Derzko

Expert and Guest Speaker on the Smart Economy and author of an upcoming book on the Smart Economy

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Search Engines becoming a wee bit smarter..long way to go

Writing in the Washington Post, Yuki Noguchi a Washington Post Staffer implies that search engines are getting smarter by getting more focused.

In her story:

Google Lets Surfers Sift Through Blogs Search
Giant Enters Competition for Commercial Harnessing of Web Journals
Thursday, September 15, 2005; Page D05

Noguchi cites:

  • "Apple recently introduced a podcast search feature in iTunes that allows users to find, subscribe to and listen to the homemade recordings."

  • "Yesterday, Google joined a handful of sites that search and sort through blogs so users can quickly find their topics of interest."

  • "In many forms, the Internet has already democratized other forms of publishing by eliminating the middle man. Music hobbyists, for example, can release their songs on the Web without the backing of a record label, and programmers develop and distribute their own software."

We are still some years away from the truely intelligent semantic web that will go beyond "dumb" keyword searching to meaningful searches that knows or can anicipate what I'm looking for, based on my previous search patterns.

British Telecom predicts that between 2006 and 2010 we should see "remind me devices"and "deep indexing" which creates greater bonds between people ( iPod play lists etc create insight into another's personality)

Walter Derzko
Expert and Guest Speaker on the Smart Economy and author of an upcoming book on the Smart Economy

also see

E-mail & Multi-tasking Makes You Dumber

E-mail & Multi-tasking Makes You Dumber

...As reported in Discover Magazine this month
Does E-mail Make You Dumber? By Anne Casselman DISCOVER Vol. 26 No. 08 August 2005 Mind & Brain

[ ]

"A recent study for the company found that British workers’ IQ test scores drop temporarily by an average of 10 points when juggling phones, e-mails, and other electronic messages—more of an IQ drop than occurs after smoking marijuana or losing a night’s sleep. “This is a very real and widespread phenomenon,” said Glenn Wilson of the Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London, who conducted the tests on some 1,100 volunteers. Just how long it takes to recover is unclear."

[ ]

"The study found that modern-day communications have become addictive: Sixty-two percent of adults check work messages after office hours and on vacation. Half of those surveyed reply to an e-mail immediately or within 60 minutes. About 20 percent were “happy” to interrupt a business or social meeting to respond to a telephone or e-mail message. Yet 89 percent of those surveyed found it rude for colleagues to do so."

Social Impacts: Classic McLuhan Tetrad effect
email enhances: By itself, email enhances and promotes communications
email obsolesces: Face-to-face
email flips or reverses -at the extreme, multitasking leads to a paradox ( increased addiction and reduced communications,) email gridlock, overflowing and unread inboxes, , IQ drop after "switch signal"
email retreives: threat response

"The human brain has evolved different modes for concentrating on a single thing versus jumping from one thing to another. “The reason we have these systems that quickly shift between each other is because what’s right for you now might not be right later,” Stickgold says. “There are basic brain-stem mechanisms that will cause you to shift and focus your attention on a change in stimulus.” Whether that change is a saber-toothed tiger popping out of the woods or a phone ringing suddenly, the consequences are the same.
“The switch signal comes fast and powerfully. This system knows at a moment like this that what’s important is to shift your state quickly, and damn the cost. And the cost is that it takes several minutes to shift back,” says Stickgold. “That’s the way we’re wired.”
Status: Email is a Mature technology, but not smart .....yet. But it will become more intelligent in the near future, following in the path of more intelligent search engines

Comments: What do you think of this research on email? Pros or Cons? Impacts?
Walter Derzko
Expert and Guest Speaker on the Smart Economy and author of an upcoming book on the Smart Economy

Spray-on Instant Homes

Spray-on Instant Homes

Problem: Our traditional housing stock rarely survives in the aftermath of severe hurricanes, storm surges, earthquakes and floods

Smart Solution: Arin Waugh at Argonne National Laboratory, Ill., and Jim Paul at Casar Grandee Intel., Mechanics ville, Pa., have developed an unique alternative to traditional housing construction methods- They call it Concrete Spray-On Structural Cement and Rapid Construction Process for Low-Cost Housing

The ANL press release states: "The Pre-mixed, environmentally friendly Concrete magnesium-phosphate cement powder is mixed on site with water and sand (or any other locally available aggregate) into a slurry. Using a modified mixing and pumping system, it is then sprayed to a thickness of about 15 mm on both the exterior and interior sides of foam frames assembled from 1.2 x 2.4-m expanded polystyrene foam sheets, held in place by aluminum channels attached to a foundation."


  • The material itself is fire-resistant and water-proof, with a fracture toughness of 0.6-0.7 Map m1/2 , making it extremely resilient against cracking. While the raw material cost is above that of conventional concrete, the reduction in labor and construction costs more than compensate for the disparity.

  • In a matter of two days, a 74-m2 house can be erected, creating real options for impoverished nations or for emergency situations that require rapid temporary shelter.

Adding intelligence: The buildings can be made more intelligent and hurricane proof by strategically placing smart bricks throughout the structure, that measure stresses on the house and by incorporating smart flexible cement (see future posts on hurricane proof rooms, smart bricks and flexible smart cement and smart roofs that absorb hurricane force winds)

Impacts: Apart from deduced storm damage, widespread use of this type of upgraded housing technology could make make some types of disaster insurance obsolete or less urgent


ETA : 2005;

Level: Intelligence Level (1) Adapting: Modifying Behavior to React to/Fit the Environment

Status: working lab prototype and commercial version pending

What do you think of this smart technology ? Pros or Cons? Impacts?

Walter Derzko

Expert and Guest Speaker on the Smart Economy and author of an upcoming book on the Smart Economy

Smart Flexible Cement

....from an abridged Press Release

"....A new type of cement could make buildings that can better withstand earthquakes and highways with fewer potholes.

It Bends, But It Doesn't Break

Problem: Each year, something in the range of 500,000 detectable earthquakes shake the four corners of the earth. About 100,000 of those can be felt, and around 100 of them, with about as much energy as an atomic bomb, cause real damage. Often, the real danger from earthquakes is from things that break apart and fall down when the earth starts to tremble.
Without warning a rumble builds and the room begins to shake. Buildings sway in unnatural ways, waves rock and warp groaning bridges, and the ground shifts beneath you.

Smart Solution: EEC
But, engineers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor have developed a bendable, or ductile, concrete-like material that can withstand the severe stress, or "loading," that happens when an earthquake hits.

"It can carry the load without creating the typical type of failure that we observe now-a-days in buildings under severe loading,"

This high-tech smart concrete slurry, called Engineered Cement Composite (ECC), can be mixed and applied using traditional methods for concrete, but it is stronger, longer lasting, lighter, more flexible and less likely to crack than the concrete generally used to build roads, bridges and building.

Traditionally, the usual mix of cement, water and sand or gravel is reinforced with metal rods or bars to provide the strength needed for bridges and buildings. This new smart concrete-like composite looks like regular concrete, but incorporates super fine (100 microns in diameter) silica sand, and tiny plastic — polyvinyl alcohol or PVA — fibers covered with a very thin, nanometer-thick, slick coating.


"This surface coating allows the fiber to begin slipping when they are over loaded so they are not fracturing. It prevents the fiber from rupturing which would lead to large cracking,"
"[ECC] can deform much more than normal piece of concrete without fracturing into pieces."

[ ]

Under intense strain, the fibers slide within the concrete, giving under the pressure rather than breaking apart. The fibers behave somewhat like your body's ligaments, holding things together in a flexible manner. More than that, the different components work together to share the load.
"They essentially collaborate, if you will, so that when the material is overloaded they provide a give in transferring the load elsewhere to its neighbor, so its neighbor also helps in supporting the load,"

In lab tests the ECC proved to be 500 times more flexible than traditional concrete, and 40 times lighter.

Cost: The new cement costs three times the price of regular concrete, but because it's so forgiving builders can use much less of it, and since it's so durable, maintenance will cost less.

ETA : 2005 The material is already being used in earthquake-prone areas of Japan and Korea, and is set to make it's American debut in fall, 2005 on a section of the Grove Street Bridge in Ypsilanti, in Michigan.

Funding: This research was funded by Michigan Department Of Transportation and the National Science Foundation.

Level: Intelligence Level (1) Adapting: Modifying Behavior to React to/Fit the Environment

Status: working lab prototype and commercial version

What do you think of this smart technology ? Pros or Cons? Impacts?

Walter Derzko

Expert and Guest Speaker on the Smart Economy and author of an upcoming book on the Smart Economy

Smart Levees

Smart Levees

With Hurricane Katrina foremost on our minds and on TV, it's worth exploring to see what smart preventive technology could be 1) used to rebuild New Orleans or 2) installed around the country in areas that lie in flood plains or at risk of rising ocean levels.

California is experimenting with "smart" levees> These intelligent barriers are wired with nervous systems of electronic failure sensors that sound alarms if a weakening levee threatens to open a breach, giving crews time to make emergency repairs.

Couple this new capability to surveillance cameras and motion sensors and authorities can monitor the conditions around the potential breach. ..It would warn authorities if terrorists try to send an explosive-packed rowboat up to a levee.

ETA : Now 2005;
Level: Intelligence Level (1) Adapting: Modifying Behaviour to React to/Fit the Environment
Status: working commercial version

What do you think of this smart technology ? Pros or Cons? Impacts?

Walter Derzko

Expert and Guest Speaker on the Smart Economy and author of an upcoming book on the Smart Economy
....Next we will look at smart flexible concrete that bends under stress

Not all smart technologies are created equal

Not all smart technologies are created equal
You can't paint all intelligent products with the same "smart" brush. Recognizing that some products or technologies are smarter then others, I use the following intelligence scale to distinguish between levels of " smartness" or intelligence.

  • Intelligence Level (1) Adapting: Modifying Behaviour to Fit the Environment
  • Intelligence Level (2) Sensing: Bringing Awareness to Everyday Things
  • Intelligence Level (3) Inferring: Drawing Conclusions from Rules and Observations
  • Intelligence Level (4) Learning: Using Experience to Improve Performance
  • Intelligence Level (5) Anticipating: Thinking and Reasoning about What to Do Next
  • Intelligence Level (6) Self-Organizing: Self-generating or Designed by a human hand at the nano-technology or atomic level

Welcome to the Smart Economy Blog

Welcome to the Smart Economy Blog

Welcome to this discussion Forum on the Smart Economy-where you can discuss the impacts of new emerging smart technologies-technologies that have built-in intelligence or smarts. I'll be posting examples of new and emerging smart technologies at least once a day.

The Smart Economy is quietly booming !

People have tried to label the post-industrial economy in many ways: the Knowledge economy, the information economy, the internet economy, the bio economy, etc. One denominator that they all have in common is that smart objects play an increasingly influential role- hence what I call the “Smart Economy”
So far, I have identified over 500 smart technologies from around the world. I ‘m creating in-depth profiles for about 100 significant ones for my book –which I hope will become the Bible for the Smart Economy or S-Economy (SE)
Chapters for the book include:

  • smart appliances
  • smart buildings and structures
  • smart cities
  • smart clothes/fabrics
  • smart energy technologies
  • smart environmental technologies
  • smart everyday objects ( for the lack of a better category)
  • smart health care products
  • smart homes
  • smart industrial technologies
  • smart materials
  • smart manufacturing
  • smart nanotech (one of the core, fundimental enabling technologies)
  • smart offices
  • smart personal aids
  • smart pervasive ubiquitous computing
  • smart robots
  • smart security technology
  • smart shopping
  • smart software
  • smart sports technology
  • smart toys
  • smart transportation
  • smart warfare

I'll be posting examples from the above categories, as well as from new categories for your review and comments.

Please visit our Blog daily, have fun and let's explore the social impacts together.

The Smart Future is already here, just the last page hasn't been written yet! Have your say !!

Oh... if you've run across interesting examples of novel smart technologies, please let us know and share with our readers, by posting your suggestion in the comments section.
NO SPAMING will be banned and your posts deleted

Walter Derzko

Expert and Guest Speaker on the Smart Economy and author of an upcoming book on the Smart Economy

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Welcome- share your smart technology examples

Have you run across examples of smart or intelligent technologies. Please share your findings with our readers and post it to the coments section

Welcome to the SMART economy

Infrmation will be posted in the near future